This island is strange and full of noises,
like the toddler who won’t let go,
even though your skin itches and crawls
from too much touch, and you’ve
had none but gauze and gauntlets
for days. And you breathe in
as best you can, shuddering
with the humidity – or the parch –
of a long quarantine. Baffled breath,
tight, throw me a filter, I can’t
hear you between Spotify
and kitchen timers, all ringing
sound and sympathy with the church bells
calling dawn like hotcakes
and I don’t like what you’re asking.

I can’t, I can’t, my rotary of jealousy
swings to the right, heavy with scorn
and guilt. You secret scholarship
and community klatch, I’ll bet
your treasury sings blue like gold,
and silver under wrappings. Succor me
like you mean it, your gleaming tests
of companionship and silence.

Never could I keep the streams
apart, reason this with me, hear
only the harmony, and not the drums
of peaceful sleep. And now, with
silence climbing over me, I’m broken
in a record’s groove, and I can’t
hear you speak from drowning.

Hush, now, don’t you cry, you’re
no Caliban, and I’m no vengeful sprite,
but scratch you in the night – I
want this, I want this salty frigate
out of here. Sew it slowly
from the shore. Needles, you
dry desolate town, I’ll make you a
watery grave, full fathoms five,
stitch you in the hot wind
and tear you apart again
to bury you in desert rock
and sand me down to shivers,
blow me down, blow me down,
brutem fulmen, throw me in the nightwater
like a drunken sailor crying for his mama

and I’ll love you forever, I swear it

like the god I am.

Napowrimo.net gave us a doozy of a prompt for Day Five:

The challenge is to use/do all of the following in the same poem. Of course,  if you can’t fit all twenty projects into your poem, or a few of them get your poem going, that is just fine too!

  1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
  2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
  3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
  4. Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).
  5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
  6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
  7. Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
  8. Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
  9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
  10. Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
  11. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”
  12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
  13. Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in “real life.”
  14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
  15. Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
  16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
  17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.
  18. Use a phrase from a language other than English.
  19. Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).
  20. Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.

I may or may not have achieved all that – I’m still a little dizzy from the storm.

5 thoughts on “Tempest

  1. Well done, Nora! I especially liked the reference to the play itself, almost forgot about Caliban in all this talk these days of Taliban and virus. I saw The Tempest in Stratford, Ontario, a school trip when I was 15, so many years ago. Bruno Gerussi played the part of Caliban, but he was a sturdy, stocky man, and quite unlike one’s imagined wood sprite. My favourite line from that play contains a rude phrase, so I will not repeat it here, but as a teenager back in the dark ages, it did produce a few giggles. But it’s not about that, it’s about your poem, and I pick up phrasing so reminiscent of the play itself. Thanks for this! You’ve brightened my day, for what that’s worth! – Carol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Carol – what a lovely comment. I costumed a production of The Tempest right after college, and it is one of my favorites of Shakespeare. The themes of autonomy, justice, and perception are strong ones in my life, and I often circle back to how they twine together in the play.


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