Day three of this year’s poem-a-day for April using prompts given by Rachel McKibbens over the past few weeks. I will be writing the poems and putting them into a book which I will divide the profits between Rachel’s campaign The Outlast Project and the local women’s shelter. If you would like to pre-order this book, you can do so for $15 via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org and please be sure to include your shipping address. THANK YOU! And now for the prompt:
PROMPT THREE: Write your childhood in 12 apologies. (the apologies do not have to be from you)
If you are participating in the 30/30 this month I would love to know about it! Let me know in the comments. If you are sharing your poems, please put a link to your site or blog! ^_^
And… for the process notes if your interested…
First thought: Writing a poem is WORK… this is NOT an easy thing no matter what other people may say! On to it…
12 apologies… what are 12 things I either want to get or give an “I’m sorry” for??? I was a child so I don’t hold myself responsible for much of my “wrongdoing”… trying to think though… who did I wrong when I was a kid? And also, for me “childhood” is elementary school. Some of the time before. Ages 4-12… what are the apologies?? I’m really trying to think of times that I ever did something in elementary school to make another kid cry or anything and nothing is coming to me. I was one of the outcast kids who got made fun of. I don’t remember ever lashing out or doing anything above and beyond… So…
Who needs to apologize to ME? How have *I* been wronged? I’m pretty much over everything from back then and even if I wasn’t my mother, father, and stepfather are all dead so they can’t give me any apologies. I suppose that makes this poem very important to write since they are the only ones who I would want or need apologies from. So here I go…
I want an “I’m sorry”…
from my father for leaving
from my mother for not keeping in touch with my father
from my mother for moving around so much that even when my father TRIED to keep in touch, he couldn’t
from my mother and stepfather for being left alone as a child (latch-key kid)
from my kindergarten friend Laurie for dumping me as a friend the next year because the new girl Teresa’s parents taught her not to like Black people
from my mother and stepfather for having to witness arguments
from my stepfather for calling my mother a nigger-lover in front of me when they were arguing
from my mother and stepfather for having to witness the damage from arguments (mom’s black eye, etc)
from my mother and stepfather for having to witness illicit drug use
from the system for my mother being able to put on make up and her work clothes and get me from foster care even though the home situation didn’t change
from my mother for not leaving my stepfather because she could only take me with her and not my brother
from my stepfather for basically being a non-entity in my upbringing and then expecting me to respect him
Making a list of complaints is the easy part though… I want to write a POEM. For me that means I need a room or a house to hold these ghosts that I have to call to conscious. I need a PLACE for me to feel that I have written something worth reading. Going in…
Trying to find the place where the ghosts live. Seems like this series keeps taking me to dimly lit spaces. I was in a shadowy church on day one. Then a forest with only a touch of sun barely sifting through the canopy for the second prompt. Now I am looking for what amounts to a haunted house. That nearly requires the sky to be gray or black. Where do they live? I only know that it’s cold, nearly bitterly so, unseasonably so. I know that everything is gray and dark. That is where the ghosts come to see this side of the void, to the dark shadowy places at the edges of woods and small towns and near tall corn fields filled with dead stalks with the dilapidated farmhouse hidden in the middle. But where are MY ghosts… I feel like my mother is still back in that dark forest… but I need a place where they can gather together. Where can these other two disparate souls come to meet me?
So I am having a seance… calling to me the hearts of those who were charged with my care… calling out to my trio of parents… the only ones I knew… I call to the forest and the desert and the seaside to retrieve the soul of my mother… I call to the Midwest farmland towns and the shared desert to invite the soul of my stepfather… I reach past golden gates and bays and around the blood stained southern soil of north american relocation for the soul of my father… but…
I still don’t have a place for them to gather… where will I call them to? What does this seance hall look like? There are candles of course… lots of dark colored silk somehow… a table for all this… a large chair where I pull the eastern European gypsy from my genetics and feel my great-grandmother’s dark hair and eyes taking over my own… I think I have found the place… now… for the poem…
In the writing of this I have to say that it was very hard to get it to come together the way I wanted. I am happy with the opening but the actual apologies are not so cohesive. I am not a huge fan of list poems so it seems super long to me. It probably is. I will have to see where else I can take it later after the series is complete.
Another personal note, this is one of those things where I thought I was over all of the things I listed, but when I called to the spirits of the people who had wronged me and then wrote each one out… it was VERY intense… somewhat painful, but overall not a bad experience.
What is your process when you write? Is there anything that is your standard “go-to” method? Do you use prompts or just write from your own thoughts? I would love to hear your take on this in the comments!
Thanks for reading! ^_^