Inside-out the world turns its being Blank-eyed moon seeing Fragrant shampoo wine weaving air-mesh Melting night flesh Quiet, darkness makes creation reach salvation Listening walls, drumbeat pulsation from Secret portals locked in shadows Opened in slanting streetlight from windows that watch Blank-eyed moon seeing melting night flesh reach salvation.
30th April/ (11/30)/ Ovillejo
Woo! Yeah! Ovillejo ending to this year’s NaPoWriMo, baby. Trochaic tetrameter-dimeter alternating lines, rhyming couplets, lines 2-4-6 wrapped into line 10, the whole shebang.
It’s about thirty minutes to April officially ending, I’m being very inarticulate partly because I’m sick and partly because I want to publish this before twelve, the poem does not make as much sense as I’d hoped, I wrote fewer poems, I wrote bad poems— but god, I wrote. And although I won’t call this a ‘successful’ NaPoWriMo in terms of either quantity or quality, I’m kind of, sort of, satisfied with the whole thing because it got me out of a rut which was the sole reason I did it this year. I rediscovered some facts; facts like I can poem and I cannot not poem, even if I’m doing it badly or worse, mediocrely.
I’d end this here and that would be the wise thing to do too seeing how I have mere minutes left, but I wanted to give an insight into the making of this last poem which no one asked about but I’m going to give anyway because I worked so hard on it.
I urge you to imagine me as a pretentious film director for this next part.
So this poem, this ovillejo right here is actually a result of this frenzy of… half-poetic thoughts, I guess, that I typed down in my phone’s notes app one night when I couldn’t sleep.
A few days later, I wrote that note app nonsense into a poem, free verse of course, and this was the result, scribbled onto the back of an old question paper in class:
At one in the night the world turns itself inside out. Pupil-less, iris-less eye of the moon turns inward to introspect, it seems, and walls throb with quiet Jumanji drumbeat secrets. That shampoo used in the bathroom this morning, its lingering scent, faint in the daylight, becomes sweet intoxicating atmospheric wine in the night. The rhythmic tick-tock and distant fan's riff-roff seems so loud it'll sell you out for staying up but you don't want to go just yet because you feel so soluble. Your body dissolves in the dark lit only by the dim blue of your notes app because you did not want to drive out the dark. And though it seems so pleasant, the prospect of melting into the shadows You want to stay and see if that invisible portal in the wall will open, if the streetlight from the window shifts just a degree further. That photo frame which glows in the dark assures you it will, amd quietly sips on your guilt-and-revelation cocktail bearing witness, in its ethereal green glow to this calm frenzy of half-poetic ruminations the night planted in you.
So this was the basic skeleton which I was gonna work on, right, and I could’ve refined this one itself a bit and just gone with good ol’ free verse, but I wanted to push myself, you see, and try out something new, like the originally Spanish poetic form known as the ovillejo. I’ve always believed in the freeing power of poetry but sometimes experimentation with these seemingly restricted forms can lead to unexpectedly beautiful results. So I shelved it for a while because I was compelled into some more urgent matters, like my exams, and came back to it tonight. So the first thing I did was to sort of outline the basic ideas of my proto-poem, kind of classify them so I could put them into the ten lines the ovillejo demanded. Then, I wrote the ten lines without thinking about the rhyme or the meter, simply putting them into three couplets and a quatrain like so:
At one in the night the world turns itself inside out to look at itself with the moon's blank eye Intoxicated by the wine of that sweet shampoo in the air, its aroma so faint in the daylight when it was used Body feels soluble in the darkness you didn't drive out by that glow-in-the-dark photo frame Walls throb with quiet steady drumbeat secrets of the invisible portal that will open if the streetlight from the window shifts just a degree further As the moon's blank eye faintly watches you dissolve in the dark.
Now while writing this, although I was focussing on keeping it to ten lines, I had the key feature of the ovillejo at the back of my mind: the wrapping up of incomplete thoughts in the second line of each couplet at the end. And that’s what I ran with while writing the final draft as well. I first picked a meter, and I chose the trochee over the iamb this time because representation, right? Haha. Once I had that picked out I just had to make sure my lines alternated in the tetrameter-dimeter fashion, and I first wrote the ending lines of each couplet so I could wrap them up together in the last line. I was building my piece in a top-down manner, you could say. And finally, I completed my couplets and the quatrain and well, you’ve seen the finished piece.
Ahem. Pretentious film director Anisha gone, regular pretentious Anisha back. For real, though this may not have been ‘fun’ as I’d like you to believe, this was good, and things that are good for you are not always fun. There was a fun part, however, which was the very generous and very intelligent Starninja’s comments throughout which were on some days the only reminder of why I’d chosen to do NaPoWriMo this year against my initial lack of desire.
So… yeah. I suppose that’ll be all. If you’ve made it this far, you get brownie points. No, an actual special place on the list of people I owe brownies to. I’ll just see myself out.