A Golden Shovel of Fire
After Pablo Neruda
On my last day, I will be a wild-haired
crone, a shriveled dragon spitting fire.
I will stand on street corners, not jumpy
or cold, in my Goodwill gumboots and
layers of flammable wool, blind
to gawkers, to compromise, to handouts, but
ablaze with a conflagration of couplets to Medicaid, and still studded
with enough reason not to torch the food bank, with
enough pride to look young poets in their mocking eyes,
half-remembered sonnets, tardy
but embroiling metaphors and
charred rhythms unpredictable
as the sun, golden
as a dying star.
On my last day, I will ignite my successor, an image thief,
a highly combustable, thin-as-kindling kid made of
pine or fir, the soft wood
of forest infernos, a not silent,
bellower of outlaw
flames who can keep the poetic blaze alive, a cooker
of carrot cinquains of
odes to onions,
one not necessarily a renowned
bard or bardette, or burning with merch, nor a sapphic swindler
of staggering greatness, or a scorching sorcerer or sorceress of slam cloaked
and branded in
sizzling Shakespearean sparks.
Day 5: Todays NaPoWriMo challenge was to write a “Golden Shovel,” a form invented by Terrance Hayes in his poem, “The Golden Shovel,” in which the last word of each line is a word from Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “We Real Cool.” If you read the last words of each line of Hayes’ poem in sequence, you’ll actually be reading Brooks’ complete poem.
A lover of Pablo Neruda, I stole all of 28 words from the first 10 lines of “Ode to Fire,” found in Odes to Opposites, and wrote them down as end words. The challenge, huge but enormously amusing for me, was then to write the rest of each line. If you read only the emboldened end words of my poem (after reading the entire poem, of course!) you will find that together they comprise the first 10 lines of Pablo Neruda‘s original poem:
and blind but studded with eyes,
tardy, and unpredictable
thief of wood,
cooker of onions,
renowned swindler cloaked in sparks.
Watercolor by the author.