Why Icebergs Melt & Humankind is in trouble – NaPoWriMo 2016, Day 21 – minor character in fairy story!


Why Icebergs Melt and Humankind is in Trouble
(Based on the story not of The Little Mermaid
but the fifth mermaid sister whose love of an
has iceberg has spiralled out of control.)

With a tale like mine it must be told, brief
and full of joy. No one knows that I have
a voice and my life, though it seems has
a limited span, lives on forever in other
form. I shared my story with all icebergs
like me. We are a mermaids’ sanctuary, and
we embrace the spirit, our hearts as sprite; as
these beautiful creatures of the sea. Not to be
feared by any, as told by the man Hans, who
lived in the far north in the land of mermaids
and icebergs.

I am the iceberg the fifth mermaid
chose to clamber upon on the magical
evening of her fifteenth birthday. Here
she released her hair to the lifting winds.
I could feel her heart beating. She had
no fear of that night. Lightning flashed
boldly across the sky, ships in full sail
in the distance. And I was part of it all
as about us the waves swept wild.

With dawn she slipped down my seaward
slope, calm, though her heart beat like the
softest lap of the ocean’s own calm. Her
oyster shell adornments, for she was a
mermaid of rank, her oyster shells were
clattering, sea-pulsing accompaniments
to her mermaid delight. I will return she
said, but I will return with five of me.

And they came. Every evening, the mermaids
five, rose arms entwined and they sang songs
of such incredible beauty. They know the
weather and sing to the sailors with whom
their sole wish is  to share the beauty of the
world of mermaids and icebergs like me.
Join with the beauty of icebergs, the whales,
the oysters, the foliage also. We would make
of the whole planet an ocean and its beauty.

My mermaid, the fifth daughter in the
mermaid family always adds her love
and her longing for one iceberg, one
on which she alone endorsed, composed
the melodies of the mermaids’ sanctuary.

And when icebergs melt back to the sea
we are happy, no heart’s ache to us. We
melt back to the ocean to be constantly
close to mermaids and in time hurry north
to become a frozen entity and take our
turn when the fifth daughters of the fifth
of mermaids who forever clamber our height
and let their hair stream free, waiting for
the storms which have grown enormously.
Storms which take the ocean further and
further inland. We would make the whole
planet an ocean and its beauty. The sailors
know it and they curse. They had long had
sufficient ocean and land as declared for
the needs of humankind.

Some men look with anger to mermaids
who every year melt icebergs as each fifth
mermaid longs for her icebergs’ embrace.
She would fill the whole planet for the
overwhelming love of an iceberg till
all the world is an ocean and she is in
the arms of her lover. And one day no
iceberg will return for their meeting as
one solid and one melting; all will be warm ocean.

Benita H. Kape © 22.4.2016
And now, for our prompt (optional as always!) Just as Rosa Jamila’s poems often sound like they come out of a myth or fairy tale (and not always one with a happy ending), today I challenge you to write a poem in the voice of minor character from a fairy tale or myth. Instead of writing from the point of view of Cinderella, write from the point of view of the mouse who got turned into a coachman. Instead of writing from the point of view of Orpheus or Eurydice, write from the point of view of one of the shades in Hades who watched Eurydice leave and then come back


Brother Number Two – NaPoWriMo 2016 – Day 20 – keening poem


Brother Number Two

face – puller
sister – teaser
chalk – thief  ( a deskfull)
clayball – biffer (goodies & baddies)
kitten – drowner
parson – impersonator (mute layer of kittens to rest)

whare – builder (to give the boys a room of their own)
wood – turner
donothingmachine – designer
finger – slicer
trick two – finger stapler (industrial)
canoe – canoer
super yacht – builder                                                                                                                                         ski bunny – chaser
shawl – knitter
But for me brother number one.

Benita H. Kape © 20.4.2016

*whare – said f o (as in orange) ree. A Maori word for house dwelling  as apposed to Marae which is a meeting house. This was a small sleep-out as a room for the boys (large family). I changed it to that from the word bach (much used in NZ for similar dwelling, usually though a bach is seen as a holiday dwelling. Unusual to have used such a word before the Maori renaissance of recent years.

And finally, our prompt (optional, as always)! Today’s prompt comes to us from Vince Gotera, who suggests a prompt very much in keeping with our poet in translation, a “kenning” poem. Kennings were riddle-like metaphors used in the Norse sagas. Basically, they are ways of calling something not by its actual name, but by a sort of clever, off-kilter description — for example, the sea would be called the “whale road.” Today, I challenge you to think of a single thing or person (a house, your grandmother, etc), and then write a poem that consists of kenning-like descriptions of that thing or person. For example, you might call a cat a mouse-stalker, quiet-walker, bird-warner, purr-former, etc. If you’re looking for examples, you can find one that Vince wrote here and a different example here. Happy writing!


Something loud in the night – NaPoWriMo 2016 – Day 19


Something Loud in the Night

Something in the night so loud it startled.
Like a low flying helicopter it bore down.
And I knew it was the neighbours’ dog Arnold.
When he snores he sends me into meltdown.

