Thursday, April 30, 2020

NANOWRIMO April 30, 2020 Finis

As we end National Poetry Month, and NAPOWRIMO for 2020 I turn to Dylan Thomas, and the two poems of his that subconsciously, and not so subconsciously, color my work. "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" is almost a mantra with me, so much so, that I borrowed the phraseology to tell people at my Humor and Well-Being presentations "Don't go gently! Go Laughing!" And the second meaningful poem "and death will have no dominion" casts a long shadow over yesterday's poem. As I once spend a summer reading all the works of Shirley Jackson, to discover the broader scope of her work, with one foot in humor and one foot in horror, it may be time to rediscover Thomas, and add another literary root to my creative tree. 

This year, as every year, I title my April poems "The Cruellest Month," and for the most part, it has been a metaphor. However, this year, April was indeed cruel, bringing death under her wings like rain, raising up the flowers of mourning. Her sister May could end up being just as merciless at worst, and a valley of tears at best.

So, tonight I bid April 2020 farewell, she the bringer of a personally significant birthday, amid anxiety, fear and anger, and the balancing power of love. The stuff of my poetry for sure.

“I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.”
Frodo Baggins to Sam Gamgee― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

"The just a little harder, when brought about by friends..."
 Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice, Jesus Christ Superstar

"Oh what a world.."
Margaret Hamilton, as the melting Wicked Witch of the West, The Wizard of Oz 

The Sacred Heart

iconography of childhood
the heart of Jesus encircled by thorns
representing the pain we cause
felt for all eternity
even while living in Paradise
an image to shame our sins
inspire us to holy lives
the Immaculate Heart of Mary
encircled with flowers
is pierced with seven swords
because the heart of a mother bears
the blossoms she tendered in her garden
alongside the wounds of maternity
sorrows too painful to bear
hanging side by side in the church
like grandparents in old fashioned clothes
not smiling just staring
their hands levitating their hearts
outside of their bodies
flaming like the candles
we light for special intentions
all I can think of is
falling on the thorns of life
ten swords impaling me from behind
my mother heart stitched many times over
my feet stomping on serpents and legos
refusing to say good-bye
when they leave, one by one
icons are only as valuable
as the jewels with which they are encrusted
eyes expressionless and dead
peering out from bodies
from which the heart has been removed
unlike my heart, which bleeds every day
pain born of love, not sin.
©2020 Noreen Braman

Wednesday, April 29, 2020


Image by Alex Demoura from Pixabay

Human Sacrifice

Useless blood spilled
appeasing non-existent gods
the life taken to ensure 

the livesof others will go on
never stopped earthquake
tsunami or pyroclastic flow
made it rain

blessed the crops
or protected hordes of warriors
in uncountable battles of pointless wars

Death was the only winner. 

And now you tell me
sacrifice myself
on the altar of an ancient god
made of stolen gold
my blood in exchange for
monetary stability
status quo
the kingdom over the
surplus population
dangling generations of descendants
in front of my eyes
while the barons of finance
hide out in their counting houses
and those who once we thought of as leaders
sputter and threaten and withhold favor
choosing instead to watch from afar
as the rabble fight each other
over food and medicine and haircuts
pointing fingers at each other
assuming no blame for their actions
listening to new world Svengalis
spinning tales of intrigue
proposing heretical solutions
hiding behind philosophies and beliefs
they push on others
but ignore themselves

While death is the only winner.

And now you tell me I owe my life
to the future in which
you have already dirtied your hands
where you have pushed your piles
of filth and betrayal
as gifts for those same 
generations of descendants

Do they not dangle before your eyes?
Do they not know your dread complicity?
And your schemes and plans and usury
for only your own benefit in this world of today?

I would step in front of a bullet
throw myself in the path of a train
sell all my possessions
and mortgage my soul
to spare my progeny suffering
but I will not die on your altar of gold
to support your narcissistic survival scheme 

and with my last breath I will call you out
for the harm you have done to humanity

And not let death be the winner. 

©2020 Noreen Braman

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

NAPOWRIMO April 28, 2020 Shelter


not what was wanted
barely what was needed
in another world
from what was before
riddled with decay
the hidden rot of dampness
painted with desperation
time eating away the structure
a silent voracious malignancy

©2020 Noreen Braman

Sunday, April 26, 2020

NAPOWRIMO April 25, 2020 Now

Image by Felicia Ruiz from Pixabay

Is this the time, the day, the year,

the point in my life to know that

after all this time, those days, those years,

the point of my life may be that

spending all that time, past days, past years

pointed my life to somedays that

present more endings than beginnings

more even breaks than winnings

still, knowing what the time is today

doesn’t lessen the pain of what is drifting away

or make any easier the “good-byes” to say,

to this time, this day, this year.

©2020 Noreen Braman

Thursday, April 23, 2020

NAPOWRIMO April 23, 2020 Isolation Octopus

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Isolation Octopus

digital tentacles extend out
reaching into the universe
from an electronic cephalopod
with information coursing through
its system of digital circuitry
lighting up a bulbous brain 
with changing colors
processing bits and bytes of life
redesigned in isolation
bleeding out over the wifi
feeding the living light fields
swelling in the server farm
capturing contact without interaction
transactions without movement
work without workplaces
below the vast ocean of data.

