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Poem a Day Day 17 Hello. Or Not.

Almost caught up

Early on in the month, I asked you to write a valediction — a poem of farewell. Today, let’s try the opposite, and write poems of greeting. There’s lots of things you could greet. The spring? Your new stapler? A favorite classmate? An addition to the menu at your local cafe? The subject’s up to you — now get out there and say “hello!”



Hello, I’m supposed to say

To something new that came my way

To greet a person, place or thing

With a welcome sunny ring

New any time or just today?


If it’s recent, I can’t greet

Anything with Hey! That’s neat

Latest new in this old life

ankle that hurts like a knife

Limping now for weeks.


Then there is this blasted cold

Sneezing, coughing do take hold

Laryngitis cuts off voice

Temperature is not a choice

Happy hellos? I’m not sold.

Poem a Day Day 16 Weird stuff.


Well this was weird.  First I tried a Celtic poem, but I found I had no idea how to pronounce the words. Or maybe that was the point.  This one is Latvian.  Remember it’s just the sounds, not an actual translation.  Although I did get drink involved.  Like I said. Weird.

1. original poem, 2 my transliteration “take” on it., 3. actual translation


NaPoWriMo – Day 16 to write a “translation” of a poem in a language you don’t actually know. Go to the Poetry International Language List, pick a language, and then follow it to a poet and a poem. Generally the Poetry International website will present a poem in its original language on the left, and any translation on the right. Cut and paste the original into the text-editing program of your choice (and try not to peek too much at the translation). Now, use the sound and shape of the words and lines to guide you, without worrying too much about whether your translation makes sense.

Latvian poem







© 1996, Janis Elsbergs
From: Rita kafija
Publisher: Apgads Daugava


Is your island and the briny

Coming not to rendezvous more

Is talk of gazing sight vacant

Is it missing gaia’s vision

Near to Skyros

Bailing never outs the boat enough


Why you are so divided

Man pecks at prizes caught

Yes, yes it’s stygian saki

Yes, yes it’s the lotus





Actual translation

I’m walking and wondering
why I leave no footprints.
I went this way yesterday.
I’ve gone this way all my life.

I won’t look back.
I’m afraid I won’t find my shadow.

‘Are you alive?’
a drunken gentleman suddenly asks me.

‘Yes, yes,’ I answer quickly.
‘Yes, yes,’ I answer
as fast as I can.



Poem a Day Day 15

They did say to write anything. And that some would be better than others. So that’s my apology for day 15.


Ravens soaring over the wasteland

Screaming cacophonous woeful calls

I swore to never move again

but find now never ending falls


NaPoWriMo’s prompt was to write a Pantun

And now our (again — totally optional) prompt! Today, I challenge you to write a pantun. Not a pantoum — though they are related. The pantun is a traditional Malay form, a style of which was later adapted into French and then English as the pantoum. A pantun consists of rhymed quatrains (abab), with 8-12 syllables per line. The first two lines of each quatrain aren’t meant to have a formal, logical link to the second two lines, although the two halves of each quatrain are supposed to have an imaginative or imagistic connection. Here’s an example:

I planted sweet-basil in mid-field.
Grown, it swarmed with ants,
I loved but am not loved,
I am all confused and helpless.

The associative leap from the first couplet to the second allows for a great deal of surprise and also helps give the poems are very mysterious and lyrical quality. Try your hand at just one quatrain, or a bunch of them, and see how you do!

* It’s been pointed out that the example doesn’t rhyme, and its syllable count is suspect. All I can say is that it is a translation from a poem in Malay. A transliteration of the original is below–

Tanam selasih di tengah padang,
Sudah bertangkai diurung semut,
Kita kasih orang tak sayang,
Halai-balai tempurung hanyut.