Day 18: Coffeemaker Rhymes

There is no greater love than to
rise early and begin to brew
a cup of coffee for the one
who sleeps in hours after you.

Though I would rather, much, have tea
the joy is greater still to see
you, dearest, lifting up your mug
to drink the day’s first toast to me.


Day 18: Write a ruba’i–a Persian form consisting of a quatrain rhymed AABA.

Nagpapacute lang powhz because while I’m not a coffee drinker, I’m almost always in the company of people who are, and they love me more for being able to educate me about it.

Day 17: Pink Salt

my mother brings it
home in jars

medium grain
fine grain, pure
infused with garlic
and herbs

all carrying
the promise of eighty
different essential
minerals, all claiming
there are things
white table salt
forgets in the process
of refinement

I unscrew the lid
the salt rolls and bumps
into my palm
like gravel in surprising
colors: blush and sand
and dusky rose

sweet colors
I think perhaps
they belong on a cake
or in the morning
and evening clouds
you can’t possibly
dig them out
of the ground

what a surprise
it is, then, to place
a granule on my tongue
anticipating sugar

and taste the sea intact
in its sharpness—see
where it has married
itself to the earth
in a mine under
a mountain range


Day 17: Write a poem in which you describe something in terms of at least three of the five senses.

This is such a horrible poem, but it’s just that my mom is really into pink Himalayan salt right now and I’ve developed a childlike and slightly absurd fascination with it–the grains are huge, and it’s PINK. And I’m like, WHY.

Also, I was going to write a poem about an entire meal instead of a condiment, because what else do you write about for a full sensory experience (???), but this juice-diet I’m on makes it too much of an ordeal to try and think about food and all its wonders without bursting into floods of (largely figurative, but still somewhat literal) tears. Huhuhuhu. Uhuhu. Huhu. Hu.

Day 16: Origin Stories

  1. In the beginning, people shed their skins and uncovered new lives every day.
  2. Death came airborne into the world when lightning first cracked open the sky.
  3. The moon was once a dragon that gorged herself on the sun’s fire.
  4. Some airplanes fly off the edge of the world into space and become stars.
  5. Trees, too, are people. Their language is silent. Through this they will inherit the earth.
  6. A bird building a nest in your air-conditioner is a sign that you will never learn to sing.
  7. Tidal waves signal the onset of reaping and harvesting season under the sea.
  8. The spirits sometimes take a person’s eyes and leave flowers blooming out of the empty sockets. In common parlance this is known as falling in love.
  9. Because the heart resides on the left side of the body, left-handed people are less able liars.
  10. The smallest people in the world spend most of their lives completely in darkness and have no eyes. When you boot up your computer, they light their lamps.


Day 16: Write a ten-line poem in which each line is a lie.

Day 15: Origami

Lotus Blossom

Stars on the surface
of the green lake, roots twisted
down into the mud.


They lean together
in the glass jar like women
with their hands folded.


Fold the paper birds
into life, and imagine
you are sprouting wings.


I want aloneness
wide as water, the moment
the shore drops away.


Day 15: Write a poem in terza rima.

I actually wrote a poem in terza rima once back in high school when I was still handy with stuff like rhyme and meter. But I would rather fold origami than write any kind of poetry, so here, have some haiku instead. Will doubtless add to this as I learn how to fold more things.

Day 14: In the Event of a Catastrophe


Day 14: Write a poem where every sentence except the last takes the form of a question.

Jumped the prompt again and wrote a procedural instead, but the questions that medicine tries to answer are some of the biggest and most important questions there are. I was once a trained first-aider.

Also, the surest way to write a poem lately: mishmash your research, add feelings, mishmash more research, add more feelings, cover them up with numbers and imperatives and words like “determine” and “regardless” and “triage”, add line cuts.

Day 13: For My Sister, Future Marine Biologist

You say you love them for their bigness—
blue whales, for instance, have hearts
the size of cars. You could crawl through
all the major arteries to get to it, sit inside it
and listen to the ocean swell and roll
outside. Or perhaps that would be the thrum
of the whale’s bloodstream, probably
an ocean in its own right? Each whale
is its own independent country, populated
by barnacle-villages. A pod of whales
is a veritable continent. You say the world
has the seas mapped out as a whale’s road.
All that water practically begs to be
flown through, and the seas do not
flow into one another. Whales can tell
all the tides apart. What appears to the human
eye as a relatively featureless landscape is
to them an entirely different song.


Day 13: Write a poem that features at least one kenning (metaphorical phrases developed in Nordic sagas), either drawn from this list, or invented.

This one’s for my sister, who’s a tiny person but adores whales.

Happy to have officially birthed more ugly babies this year than last year. <3 I will spend the rest of the year grooming them into little golden boys and girls.

Day 12: Memory and Its Shells

Chelonia is based on the Greek word kelone, for armour.

Barbara Brennessel


The meaning of the word memory differs from region to region.
The exact ancestry of memories has been disputed.

Memories are characterized by a special bony or cartilaginous shell
that acts as a shield. The memory cannot crawl out of its shell.

