This year I decided to participate in the October Inktober challenge, but in a slightly different way.
Inktober is an annual ink drawing challenge by Jake Parker, who created it to develop positive habits and help inspire others to get better at drawing. There’s a prompt for every day in October and you are supposed to draw something inspired by it and keep at it. When I was living in Sweden, I actually drew something every day in October 2018 and you can find those drawings here. In 2020, however, I decided that I would use Inktober prompts to write – poems, stories, short musings, thoughts… Anything really, as long as I actually completed 31 short writings by the end of October for my poetry Inktober. I did it, and here they are!
Obviously not all of them are good or even of passable quality, but I decided to publish them anyway. It’s hard to be inspired every day and produce something you like, which is exactly the point of this challenge – practice makes perfect. It’s also good to get over your fears and ego and share something not perfect with others (or you can always just keep it to yourself).
I learned quite a lot about my brain and chasing inspiration, so I think this poetry Inktober attempt was useful, although I feel a bit creatively drained at this point. I’m surprised to say I actually like some of these and I’ve highlighted them in grey, so feel free to read any or all of them. 🙂
Teach me to fish and I’ll give you the world.
Catch me a fish and I’ll conjure you rain.
Murder the fish and we’ll have solid ground.
Roast me the fish and I’ll let you feel fire.
Swallow the fish and I’ll choke you with air.
Find me a fish, but don’t ask me to care,
for a fish eater’s soul is scaly and bare.
Light as a feather, thin as a wisp. A single thought gently lands on my mind. “It’s going to be okay”, it says. The wisp grows thicker, brighter, overwhelming like a star. “IT’S GOING TO BE OKAY”, it says. And it always is.
Bulky, clunky, chunky and fat.
A winter coat, a slamming door, relationships and regret.
We shouldn’t buy our feelings in bulk, no matter how sustainable it is.
“She’s as happy as a radio” – a popular Slovenian expression, so harmless and light. She’s full of smiles and dark days, contradictions, joy, ambition, ideas, frustration and decay.
Every morning she turns on the radio, an invisible friend with a smooth voice and too many helping hands. The wavelengths are saturated with news, ads, emergencies, corruption, criminals, birthday notes, music and advice from callers who just want to hear their voice.
There’s something about the radio, a symbol of a bygone era and a type of media that doesn’t rape our minds with bright images and preconceptions of what the world is supposed to look like. Happy as a radio – yes, I imagine she is.
A blade laid lost in winter soil,
too small to see, too cold to care.
Moonlight reflected off the blade,
too faint to see, too far to care.
The edge was sharpened to draw blood,
too sharp to see, too honed to care.
Faeries danced upon the edge,
too fast to see, too smart to care.
There once was a rodent called Rodney McRod,
he rode a Harley and liked a smoked cod.
He’d hum and sing through his buck teeth,
and keep a cod bone in a sheath.
There came a day he had a date,
he drove too fast on the interstate
…. and then was a rodent called Rodney McLate.
Can you tell I was fairly uninspired here?
Pearls, tears, morning light.
Reflections on beauty past.
So fancy, so old.
An attempt at a haiku.
Silver weather, ice cold winter’s bite.
A freezing meadow, an old woman’s last rite.
Two sons stood there, their souls grief scarred.
A grave they dug, the frozen soil stiff and hard.
Winter’s teeth bit deep and dire,
but loss burned brighter than fire.
Throw me a rope, will ya?
Help me out of this abyss, this hole of ruined plans and no finesse.
Throw me a break, will ya?
Just a small one, with some cake, dancing, smiles and no stress.
Throw me some soap, will ya?
Let me wash off dust and grime, because truly, we’re a mess.
Seems like I’m asking all in vain — if there’s a God, he’s got bad aim.
I wake up, get up, get dressed, hoping for more time.
You are still in bed, chasing after moments of freedom.
Life is passing us by, bit by bit.
We sit on the bus, staring out the window and wishing for a better world.
