Denise R. Weuve

Ink Damage and Other Permanent Stains

Archive for the tag “National Poetry Month”

Day ??? ~ Ocean Vuong

First this is Saeed Jones fault because he keeps posting pieces of Ocean’s poems, reminding me why I like his work so much.

First I suck at Poet a Day

First I rock for even trying to do this

First Ocean Vuong is a heart wrecking, earth moving, pen master that makes me want to move to New York so I can know I am breathing the same air, and perhaps somehow his talent will drift through taxi exhaust, pipe fumes, and Tuesday refuge pick up right into my lungs.  A girl has got to dream, doesn’t she?

If you have never read Ocean Vuong (who in 2016 when his book Night Sky With Exit Wounds from Copper Canyon Press no one will ever admit to having not read him) and not fallen in love with poetry, the line, the word, then your heart stopped beating long before this blog was ever written.  He has won took many accolades to list, and I am not as thorough as likes of Poetry Foundation where you can learn about those all, but I can tell you he is the reason poetry is as vital as breath, and has value.  So much value that if you are wanting Vuong’s chapbook Burnings (SiblingRivalryPress, 2010) look to pay anywhere between $200.00-$850.00.

This is the opening “On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous”:

Tell me it was for the hunger
& nothing less. For hunger is to give
the body what it knows
it cannot keep. That this amber light
whittled down by another war
is all that pins my hand
to your chest.

See what I mean?  You now want to read anything Vuong writes.  No need to wait. Here are a couple of my favorites:


He came into my room like a god
stepping out of a painting.

Back from the wind, he called to me
with a mouthful of crickets–

scent of ash and lilac rising
from his hair. I waited

for the night to wane
into years before reaching

for his hands, my finger tracing
the broken lines in his palm.

My shadow beneath his shadow
across the hardwood. And we danced

like that: father and son–
our bodies like a pair of legs

over a broken chair.

from The Paris American 2014


From Youtube, a reading by Ocean Vuong
The most recent I can find of him, but you need to turn up the sound up full blast



Day 22 ~ Jericho Brown

Have you read New Testament?  No?!?  Well today’s Poet Spotlight was going to feature Jericho Brown, I was going to explain how he was a student of Claudia Rankine, and she recommended I read him.  How I am grateful she did, and I was going to praise him.  Then this morning after I wrote the praise and  lead you to the poems “Elegy”  and “Heart Condition” this was in my newsfeed from poetry foundation.  Read this instead, The Contract so much better than anything I could have said and you will fall in love with Jericho because of his love for poetry that will make you jealous that you have never said any of this to poetry, when it has done so much for you.  You can also read the aforementioned poems, because you will need more.

Or watch him here.

Day 18 & 19 ~ Jeff & Tobi Alfier

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I have a bias to adorable people that make me wish I was in love; Jeff and Tobi Alfier over pour right into that bias cup. Individually they are remarkable poets, not simply because of their great writing, but because of their support they offer to other writers regardless of where they are on their personal journey.

These two poetic souls have been together since 2009 and have lit up the poetry scene ever since. I met them about three years ago at the now defunct Tuesday Poetry Readings, hosted by Murray Thomas, when I brought my high school creative writing students to their first poetry reading and to be honest, I wasn’t exactly a pro at these readings, I had very few under my belt, and simply figured I learn this with my students. One of my students was in love with a poem Tobi read, and Tobi just handed over her printed copy to the student. The student did not stop talking about it, and I thanked Tobi. Next thing I know Tobi was sending three of her chapbooks and three of Jeff’s chapbooks to my students. I was very new to the scene but that night taught me to hand over poems if someone likes it, you can print another. Far more importantly it taught me that poetry needs a community that looks out for each other, and wants to see each other do well. It’s not a competition people; we can all be happy (well is, we are writers) and successful together. There is room. Jeff and Tobi are pillars of the community.

Together they founded and edit San Pedro River Review. A lovely print journal that has seen the likes of Naomi Shihab Nye, Alex Lemon, Marge Piercy, and Frank X. Gaspar. They spend their time and their money, which is limited in the poetry world, doing this. Poetry is a shared love by these two beautiful people, both have multiple Pushcart nominations, and books a plenty. With each book they write they get better and better. And I bet each year they spend together will be better than the last.