The shape of the shell gives helpful clues about how a memory lives.
Land memories are famous for moving slowly, in part
because of their heavy, cumbersome shells.
Amphibious memories often have webbed feet and long claws.
Sea memories fly through the water.

Memories lay eggs which are slightly soft and leathery.
Large numbers of eggs are deposited in holes dug into mud or sand.
They are then covered and left to incubate by themselves.
When the memories hatch, they squirm their way to the surface
and head toward water. Immature memories are not cared for by adults.

Although many memories spend much of their lives underwater,
all memories breathe air, and must surface at regular intervals.
Memories breathe in two ways.

Memories are considered to be social creatures and sometimes switch
between monogamy and promiscuity in their sexual behavior.
Case studies also exist of memories that have enjoyed playing.

The flesh of memories was, and still is, considered a delicacy in a number of cultures.
Wild memories continue to be caught and sent to market in large number.


Day 12: Write a replacement poem: Pick a common noun for a physical thing, for example, “desk” or “hat” or “bear,” and then pick one for something intangible, like “love” or “memories” or “aspiration.” Then Google your tangible noun, and find some sentences using it. Now, replace that tangible noun in those sentences with your intangible noun, and use those sentences to create (or inspire) a poem. 

My tangible word was of course turtle. The turtle is memory. Memory is the turtle.

I actually like where this is going, so I’ll get back to it, and probably develop it into a monstrous long poem.

Day 11: Having a Beer with You

after Frank O’Hara

is more fun than counting Spanish castles and Italian churches and Greek tavernas
and French museums where paintings of naked women outnumber those of water lilies
partly because in t-shirts and flip-flops we are lovelier to one another than water lilies
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for bread
partly because you never drink lights as a show of fidelity to bread
partly because when I am slightly inebriated I tell you all my secrets that are not secrets
like how you are an invisible footnote to every poem I’ve ever written, especially
the bad ones that are bad because they tell too much truth, especially the ones
whose only strains of imagery are light and some hands and how those hands
make shadows and are never still, like how you are my place to be still
because every word is a synonym for what we are, like how I treasure it
that you choose to sit beside me instead of across from me because dating books
know people better than people do, because that is one of the most salient visual cues
that will inform even the most cursory of observers: what looks like a conversation
is actually two people losing their way wandering in and out of each other’s words

and I never get any poems written, I’m just sick to my stomach all over a piece
of paper for you—you hold in your hands the most triumphant of failures


Day 11: Write an anacreontic–a kind of highfalutin drinking song, but in general any poem about love, wine, love and wine, the love of wine, etc.

Not exactly a wine person–my drink of choice is beer for the nice warm fuzzies it makes in the tummy, but if I agree to have a beer with you, you’re probably pretty damn special.

I’m sorry, Frank O’Hara. I’ll turn this into a real poem one day.

Day 10: Everyone Is Dehydrated

Imagine a world without water.
The thirsty open their mouths
to the air–it is all
a matter of what you choose
to stay alive for.
Fish grow themselves wings
and the sky swarms
with too many new birds. Chasms
throw themselves open in
the sea’s place. No rain
but the rare meteor shower.


Day 10: Write a poem advertising something.

Prompt-divergence again, because I can’t rhyme, and also because I don’t think I’d be very good at advertising. I can barely convince myself that I should be drinking more water.

Also this is totally a thinly veiled tenginuh-ang-init-sa-Pilipinas poem.

Day 9: Did You Get My Message?

We’re having this conversation in two
different languages and I am tired of watching you

open your mouth and articulate only images.
You say there is no other way to speak but

in image. You say you need me to witness
you in the dark here. Easily I can repeat you.

I know you’re a princess in an ice castle
and the glass has two sides—you can look out

through crystal, but not in through bedrock.
This is why no one realizes you. I know you

dream a softer world. I know you carry
a wall of stones on your back, but I’m not

sure I believe in the black dog you insist
walks your footsteps until you lose them.

I know that you dream the earth pulls
you toward itself, but when you command

Catch me, all I can say is I don’t know
what I can save you from. If you’re in danger

of shattering against the ground, how can you
continue to command? Today I want to focus

on telling you a difficult truth: You want to get
lost in the thorn-forest of metaphor.

There is no other explanation for why
you cannot speak straight. You say the things

you tie into knots, but I intend to speak you
plainly—the truth is that you dress up in fragility

to dream a world alone. You
are only, ever, whatever you want.

There is nothing else worth realizing.


Day 9: Put your music player on Shuffle. Take down the titles of the first five songs that play. Build a poem.

For judging, my phone gave me:

  1. Did You Get My Message? – Jason Mraz
  2. Catch Me – TVXQ
  3. Witness – Tori Amos
  4. Whatever You Want – Vienna Teng
  5. I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From – Kings of Convenience

I guess I cheated on the title. Also, it looks like I’m doomed to write at least one couplets-poem every few months.


Memorandum to the origin of this poem: I’m sorry I couldn’t be what you needed, I guess–but I didn’t need that, either.