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National Poetry Month 2020: April 27 — where the dust fairies dance

April 27, 2020

The Santa Barbara Channel islands from Arroyo Verde park in Ventura CA

Where I’m calling from: Borchard Street bookmobile where the dust fairies dance.


Books everywhere
my father and mother always reading,
the library offering our sole entertainment
too broke for books of our own
from our rental, we walk to the Bookmobile:
my mother gathers us three kids and a pile of books
in the stroller with my little sister Laurie.

The Bookmobile a magical place
crammed full with fresh delights
narrow aisles with dust caught in sunlight
the librarian greets us by name
with armloads of special ordered books:
we went every week, always plenty to read.

We move across town to a house of our own
my dad uses the car to commute to LA–
he works as a plumber when there’s work:
the mile to the library more a trek
at 5 I’m too big for the wagon of books and siblings
so I walk and skip back and forth alongside, ahead, behind
peer between the ivy on the chain link into the barranca.

A wild thing, my feet burn in too small shoes
I’m warned it’s dangerous to be barefoot in the library
I see how sparks fly, feel the shock from static electricity
– how much worse could it be I wonder:
I carefully avoid touching the ground with my hands or knees
crouching in my search for books, for life outside.

Last week, this poem was submitted to the Ventura County Poetry contest as well as this one.

Each of us has a distinct history/background and memory of where we’re from, they say. Let’s paint those memories with words about your life, your home, your culture and your family.  Where you are from.

Directions: Submit up to three poems no longer than 35 lines.  Your name should not appear on the poems but on a cover sheet that includes your email, address and phone number. If under 18 – include your age. Let us know your favorite Library.  Our particular faves are the libraries that have poetry readings but of course, we love them all. Deadline April 21, 2020.

At the beginning of this post and poem, almost like an epilogue, is an American Sentence, today’s American Sentence. I’ve been writing and posting one or more each day in April.

April is National Poetry Month plus locked down with stay in place orders so I’m trying to post an American sentence or two every day along with an image if possible that reflects the sentence and my experience during this time. 

Allen Ginsberg came up with the concept — an American sentence is like a haiku in that it has 17 syllables but it’s not three lines in a stanza but one line, a sentence. As haiku seeks to offer an image that generates emotion and conveys a moment in time, the best Sentences do more than just be a sentence in 17 syllables.

I learned about American Sentences from Paul E. Nelson who I met at the Taos Poetry Circus in 2000.

According to Paul, the key to writing a good American Sentence comes from Ginsberg’s notion that poets are people who notice what they notice.

He has been writing one a day since January 1, 2001. Learn more about American Sentences and how to write good ones from Paul here.








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