©2020 Noreen Braman

Monday, April 20, 2020

NAPOWRIMO April 19, 2020 6 word poem challenge

Image by 2427999 from Pixabay
6 Word Poem Challenge

Pandemic Poem

Pestilence proves tenacity
stronger than humanity.

©2020 Noreen Braman
with a shout out to Albert Camus

Friday, April 17, 2020

NAPOWRIMO April 17, 2020 International Haiku Day

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

life goes on despite
your plans to control its path
learn to mind the road

©2020 Noreen Braman

Thursday, April 16, 2020

NAPOWrIMO 2020 April 15 Cold

Cold /   four weeks housebound / overshadowed by death and denial / constant shivering   ©2020 Noreen Braman

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

NAPOWRIMO April 13, 2020 Reprimand

Image by Marisa04 from Pixabay

What the hell have I been doing
treading water, wasting time
making other people look good

crying over songs and stories
that once inspired me to dream.

I have forgotten my own words

that dreams die fast in the crush of daily life
unwatered plants that shrivel
boxes of forgotten poems
words that will die with me.

The persistent, the motivated, the disciplined,

wave as they pass me on the road
patting my back condescendingly
smiling at me sympathetically
leaving me in their dust.

What the hell have I been doing

fooling myself with promises of “someday”
while in reality not willing to do the work
finally understanding my life has been more
about the dreaming than the doing.

©2020 Noreen Braman

Saturday, April 11, 2020

NAPOWRIMO April 11, 2020 Once


Once a solitaire poet, treading water in a tidal pool,
prayed to any deity available to calm the waves,
redirect the tide and clear the sky
bringing the land in sight.

Once a solitaire poet, scrambling to climb a rocky slope,
cried out to be given a heart made of stone,
a new path through the wilderness
leading far away from pain.

Once a solitaire poet, bolting a door with finality,
swore allegiance to none and asked for none in return,
survival the only aspiration required,
donning the armor of betrayal.

©2020 Noreen Braman

Thursday, April 9, 2020

NAPOWRIMO April 9, 2020 The Sleeper

April Moon ©2020 Noreen Braman
The Sleeper

April moon aligns, highlighting the sleeper
who, on turning will surely wake.
I gently pull the shade down
missing immediately the light of my sky charm,
talisman since my birth.
I sacrifice the night glow for the love of later life,
keeping shut the window knowing
the sounds of the night cherished while alone
have given way to a pattern of shared breath,
pulsing through a shared life
over which an illuminated sentinel
keeps watch.
©2020 Noreen Braman

Monday, April 6, 2020

NAPOWRIMO APRIL 6, 2020 Sunset

Cape May Sunset ©2019 Noreen Braman
“Losing everything is like the sun going down on me.”
Songwriters: Bernie Taupin / Elton John
Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me


Colors at the end of day
tongues of distant signal fires,
light the way to hearth and home
and all the soul desires.

Not the burning crimson flames
from rows of funeral pyres
lit by wailing weeping forms
who grief alone attires.

All the kings and queens and thrones
every last one of the empires,
ends in conflagration
Destroyed in symbolic hellfires.

Still, standing as the sun goes down
The soul seeks what it admires,
And takes what solace it can find
Before her time expires.

©2020 Noreen Braman

Sunday, April 5, 2020

NAPOWRIMO 4-5-2020 Life, Star Crossed

Comet Hyakutake  Image by skeeze from Pixabay

Life, Star-Crossed

Through the stars I have tracked

a comet’s far-flung path,

spending light years out in darkness

 circling back into the light,

as close to the inferno as I dare.

Then swinging back out,

the glare at my back growing softer

until I can see untold galaxies,

my neighbors and fellow travelers.

Knowing each completion of my orbit

leaves behind more of me,

falling stars to wish upon,

until I become a whisper,

remembered in poetry and paint.

©2020 Noreen Braman

Saturday, April 4, 2020

NAPOWRIMO 4-4-2020 A Song of Limbic Hijack

"Is there an after to disaster?"
-       Julie Bartha-Vasquez,  A Year That Would Be Better Off  Not

“… Although historically the amygdala was considered to be involved primarily in fear and other emotions related to aversive (unpleasant) stimuli, it is now known to be involved in positive emotions elicited by appetitive (rewarding) stimuli.”

A Song of Limbic Hijack 

Oh amygdala, where are you?
is it not your function to balance
anticipatory fear with supportive memory?
Have I not provided you with enough joy
to calm me in this death-bringing disaster?
Have I not embedded enough hours of happiness
to bulwark me against this tempest?
Oh amygdala, I know that you
are the guarded repository
of the weaponized laughter aimed at me,
the betrayals of my heart,
the losses from which there was no escape.
Still, there were smiles, and laughter and love,
in copious measure overflowing.
Surely enough to prove to me
that “no evil lasts forever, nor indeed for very long."*
Oh amygdala, I turn to you
to hold the line on my resilience.

©2020 Noreen Braman

*Epicurus, 341–270 BC