NaPoWriMo Day 4 : First time in eighteen years!

“Our reading for the day is a pre-recorded one, so you can watch it whenever you like. It features the poet Ocean Vuong, reading at the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2017.

Poetry often takes us to strange places – to feelings and actions that are hard to express except through the medium of a poem. To the “liminal,” in other words – a place or sensation that exists at or on both sides of a boundary or threshold, neither one thing or the other, but something betwixt and between.

In honor of the always-becoming nature of poetry, I challenge you today to select a photograph from the perpetually disconcerting @SpaceLiminalBot, and write a poem inspired by one of these odd, in-transition spaces. Will you pick the empty mall food court? The vending machine near the back entrance to the high school gym? The swimming pool at what seems to be M.C. Escher’s alpine retreat? No matter what neglected or eerie space you choose, I hope its oddness tugs at the place in your mind and heart where poems are made.”

My poem ‘ First Time in Eighteen Years,’ is based on the picture of a vending machine in a school.

Meandering tongues of corridors lie vacant

Silence echoes loud

Blank walls hang their heads low, despondent

Despair floats like a grey cloud.

Melancholy eyes of classrooms return a death-like stare

Bright posters on the walls and etchings on desks;

Only reminder of the not-so-distant past

The quiet melody is hard to bear.

A moldy stillness has replaced the earlier burlesques

It’s been a year and no one knows how long this will last

The vending machine stands in the corridor unfed;

the food stale in his gut

He hasn’t got the old stuff out

‘Coz he hasn’t been receiving his med*

He’s elated; it doesn’t matter if he’s in a state of rut

For there’s something he remembers, if only he could shout-

‘The school’s as quiet as a morgue! No kidding!

That’s what they all talk about- the blackboard, the walls, the dusters and the doors.

The playground’s deserted, the locker rooms are dead.’

But they’ve forgotten the mass killing,

that happened in schools – the earth-shattering gunshots and the bloodstains on floors

“First time in eighteen years!” he says. “There have been none. It must be said.”

P.S. – The poem is based on a newspaper report which talks about 2020 being the first year in 18 years which went with no mass killings in schools in the U.S.

*meds- medications used as a metaphor for coins inserted into a vending machine All Rights Reserved.


8 responses to “NaPoWriMo Day 4 : First time in eighteen years!”

  1. Andrea Stephenson Avatar

    That’s a damning statistic and you’ve captured the despair and meaninglessness well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      I know right! It’s terribly disappointing that they have no way of controlling it. Thank you dear Andrea for reading it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. robbiesinspiration Avatar

    Yes, developed nations are not everything they’re cracked up to be and that’s a fact.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Yes and sadly Covid exposed them.


  3. Feelings and Freedom Avatar

    Such a sad state of affairs of the schools but you still managed to bring out the silver lining in the form of “no mass killings”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Yes Vandana. I found the stats shocking. Thank you so much for reading and writing back.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. robbiesinspiration Avatar

    This is a clever poem about a most disturbing topic, Smitha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Thank you so much Robbie. I hope others appreciate it like you have done. It’s disturbing and sad that something like this had to happen to stop mass killings in the most developed nations of the world.

      Liked by 1 person

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