Like a low flying helicopter it bears down.
I’ve told the neighbours a million times,
It’s time for Arnolds’ snoring to be shutdown.
He’s much as his master; use human’s paradigms.

I’ve told the neighbours a million times;
Teach him to sing if you can.
Try a little ragtime before bedtimes,
And don’t let him sleep on his back is a plan.

Teach him to sing if you can.
No more low flying helicopters bore down.
Never letting him sleep on his back was a plan.
No more in the night, something so loud it startled.

Benita H. Kape © 19.4.2016

I’ve done a villanelle before, but this is my first pantoum (I think)
And now for our prompt (optional, as always)! Many years ago, “didactic” poetry was very common – in other words, poetry that explicitly sought to instruct the reader in some kind of skill or knowledge, whether moral, philosophical, or practical. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write the latter kind of “how to” poem – a didactic poem that focuses on a practical skill. Hopefully, you’ll be able to weave the concrete details of the action into a compelling verse. Also, your “practical” skill could be somewhat mythological, imaginary, or funny, like “How to Capture a Mermaid” or “How to Get Your Teenager to Take Out the Garbage When He Is Supposed To.” Happy writing!


A Dodgy Bugger! – NaPoWriMo 2016 – Day 18 – sounds of home, very much tongue in cheek


A Dodgy Bugger!

My eldest brother was very young,
fourteen, when he left school to go
and work in the wop-wops. It’s highly
unlikely he took a tiki tour to get there.

He was a dodgy bugger, my brother: or did
he say that about someone he knew? Mother
said, (she said it often) don’t swear . I nearly
dropped dead the first time I heard my father
swear. Every night as we finished dinner and
been read a chapter from the bible he said “bow
your heads in prayer.”

My parents were stoked, but only momentarily,
the day my brother arrived back on our doorstep
with a bright red sports car. But it didn’t last long;
he just wasn’t the racy sort. It was usually my
other brother up the creek without a paddle. He was
the one mostly in trouble. And he always came out
saying she’ll be right. And it was, ‘cos at eighty four
he’s still going strong. My eldest brother is long dead.

Benita H. Kape © 19.4.2016

Wop wops – middle of nowhere
Tiki tour – to go on a journey with no destination in mind.
Dodgy – someone suspicion or suspect
Drop dead – said with exaggeration at some fearsome surprise.
Certainly not said in the same way we might today say ‘drop dead gorgeous’
Stoked – pleased, almost excited about something
Up the creek without a paddle – in trouble. We had plenty of small
running creeks where we lived.
She’ll be right – meaning the outcome will probably be good, or
don’t worry about it

These terms and saying are still used by Kiwis but some of them less so.

And now for our prompt (optional, as always)! Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates “the sound of home.” Think back to your childhood, and the figures of speech and particular ways of talking that the people around you used, and which you may not hear anymore. My grandfather and mother, in particular, used several phrases I’ve rarely heard any others say, and I also absorbed certain ways of talking living in Charleston, South Carolina that I don’t hear on a daily basis in Washington, DC. Coax your ear and your voice backwards, and write a poem that speaks the language of home, and not the language of adulthood, office, or work.


Back When I – NaPoWriMo 2016 – Day 17


Back When I was Ten Year old
To: Noeline

She sits knitting and knitting, this sister of mine.
She is only twelve years old, but very smart.
Counting the pixels of a lino frieze on the wall,
Close to her vision behind her on the couch.

Two colours only is what she will use.
Balls of gold, balls of green. Woollen threads
She weaves as she copies this design,
Into a Fair-isle Sunday cardigan for me.

The fair-isle cardigan, like every knitted
Garment, garments of all sorts, passed
Down in a family of nine.
And how my sister knitted, loved knitting!

She knitted garments in Mock-cable stitch;
Bubble-stitch and Chevron,
Herring-bone and Blue-bell rib,
Scallop Stitch and Honeycomb-lace.

And after she retired from retail;
Selling fabric and haberdashery to farmer’s wives,
She fed her passion, her industry,
With her knitting machines, shawl after shawl.

Tiny bonnets, bootees, singlets: she stitched their seams
While watching telly in the evening.
Widowed, children gone she worked on and on.
With her knitting seven days a week

Sharing her skills with others,
Until, almost overnight, she lost
The sight in one eye.
And then her hips played her up.

Her machines (all three) she sold:
Took up embroidery
Stitches with similar names –
Cable-stitch, Herring-stitch and Honeycomb.

But as with knitting and embroidery
Life can zig-zag to a sad change of pattern.
Though I will forever see her as then
Knitting a Fair-isle cardigan for me.

