Katie Staten

Life through a Literary Lens

NaPoWriMo 21 – Grenades

We were talking about grenade launchers.
Which is to say, loosely, that we were talking
about ways in which things explode–
like sunset bursting into copper mist
over the river under a rusting steel bridge,
or the way the earth shatters
under handholds and footholds, leaving
behind filthy shoes and filthy palms.
We were talking about grenades,
which is to say, loosely, that there is so much
ready to explode as it’s leaving our grasp.


Today’s NaPoWriMo.net poem was to write a poem based on overheard dialogue, so my coworker shouting “We were talking about grenade launchers!” is what I decided to use.

Today’s first recommendation: “Beaches” by Rafael Casal (video)

Today’s fellow NaPoWriMo participant recommendation: “Accident” over at Arash’s Poetry


NaPoWriMo 20 – Checkers

Every man only
a hurdle. Each thinks he has
parts of me between
his teeth, thinks cornering me
is safest. I leap. King me.


I told myself I couldn’t play the game I downloaded from Steam unless I did NaPoWriMo today. Turns out that’s pretty good motivation.

Today’s NaPoWriMo.net prompt was to write a poem using terms from a game or sport. I know nothing about sports whatsoever, so game it was.

Today’s first recommendation: “The 17-Year-Old & the Gay Bar” by Danez Smith

Today’s fellow NaPoWriMo participant recommendation: “9-ball” by emangarduque

2/3 done!

NaPoWriMo 19 – Creation

In the beginning,
there was us.
Of course, so much
came before us–
explosions, formations,
everything being made
and everything moving away
from everything else,
a million other planets,
maybe, that created life first–
only we are at the beginning
of all of our stories,
so in the beginning
there was us,
exactly as we are now,
and we created so much
in our own image,
not least of which every god
who was ever supposed
to have made us.


Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to write about a creation myth. Again I’m not thrilled with how it came out and I’m gonna be taking it pretty easy (i.e. maybe not doing a daily recommendation for a little while or writing very short off-prompt poems) while I assess whether I want to finish NaPoWriMo. This is about when the burnout happened last year and I pushed through it, but I don’t want to keep on writing poems I’m not happy with and not learning anything from, which seems to be happening more the last few days. We’ll see, though. I’ll do my best to get myself back on track to finish, but regardless, I’ve already done a lot of what I set out to do and I can be proud of that.

NaPoWriMo18 – Haiku

They don’t come today.
I leave food for the wild ones
And wait ’til midnight.


Not following the NaPoWriMo prompt or doing recommendations today, unfortunately, as I waited until 11:40pm to start writing. Um. Oops. But at least I got something written and posted.

NaPoWriMo 17 – Nocturne

I think once
the glass of the ocean broke
into shards and fell upwards
into the sky,
and that
is why
we have the stars.
What is night
if not an ocean? What
is the rooftop, if not
a quiet, sturdy shore?
In quiet
in the Midwest
we do not have the solace
of the Pacific or the Atlantic.
We have our own kind
of vastness,
ever breathing,
rolling on and on
like waves.


Today’s NaPoWriMo.net prompt was to write a nocturne-inspired poem, so here is this.

Today’s first recommendation: “Dark Ages” by Katrina Vandenberg

Today’s fellow NaPoWriMo participant recommendation: “Butterfly Effect, Night” by notesfromabinbag.

An Open Letter To My Heart

Dear Heart,
I know that one day
you will stop.
I learned a long time ago
to not be afraid–
all hearts

All hearts eventually find
that the slog of beating
is too much,
has been too much
for a long time.

I’m there, too.
The slog repetition
is too much,
and I am not as dedicated
as you. I am not
as grateful

to you
as I should be.
Dear heart,
I know you might have been expecting
a love poem.
When is the last time
I wrote a love
I only wanted to tell you
that I know you
are patient.


Today’s NaPoWriMo.net prompt was to write a poem in the form of a letter. I’ve written letter poems before that I think turned out better than this, but I didn’t sit down to write until after 9:30 and it’s a holiday and I worked today and I’m tired.

Today’s first recommendation is “Ode to My Bitch Face” by Olivia Gatwood (video).

Today’s fellow NaPoWriMo participant recommendation is “J. Alfred Prufrock Receives Junk Mail” by Ridiculousknits, because I’m a sucker for T.S. Eliot references.

NaPoWriMo 15 – Zeno’s Paradox

The storm
is not actually coming.

It’s mathematics–
that’s why the weathermen

are always wrong.
You see,

in order for the storm
to come,

it must first get halfway

and then first it must
get halfway

to halfway,
and halfway to halfway to–

See, the weathermen have
promised torrents

every day this week,
haven’t they?

Zeno is stronger
than Zeus.

The storm
is not coming.

These billowing clouds,
like movement,
are only an illusion.


We’re halfway done with April, so the NaPoWriMo.net prompt of the day was to write something about halfway, and who doesn’t love a good paradox?

Today’s recommendation: “Emerald Spider Between Rose Thorns” by Dean Young

Today’s recommendation of a fellow NaPoWriMo participant: “Would You, Could You, Should We” by bg-grizzo

NaPoWriMo 14 – Current Events

Alt-right leader Richard Spencer
thinks that he is being censored.
We just don’t like to hear his thoughts–see,
what we like is punching Nazis.

Today’s NaPoWriMo.net prompt was a clerihew, a short poem that satirizes a famous person. So this was a fun, kind of break from more serious attempts, and also a little bit cathartic.

Today’s recommendation: “Ode to Britney Spears, Ending in a Flood” by Hanif Abdurraqib

Today’s fellow participant recommendation: These Day 14 clarihews by M.J. Smith.

NaPoWriMo 13 – Out

You can feel the exact moment when the fear is coming out
And it happens when you realize what you fear is coming out

And it happens in a store where the words fall too softly
because a mother and her child nearby are where the fear is coming out

And it happens at the dinner table, where conversation leads
to choking on more than bones when the fear is coming out

And it happens in the slow thoughts, in the careful deliberation
over clothes, or words, or subtle hints your fear is coming out

And it happens in the questions, in the quiet, in the quick
thoughts racing for excuses when the fear is coming out


Today’s prompt NaPoWriMo.net prompt was a Ghazal, described here.

Today’s first recommendation: “Cityscape” by Eavan Boland

Today’s recommendation of a fellow participant: “Night Flies By” by My Own Garden of Verse“Night Flies By” by My Own Garden of Verse

NaPoWriMo 12 – Waiting

Here’s a heaviness in the morning, heeded
even by the spring cardinals. Each breath
more filling, each quiet more full. Everywhere
the air thick with gray and quiet,
the call of morning muffled, almost
suffocating, smothered by the expecting,
the whole sky a fallow field in waiting–

and then, a new cacophony. Ten thousand
stuttering staccato beats tittering
on the rooftop, all this silence
exploding into a gale of laughter,
demanding that we drink, that we
wake, that we wake, that we wake.


Today’s NaPoWriMo.net prompt was alliteration, which can always be fun.

First recommendation of the day: “What the Dead Know by Heart” by Donte Collins, a favorite writer from my own semi-local poetry scene.

And my recommendation of a NaPoWriMo participaint’s poem: “Madness Bewitches Me” by Rahul Gaur