In case you were wondering, they have a book of poetry together, courtesy Mojave River Press called The Color of Forgiveness that I highly suggest you purchase right now!

Jeffrey C Alfier has had an amazing past 6 years, not only has he married the pretties woman in poetry, Tobi Alfier (formerly Cogswell) but he has seen the publication of quite a few books,  Idyll for a Vanishing River (Glass Lyre Press, 2013), The Wolf Yearling (Silver Birch Press, 2013), Bluesman’s Daughter (Kindred Spirit Press, 2011), The Torch Singer (Kindred Spirit Press, 2011), Before the Troubadour Exits (Kindred Spirit Press, 2010).  If you have not read Jeff’s work may I suggest beginning with The Wolf Yearling.  There is a solid reason for his multiple Pushcart nominations.


The Drawbridge
~Jeff Alfier

The frozen face of sleet searches morning,
wakens into hoarfrost. Six a.m. and the world
beyond my parent’s street fails visibility.
I start coffee—the machine’s gabbling growl,
click on dad’s warmed-over radio, behold
winter-spurned limbs of backyard trees
that sluice the early fog. I hear the Navy ammo
train trundling the near distance, a bodiless
voice echoing its way to port.

Early evening now. Night sky breathes clear
of cloud and ice. I walk Shrewsbury River Bridge
to Sea Bright, scan the current passing under
the bascule’s frangible grate. Some constellation
I can’t name hangs in the deepening hour.
At the bridge’s coastal end I sip
false fire from a flask, watch two Iberian
tankers limn the end of the evident world.

I thought I came here for the good rinse of night’s
ocean air. But it was only to walk this bridge,
pass a young woman in smart work clothes
and dressy heels, the drawbridge operator’s blue
silhouette inscribed against river blackness.
Whatever message beyond nods that passed between
us three in that failing light, we were children
whispering on Christmas Eve: any kind word to shine
across open water, bordering us against the sea.



Tobi Alfier (formerly Tobi Cogswell) has been published in 100s of journals, and has several Pushcart prize nominations to both her names.  Her poetry seems to have found a place in nearly every continent this world offers.  She runs a group that have 25,000+ members focussing on Poetry Editors & Poets via linked in. She has a few books you can read including The Coincidence of Castles (Glass Lyre Press, 2014),  and Lapses & Absences (Blue Horse Press, 2013).

Evening in Oban
~Tobi Alfier

A table for sitting,
the profile of your strong jaw
as you scan the horizon
for boats and wayfarers.
A rooftop chapel of silence
but for the outside flutes
of wind brushing leaves,
birds heading home,
and the crinkle of water
along the shoreline
as ferries slowly cruise to sleep
until beginning again with the sun.
Forested ruins spotlit by stars,
and us, holding hands,
a bottle of red and one of water
between us, our blended
observations deliberately low,
as an audience will whisper
while leaning toward the orchestra,
waiting for those first real notes
of night.



Day 5-Pantouming through the rooming

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 9.31.35 PMIt is the weekend, and hopefully that means you have a little extra time, because today we are going serious forming.  This will take some quiet, concentration and your poetic muscles.

Before we start my thanks go to the lovely LeAnne Hunt for sharing a prompt she received from Rachel McKibbens, last year.  And you indeed should check out  McKibbens site as well.

Saturday April 5th
Writing Exercise #89

1. At your worst, you are what?

2. One of the most memorable punishments you received when you were young.

3. Something you got away with.

4. A punishing last line you have hurled at someone else.

– – – – –
This is going to be a poem in three stanzas. I’ll help you out with your first stanza, but you’ll have to fill in a few blanks for the rest.

Stanza 1:

Line 1: Your worst self.
Line 2: The punishment and what you learned.
Line 3: What you got away with and what you learned.
Line 4: The punishing last line.

Stanza 2:

Line 5 (repeat of line 2 in stanza 1)
Line 6 (new line)
Line 7 (repeat of line 4 in stanza 1)
Line 8 (new line)

Stanza 3/Last Stanza

Line 9 (line 2 of the previous stanza)
Line 10 (line 3 of the first stanza)
Line 11 (line 4 of the previous stanza)
Line 12 (line 1 of the first stanza)

By the end of it, you will have a pantoum. Exciting!


