National Poetry Writing Month 2021, Day 10: Survey

My Day 10 poem is my response to the prompt, which involves following the instructions to poet Hoa Nguyen’s ‘Junk Drawer Song’. I did follow all the steps, but chose to include all three of them in my finished poem. The song I chose as my focus for the first part is David Sylvian’s ‘Do You Know Me Now?

Step One

I put on the record
in my corner of the desert
and listened to the sound of my defeat
barren and haunted
a cauldron of silence
and swirling thoughts
not amounting to much
but a space for words to fester
resonate and some day heal

Could these bones and blood be mine
abandoned to desolation
dispensing altogether with tears?

For now, suspended in no place to turn
no words to say
no idea what might be next

Whatever it is
I’ll have to do it on my own
before the storms come again

Step Two

Some people have junk drawers
when I was growing up
we had two or three

And we called them ‘utility drawers’

That was a long time ago

These days, my entire house
is a junk drawer
a motley collection of unpacked boxes
piles on desktops
drawers of office supplies
nests of cables awaiting purpose
the occasional movie that was so important six weeks ago
a tumble of blankets where remotes go to hide
shelves full of paper sacks
whose days have come and gone
a painting, gold and white smudges, unfinished
pens I have to keep replacing
despite knowing exactly where they are
reminders of childhood
evidence they once lived

The rest of the space
is filled with things unseen—
the hopes, fears, aches, pains, and passing thoughts
I keep in reserve for the inarticulate artistic impression
or the rash confession, when the time comes

Step Three

I dug out the record again
to answer the call
for something familiar

I’m over my feelings of defeat
but the atmosphere is still palpable
bones and blood aching for, well, someone…

I scour the junk drawer from time to time
to look for evidence—
maybe a stray calendar page to tell me what day it is
or an envelope holding a message
I missed the first time

I have to remember to check my tendency
to overthink thinking over
to fill in the blanks where space is required

I didn’t think I knew myself before
I know slightly more now
Turns out this desolated corner
holds a few answers
once time is allowed to unroll


A storm was raging last night
drowning out the strings
and choking the stray breath

At midnight’s turn
I could not yet sleep
drawn in to cataloguing
the index of possibilities
that blemish my thoughts

I’m over my feelings of defeat
but the atmosphere is still palpable
bones and blood aching for, well, someone…

(10 April 2021)

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