Five Examinations of Joy

Day 6:

Five Examinations of Joy


My mother’s hands,
they smelled vaguely of bleach when I was young. At night I’d reach for her in the dark, take her hand and lightly pull on skin over her knuckles. How the act of examination seemed to comfort me. I knew she did so much. She worked. She cleaned. She kept me full.  Zoetic and pliant hands, they could do everything. I’d rest my ear  in the palm. Close my eyes and breathe in. Fall asleep and breathe out. Comfort became breaths in synchronous drags of air, sweeping up the dusk with exhaling sighs.


You hated the music I liked to listen.
And I tolerated yours. Sometimes we danced in the kitchen after finishing a bottle of red. We don’t even find pleasure in the same melodies, how could we expect to match steps? Yet there we were torsos touching, hands on waist, and on shoulder, held together. We halfheartedly sway to a compromise. And I think I don’t feel you in this music, in this space. Touch is merely a  nearing of electric fields. The collection of  atoms we are never actually touch. Matter hovers against matter against matter and so forth, repelling. That’s how we existed. At a limit. Saved from the real possibility we could fall into everything and each other, collapse oneself  and be catastrophically nothing. I’m more myself dancing alone.


I admire the quick comebacks.
The recollection of an awkward moment, the playful tease, and a sarcastic dish when it’s least expected. I like guffaws that sound like swelling bass sections, and chuckles filled to the brim that they threaten to spill into snorts. I especially like how my daughter and I often catch each other’s glance to find a funny face. We laugh and laugh ourselves tired over nothing, robbing the diaphragm of its harmony  to spoil the cochlea.


Even when I’m listening,
I have a habit of responding with “huh?”
I like how you talk about the things that matter to you.  I like how you tell a story, how you take a deep breath as you search for the right words. As if synonyms float with the dust caught in sunlight and it’s best to take it all in. Your voice sounds like the trinkets shifting lightly in a tin box.  You wrap your lips around vowels like a gold setting around a jewel. And play with conjunctions like a string of pearls between your fingers. My trove of shining, precious things, you point out to me when I go to long without smiling.


My uncles entertained themselves with my cousins and me, by giving our clumsy American tongues a lesson in the curious undulation of Mexican linguistics. We were amused by this game.  They’d throw words at us like:

                       and just for kicks: bombón.

These words sounded like drum beats and foot stomps and my mouth could only produce a cheap recording.  Parangaricutirimicuaro is an orchestrated fiasco in which I watched every syllable thrown at me just shy of my grasp. The others were a skill needing time to master, I heard them like carving tools against wood and stone. But bombón. The subtle difference in Om and On was on a delicate frequency I failed to pick up.


-Alejandra Garza


NaPoWriMo – “our (optional) prompt. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that looks at the same thing from various points of view. The most famous poem of this type is probably Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”. You don’t need to have thirteen ways of looking at something – just a few will do!”

Poetics Aside – “For today’s prompt, write a poem about a sound. The poem could be about a small sound, a loud sound, a happy sound, or a creepy sound. And yes, music sounds count as well.”


Periodic Properties of a Feline

Day 5

Periodic Properties of a Feline

Highly reactive when encountering containers.
This element will bend and shape
itself into every squared or spherical
vessel  it comes across.
Acts like a fluid, but is not.
Though an unpredictable occurrence,
this element is also a good conductor of heat.
And by some paradoxical understanding in the universe,
can return to its original state 9 times over.

In this reality or the simultaneous next which is
invisible to the naked eye,
it spontaneously travels in positive charges.
When exposed to light, it can stabilize,
remain perfectly solid.

-Alejandra Garza

NaPoWriMo – “here is our prompt for Day Five (as always, the prompt is optional). In honor of Mary Oliver’s work, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that is based in the natural world: it could be about a particular plant, animal, or a particular landscape. But it should be about a slice of the natural world that you have personally experienced and optimally, one that you have experienced often. Try to incorporate specific details while also stating why you find the chosen place or plant/animal meaningful.”

Poetics Aside – “For today’s prompt, pick an element (like from the periodic table), make it the title of your poem (or part of the title), and then, write the poem. Anything goes from hydrogen to oganesson.”

If You See it Pick it Up

Day 4

If You See it Pick it Up

As with any other day,
today is a day to decide on something.
There’s a fifty/fifty chance you won’t.
But like most of your decisions,
you just might. Might as well.
This morning you saw it.
An answer.
Shining through the heatwaves
atop a parking lot.
When you see it pick it up.
Throw in your pocket,
you’re saving thoughts,
think it over, try your luck.
You have all day, will it be yes or no?
This evening you saw it.
An answer.
A pretty one. Worn thin in some
places but no other change.
When you’re ready let it drop.
Should it land between your feet,
you’ll face your choice
with certainty.
You had all day, is it yes or no?
What’s it going to be?

