GloPoWriMo/NaPoWriMo Day 30: How Short Is Time?

Today’s prompt challenges to write a palinode – a poem in which you retract a view or sentiment expressed in an earlier poem. For example, you might pick a poem you drafted earlier in the month and write a poem that contradicts or troubles it. This could be an interesting way to start working on a series of related poems. Alternatively, you could play around with the idea of a palinode by writing a poem in which the speaker says something like “I take it back” or otherwise abandons a prior position within the single poem.

11th year done, and I am grateful to Maureen and this community of poets who push me to become better at poetry. Thank you for sharing your verses and reading me. Here is the final piece for this gig, written in the car while drowsed by a full dose of motion sickness pill.

To my readers, if you are here to enjoy poetry from this event, I will have already moved the poems from public view to undergo redrafting before finding a home for them. However, besides the currently featured poems, here is a list of my previous Na/GloPoWriMo featured poems: Table of Farewells (2022), The Return of the Rose (2020), Allegory of Dancing (2019), Spring Wedding (2017) and Berry-Ho, Merry-Ho (2014). And adding two more poems from Na/GloPoWriMo to your reading list: The Cabbage in Your Heart and The Wilderness of Our Old Life.

Day is done, and night is here
dressed in the sunset robe;
and no scientist can confirm
all living things are accounted for.
Tell me, how short is time?

Winter went, and spring entered
for the annual grand opening;
and no cures for the common cold
or allergies are currently known.
Tell me, how short is time?

Clouds gather and scatter,
rain come and paint a rainbow;
and no human has inhabited
the warming cores of the sun.
Tell me, how short is time?

Rivers dry and swell up,
the ocean sinks and rises,
and humans haven’t grown gills,
or evolve to breathe in water.
Tell me, how short is time?

Hate bends, and love amends
enemies tear, and allies win;
but Goliath did not enlist
and the Davids are still dying.
Tell me, how short is time?
Death avenges and life changes
the cycle of life takes and gives,
and no perished body returned
to clarify where it has been.
Tell me, how short is time?

Messengers arrive and depart,
the prophets descend and ascend;
and I, as a believer, am still waiting
for the return of the son of God.
Tell me, how short is time?

Here on Earth, we stand and fall,
we fail hard and learn hard;
and no one can claim intelligence
of how to deal with love or death.
Tell me, how short is time?

Mind weaves, and the heart receives;
the genius lives in the sheets of paper
and yet no one can confirm
there will never be bad books written.
Tell me, how short is time?

Words imprison and liberate
the verses impeach and free;
but no one knows when
the prisons will cease to exist.
Tell me, how short is time?

Books are shields and swords,
our pens murder and birth;
and no writer is known for publishing
a book with blank pages only.
Tell me, how short is time?

Dickinson and Robert* died,
but poetry did not flee or die;
and we are still reading and
quoting the dead as classical.
Tell me, how short is time?

Tempus breve est. The time is short.
Hereby I retract the use of these lines,
and as long as you and I still wait,
long is the time until we wait no more.

* Shaaban bin Robert, also known as Shaaban Robert, was a Tanzanian poet, author, and essayist who supported the preservation of Tanzanian verse traditions. Bin Robert can be compared to Goethe in German and Shakespeare in English literature. He has been called both the “poet laureate of Kiswahili,” “Father of Kiswahili Language,” and “Father of Kiswahili Literature.” Most of Robert’s writing is in Kiswahili. He did translate at least one of his poems into English, “Our Frame,” with the assistance of the African literature scholar Gerald Moore. You can read more about him on Wikipedia and this link.

Copyright © 2023, Gloria D. Gonsalves. All rights reserved.

Recent Comments

  • Romana
    April 30, 2023 - 2:45 pm · Reply

    So wonderful to hear about Shaaban Robert, dear Gloria. It’s true, no matter how short our time here, poetry will continue to thrive. What an amazing month this has been! Grateful for your company on the poetry trails, dear poet. Happy writing and I’ll see you again next year!

    • Gloria
      April 30, 2023 - 8:56 pm · Reply

      Dear Romana, the magic weaver of words. Every year I am in awe of you, and thank you for not holding back your best for our growth. Until next year, please give a pat and my thanks to Willow too.

  • Arti
    April 30, 2023 - 3:44 pm · Reply

    So much to be impressed by today. The fact that this is your 11th NaPoWriMo! The fact that you wrote today’s piece under the influence of a motion sickness pill! Wow!
    This line shines for me ‘Hate bends and love amends’.
    I wish you safe travels and hope to meet again next year. Thank you for your kindness this April Gloria. Your comments meant a lot.

  • Ken Gierke / rivrvlogr
    April 30, 2023 - 10:11 pm · Reply

    Retract these lines if you like, but they are still my favorites:
    “Death avenges and life changes
    cycle of life takes and gives,
    and no perished body returned
    to clarify where it has been.
    Tell me, how short is time?”

  • Chandni Girija
    May 1, 2023 - 6:06 am · Reply

    If there is one group on whose shoulders the burden of wisdom is put upon, it is the poets. And they do it not with awareness of this burden but because of how they are, in several ways which is a burden itself. “Empathy is the highest intelligence” – the Dalai Lama (I hope you aren’t a part of the current wave of prejudice against him). “In the very end, civilizations perish because they listen to their politicians and not to their poets.” – Jonas Mekas. There are some minor typos here, Gloria; clear them when you are fresher. This poem is another one of your strong ones and can definitely go into your next published collection. I wish you a lot of strength. Love, Chandni

    • Gloria
      May 1, 2023 - 7:45 am · Reply

      Thank you, dear Chandni. I am grateful for your constructive suggestions and the reminder of the poets responsibility, whether we want it or not. I see the glaring typos after the drowsiness and car sickness has worn off. It was hard to keep up when writing and posting using a phone while in motion. Bless you, and I look forward to read you again in the 2024 gig.

    • Gloria
      May 23, 2023 - 9:01 am · Reply

      Beloved Manja. Forgive me for the late reaction on my blog and your comments. I am working on my next poetry book and I was to submit materials since April. I will carve out time to enjoy the centos and feedback accordingly. Before I read them, thank you for the poetry mementos.

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