And here is LeAnne’s offering

Letting Go of Stones

I am an empty bag, full of wind and crinkle.
I rattled at each pull until you broke through thin skin.
I learned to twist in your words.
I flung myself off a cliff to float. I held blue.
I gave you two children as promised.

I rattled at each pull until you broke through thin skin.
I learned to twist in your words.
You could not catch my inhaled breath.
I gave you two children as promised.
Wind carries ash the same as it does hope.

You could not catch inhaled my breath.
I flung myself off a cliff to float. I held blue.
Wind carries ash the same as it does hope.
I am an empty bag, full of wind and crinkle.

Day 4-Stop Texting Start Writing

Picture 1This is by far one of my favorite poems from a prompt I found on 30 dpc 2 years ago.  The prompt is simple.  Pick up your cell and see who the last person who texted you.  They had to text you.   (If you don’t text go with called you, if you are old school).  Write a 5 line poem about that person.

here is my attempt at this prompt, which recently appeared in Cindy Hochman’s First Literary Review-East.


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Day 3~He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Poem

By Cari Cunningham (photographer)

“What We Carry” By Cari Cunningham (photographer)

It seems we are either being carried or carrying something.  A wallet, yesterday, purse, groceries, grudge, love, resentment, a baby, cross.

We carry so much with ever asking why?  Or what am I really carrying here?

So today let’s make this simple.  Write about what you carry.  Metaphorical or Literal.  Have fun with it, write about where you are taking this (these) thing(s).  Why are you carrying it?  As you get ready to carry that laptop somewhere nice and comfortable to sit and pound a key or two, i’ll give you my offering on this one, and a few lines from students.


Sara Lopez-I carry the shattered pieces of my heart in a snack bag.  Every time there is a hunger in your angel eyes, I hand it over willingly, only for you to crush it between your teeth and spit it out just like before.

Brian King-I carry a God like presence that radiates through all time.

Sabrina Guttierrez- I carry boulders in my shoes.


Holy Mother


Once I crowned Mother Mary,

with baby’s breath, and mini peace roses

the color of blushing cheeks

woven with satin ribbons

of dove white and olive-green.


That Friday, as school

was winding down

my saddle shoed feet,

rolled socks,

plaid Catholic School skirt


through the church garden

past blooming bell flowers

waiting to bust open

for a bee’s pleasure,

in a rhythmic strut

to “Hail, Holy Queen”


My palms up

nothing to hide

nothing to gain

nothing to lose

just a silk pillow

and it’s royal content.

I glowed—halo strong.


Then Gracie Galindo “whispered”

Her mother paid for this.

No one would have picked her.

My mother said so,

and she counts the collection baskets.


I smiled, pretending my heart was deaf

lifting the crown above the veiled Mary

praying she was deaf.

resting the crown’s ribbons over her ears.


School day done,

I waited for two hours by the bell flowers,

placing their magenta bodies

between my thumb and forefinger

and squeezed,

forcing each to cry out with a pop,

while I wondered

if anyone would care

if Gracie tumble-down

the school back stairs


My mother picked me up,

2 hours late,

grumbling nothing in this life comes free,

not even a mother’s love

Day 2~Purple Regret, if only I chose Vermillion. . .


Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 9.57.15 PMQuick, before you do anything, write down the last emotion you had before you fell asleep last night.

Got it?  Great now let’s move on.

I love unexpected pairings.  The tension they add to writing, the amazing sound you can get when combining them.  Right now you have the first part of the pairing, time to give you the second part of the pairing.  Write down your favorite color.

And now you have your pair. Emotion color.  these two words can not be separated, for the next hour, or until you finish a poem using that new phrase.  Hating your choice right now?  I don’t care, don’t change it.  Trust your instincts to lead you to an unexpected poem, that not only uses that phrase but somehow relates to this phrase.  Do NOT split the words up.  These two words must appear next to each other in one line of a poem.  And let’s try to make it 16 lines.