Alejandra Garza

NaPoWriMo – “And now for our prompt (optional, as always). One of the most popular British works of classical music is Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations. The “enigma” of the title is widely believed to be a hidden melody that is not actually played, but which is tucked somehow into the composition through counterpoint. Today I’d like you to take some inspiration from Elgar and write a poem with a secret – in other words, a poem with a word or idea or line that it isn’t expressing directly. The poem should function as a sort of riddle, but not necessarily a riddle of the “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” variety.”

Poetics Aside – “Today is our first Tuesday of the month. If this is your first poem-a-day rodeo, then I have a special treat for you today, because I do Two-for-Tuesday prompts for these challenges. You can write to one prompt; write to the other; or try to do both. Totally up to you.
Here are the two prompts for today:

  • Write a beginning poem. And, of course, when something begins, it often signals something else ending. Soooo, the other prompt is to…
  • Write an ending poem. Poem about something ending.”

Put to Rest the Firsts of Love

Day 3:

Put to Rest the Firsts of Love

The first to go,
by some slow undetected illness
had to be my eager wakefulness.
It was that feeling, 
like a buzzing before lightning strikes,
I had right before your voice
came through the receiver at late hours
when the rest of the world felt empty.
Sleeplessness was kindling,
and the name that you had for me
as you whispered your goodbye
was like a reckless firebolt.
Next, the sweet nothings
departed suddenly.
Where something pained,
you harvested false spores.
Your devoted words dropped
like amber globs in my hands and
I thought I had the nectar of you.
Words alone won’t make something flourish though.
Honey is suppose to never expire,
heal you when you have trouble speaking.
No suprise you dissolved with my tears.
If I hear that name now, the one you had for me,
by some coincidence, it sounds like static.

  • Alejandra Garza
    NAPOWRIMO 2017

NaPoWriMo – “And now for our (optional) prompt! Today I’d like to challenge you to write an elegy – a poem that mourns or honors someone dead or something gone by. And I’d like to ask you to center the elegy on an unusual fact about the person or thing being mourned.”

Poetics Aside – “For today’s prompt, take the phrase “(blank) of Love,” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles could include: “Water Bottle of Love,” “Smart Phone of Love,” “Toothbrush of Love,” “Tweet of Love,” or any number of blanks of love. I actually kind of love this prompt and am surprised I’ve never done it before.”

A recipe for one fucked up week

Day 2

A recipe for one fucked up week
You need the following dry ingredients:

Four fat packets of unspeakable traffic,
best if organic and unreported.
Three unscheduled two-hour meetings to discuss nothing
absolutely nothing important whatsoever
(you may substitute with email but
add a tablespoon of spamware for similar results)
A compact cup of cancelled plans ,
look for the petty brand, it’s the chef’s favorite

And the following wet ingredients:
A generous gallon of leakage in the middle
of your kitchen ceiling.
A brilliant cup of coffee
spilled on your cream colored suit you secretly
knew it’s a nice thing you can’t have
16 ounces of grandiose tears either from
school yard fights, a broken heart or PMS,
whichever you have on hand.
And finally as a topping,
make a glaze out of a
drizzle of unsolicited advice
with a sprinkling of what you
thought was the snooze button
but it was actually the off button.

Dump all ingredients together in one bowl.
Mix them together with vigor using your hands
No need to make it smooth. It tastes better
when everything is not well incorporated.
Stick the bowl into a preheated oven at 450 degrees
because I know you misplaced your cake pan. Again.
Bake until your week falls
deliciously apart into a hot mess with the slightest poke

– Alejandra Garza

NaPoWriMo – “here is our prompt (as always, optional). Today, I’d like you to write a poem inspired by, or in the form of, a recipe! It can be a recipe for something real, like your grandmother’s lemon chiffon cake, or for something imaginary, like a love potion or a spell.”

Poetics Aside – “For today’s prompt, write a “not today” poem. Maybe it’s normal to give in to outside pressures, but not today. Or maybe you’re usually very disciplined in your health and wellness habits, but not today. Or maybe you struggle to write poems, but not today.”



Day 1

Last night
when I turned
my body
the sheets
feeling out
cold spots
with my feet,
tuning the springs
of the bed
with the sliding
of my hip,
was no
for the head
to conspire
with the heart.
Synaptic plasticity
it’s called
when memory
muscles in,
like when cold spots
come to do more,
lest you forgot,
how to recover.
I call it
emotive plasticity.
To rediscover
the center
of the mattress,
that although
you’ve left
I am still verve
still lucent warmth.

  • Alejandra Garza
    NAPOWRIMO 2017

NaPoWriMo – “I’d like to challenge you to write a Kay-Ryan-esque poem: short, tight lines, rhymes interwoven throughout, maybe an animal or two, and, if you can manage to stuff it in, a sharp little philosophical conclusion.”

Poetics Aside – “For today’s prompt, write a reminiscing poem. In my mind, this means a poem that remembers something (a moment, a relationship, etc.). The poem could be kind of nostalgic or sharing lessons learned. But for those new to these challenges, you should know that I consider these prompts open to interpretation–so if you have another take, go for it.”