Benita H. Kape © 17.4.2016

And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Today, I challenge you to find, either on your shelves or online, a specialized dictionary. This could be, for example, a dictionary of nautical terms, or woodworking terms, or geology terms. Anything, really, so long as it’s not a standard dictionary! Now write a poem that incorporates at least ten words from your specialized source


The Witch’s Messenger – NaPoWriMo 2016 – Day 16



The Witch’s Messanger
(Poem: made up from replies
to an Almanac Questionaire)

Dull and cloudy, green and lush,
here in my secret garden with
a view of the harbour where seals
fetch up as autumn sets in. My stucco
cottage, paths for dragons, and one black
cat asleep under the hibiscus. Down in
the harbour pine logs, harvested from
our great forests, are loaded onto ocean
going vessels. And I dream of going back
to Canada so I set up a trust, Panama-esk.
(Who thought of that?) Still it’s there so
they use it. I’m about to meet with
someone, but I can’t say whom, at
a café I love. However, they did not
then appear and I heard there had been
a road accident. One of the injured
was wearing a blue tee-shirt. Oh,
help that was me I say to my sister,
reliving a recurring nightmare. Now
we are both in tears as I reply to
the text you sent asking me who
wrote that graffiti about Panama, and
what time will you arrive, and no –
I don’t believe you are The Witch’s

Benita H. Kape © 16.4.2016

This was more fun.


Kissing the Couplet – NaPoWriMo 2016 – Day 15 – things double


Kissing the Couplet

Another day, another poem nudge.
Through rhyme, rhythm, line by line trudge.

Here then begun and two lines run,
a couplet that could give way to a pun;

the suitability of each word questioning,
tendering, peppering, lettering, measuring.

All in readiness an arrow tempestuous;
all, all necessitous, disingenuous,

the turns, assonance, alliteration beggar,
to make me a poem worthily mega.

Grows me a couplet a few lines longer
Loosing humour and turning sombre.

Not that I begrudge her any of this.
Two lines more a sonnet to kiss.

Out, out damn sombre; for pure joy a couplet.
A kiss, poem claims, toasting all tones dulcet.

Benita H. Kape © 15.4.2016

And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Because today marks the halfway point in our 30-day sprint, today I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates the idea of doubles. You could incorporate doubling into the form, for example, by writing a poem in couplets. Or you could make doubles the theme of the poem, by writing, for example, about mirrors or twins, or simply things that come in pairs. Or you could double your doublings by incorporating things-that-come-in-twos into both your subject and form.


City with Fireworks – NaPoWriMo 2016 – Day 14 (2) – san san Chinese poem

City with Fireworks

From a vantage point over the city.
Across the city fireworks light up the night sky,
Buildings, parks, schools lit up in a city alive.
Alive in a city, the dark lanes that scarify.
Down to the city fireworks fast tentacles dive,
And what was hidden is hidden again.
And what, the city streets, will now occupy?
Below the city, centuries with stars overlain.

Benita H. Kape © 14.4.2016

My second go at this again today. A little happier with this san san

Today’s prompt comes to us from TJ Kearney, who invites us to try a seven-line poem called a san san, which means “three three” in Chinese (It’s also a term of art in the game Go). The san san has some things in common with the tritina, including repetition and rhyme. In particular, the san san repeats, three times, each of three terms or images. The seven lines rhyme in the pattern a-b-c-a-b-d-c-d.


San san/Small Flight & Finest – NaPoWriMo 2016 – Day 14


San San/Small Flight & Finest

Flying in warm air flow, a languid seagull.
Opening the wing span a global range.
Drifting the skies come rain or shine;
Air flow the seagull’s flight however small.
Global range, warm flow, drift over a grange.
‘The gull sees farthest who flies highest’.
Opening flow a drifting benign
Flying and drifting a bird at his finest.

Benita H. Kape © 14.4.2016

‘The gull sees farthest who flies highest’ from Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

And last but not least, our (optional) prompt! Today’s prompt comes to us from TJ Kearney, who invites us to try a seven-line poem called a san san, which means “three three” in Chinese (It’s also a term of art in the game Go). The san san has some things in common with the tritina, including repetition and rhyme. In particular, the san san repeats, three times, each of three terms or images. The seven lines rhyme in the pattern a-b-c-a-b-d-c-d.Seagull on Brunswick Heads


In Case of Fire – NaPoWriMo 2016 – Day 13 – take fortune cookies


In Case of Fire

Love if free. Lust will cost you everything you have.
A clear conscience is always a sign of a bad memory.
In case of fire, keep calm, pay bill and run.
The only thing constant is change.
Failure is the mother of all success.
I have a dream… Time to go to bed.

A merry heart does good like medicine
Do not be covered in sadness or be fooled
in happiness, they both must exist.
Be tactful; overlook your own opportunity.
Ladybirds will be seen as good omen.
Love can turn cottage into a golden palace.
Keep it simple. The more you say,
the less people remember.

Not all closed eye is sleeping nor open eye is seeing.
I think you ate your fortune while you were eating
your cookie. The best prophet of the future is the past.
Good news from afar may bring you a welcome visitor.
It’s a good thing that life is not as serious as it seems
to the waiter. Remember the fate of the early worm.
Bend the rod while it is still hot. The most important
thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.

Never upset the driver of the car you’re in; they are
the master of your destiny until you get home. Accept
that some days you’re the pigeon and some days you’re
the statue. The early bird gets the worm but the second
mouse gets the cheese. It never pays to kick a skunk.
All your fingers can’t be of the same length.

Sometimes you just need to lay on the floor.
Cookie say: you crack me up.
I have a dream… Time to go to bed.

Benita H. Kape © 14.4.2016