Here is your sample, by Chris Koo

Purple Regret

It all started with a single bet
In a shady backroom game of roulette,
That landed me thousands of dollars in debt,
And left me with nothing but purple regret.

At a casino, while watching a quartet,
I was approached by a beautiful brunette.
Or perhaps she was a blonde, I forget.
Anyways, she offered to me a lit cigarette.

Next thing I know, I was sitting with a set
Of men who looked more than a little upset.
As I began to break out in a cold sweat,
Whispered from behind a dim silhouette.

It assured to me that I’ve no reason to fret,
“There is nothing to worry about as of yet.”
Little did I know that the game was preset,
And all the money I owned was under threat.

Now I owe a sum I can’t possibly offset,
Only wishing for a button labeled “reset,”
With heavy feet, I trod into my kitchenette,
And pour myself a glass of purple regret.

–First Appeared on Eskimoe Pie.


Did you notice how this cat did a single rhyme for the whole thing. . .knock me out with his crazy over achieving self.

NaPoWriMo~Let the Challenge Begin

The Challenge Begins

 30 Poems in 30 Days

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 8.46.46 PMIn case you are new to this fabulous month a brief explanation.  As a celebration of National Poetry Month many of us take up our pens in the ultimate challenge–30 poems in 30 days.  So why others dread the pranks that April 1st brings, Poets can be caught running in the streets with Pens, point up, injuries be damned.  Call them fools, they do not care about your unsettling name calling, because they are jotting down names for you, and turning them into a terse exercise in alliteration, anaphora, and apostrophe.

Writers remember in the end it is not about whether you make all 30 poems or not, it is about the effort, the community, and pushing yourself.  Last year I only wrote 10 poems, and would call 4 of them good.  So this year I’m just hoping to write a bit more and call 5 good. Anything over is miraculous.

Set your goals now!

You will need help.  I will need help.  Your non-writing friends will want an intervention for you, but you can do this.  To help us all get through this I’m going to start by giving you several places that will have daily prompts (or are promising to try to have daily prompts) to get your poem on.


NaPoWriMo – If you are going to start, might as well be here.

Writer’s Digest –  These prompts handed out by Robert Lee Brewer and are usually very helpful.  They start with guidelines and you can go back daily for prompts.

Poetry Super Highway – May I suggest signing up at his facebook page as well.  He does a lot of great things for the community of Poets in Los Angeles and beyond. You will find your prompts for 2014 under the special projects

30 Day Poery Challenge – 30dpc – Facebook Page.  For the past two years, when the challenge is complete, these folks put together a compilations.

Poetry Idiots are planning on putting up prompts daily for the month of April.  Well at least one of them is.  Go to the Home section and you will find prompts under 2014.  By the way you should be following this page anyhow. Great readings, ran by Ben Trigg and Steven Ramirez, every Wednesday night!

By the way if you haven’t gotten your free National Poetry Month poster, get it here.  While supplies last!

There will be days when I will throw up some of my favorite prompts from friends, books, found, and maybe even my own. Won’t promise every day, but will promise to try.

Happy Writing My Poet Pretties!



Running Up That Hill~half way

Who knew I would have to make a deal with God, to complete the 30 day poetry challenge.  Awww Kate Bush, you aging prophet you, apparently your 80s epic was all   about me and this month.  Yes, I’m being presumptuous but as I struggle half way into this month I keep superimposing myself into the video where in tombstone-gray-ankle-length dress she contemporary dances herself fighting forward, fetal position rolling, jumping violently into the air, and proclaiming to attempt to make a deal with God.  And so I battle.  writhing angry, come on God, one more poem. . .just one more.  Then the next day it occurs again.

To make this more a struggle, several of the sites (I was using for prompts) have trailed off. I had 5 or so to go to and sift through until something sparked me.  And just incase the whole idea of writing a poem day was not enough of a challenge, I ended up in Vegas with no computer access, and became ill for over a week.  Real ill the kind that vomits, and ends up in Urgent Care.  So there we go.

And now I bid this blog goodbye, after all there is thunder in our hearts, a poem to write a hill to Run Up –Placebo Style-eerie and haunting as it all is.

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