Hoping, wishing, wanting, craving – every day.
The hope takes shape, bit by bit.
The new world is already here, but it’s not right.
It’s not what we wanted, it’s not what we need.
We’d built it, bit by bit.
The hope grows, our eyes shining with zeal.
The world is ready, let’s tear it down.
We can rebuild, bit by bit.
The hope is real, it lies heavy in our chest.
We feel it, we breathe it in until it hurts.
We dreamt it up, bit by bit.
Let’s force it out.
Let’s use it.
Bit by bit.
A sloppy kiss between lovers,
a public moment freely shared.
“Disgusting”, said the kids from the park.
“Disgusting”, said the old neighbour walking by.
“Disgusting”, said the cat and licked his butt.
It’s a slippery slope, you say.
Trust, passion, love and compassion.
Time can erode all of it, if we don’t pay attention.
Slipping away a word at a time, a missing touch here and there.
Are you coming to bed? Not now, I’m busy.
Kiss me now, and stick us back together.
No more slipping, not this way.
The sands of time: immense, immeasurable and constantly shifting.
The grains of individuality: loose, invisible and ultimately, meaningless.
The grains drift.
Sometimes a dune is formed: a temporary refuge, a pocket of structured time.
The world makes sense.
One ripple, a gust of fate, and everything is changed – but the grains go on.
The sands don’t care.
Were the grains ever really there?
A chink in your armor,
a ray of light shining through.
A thought, a glance, a friendly smile.
Let the world in, I say. It heals.
I felt really uninspired by this one. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t think of anything. An outpost. An empire’s hold on the land. A solitary island. A hut in the woods. An army base. A stretch of the coast. An outpost?
3… 2… 1… We have lift off!
The humans have made it to the Moon, to Mars and beyond.
Infiltrated atomic worlds, harvested nature’s power, turned cells inside out.
To boldly go where no one has gone before.
And yet we still haven’t learned kindness. Must be advanced science indeed.
All the eyes of the storm,
blind and furious,
searching for the one that’s calm.
“It’s a trap!”
Famous last words. Snap!
Action, violence and life scrap.
But some traps are subtler,
clever and harder to see.
Could one of such traps be me?
Busy day, frizzy hair, dizzy head.
Early morning, rush hour, I’m late.
But here! A cup of coffee.
Coral, floral, solar.
The colour of lipstick, a blouse and a star.
Marine life, a meadow and an energy source.
A single word can wear many meanings,
so shouldn’t a rhyme cloak it in feelings?
Behind your eyelids,
there is only darkness.
This one killed me as well. No inspiration whatsoever, so:
He’s the greatest chef of all,
he has eggs and bacon in his thrall,
so come and eat your breakfast roll!
Whoever invented nylon tights should be hanged.
Uncomfortable, itchy, smooth torture devices,
encasing my leg like a sausage.
Sweaty feet. Expensive plastics.
My skin can’t breathe,
my stomach boils over the waist.
A rip! And I’m no longer presentable.
Just a rip and I’m free.
Dig, dig, dig through to the other side of the world!
Dig through your nose right into your brain.
Dig deep in your soul and see what you’ll find.
A friend, slapping my shoulder for courage.
A grandma, petting my knee like a child’s.
A hug, a kiss, a pat on the back.
Smiling people, shaking my hand upon meeting.
Harmless touches, welcome or allowed.
You’re not my buddy, my friend or my lad,
so keep your goddamn hands off my butt.
Today I’d like to hide in my bathtub. I’d like to wrap my space in the shower curtain, draw water boundaries and saturate my breaths with rosemary scent. I’d like to find peace in the bubbles, each one an another world, full of potential. I’d like to hide my imperfections in the water, unstring the bow of my mind and drain the tension away when I pull the plug.
“That will be 2.99 for the bath bomb, please.”
“…and I say thank you for the music” Nope, that’s an ABBA song. Hm… Is there a word that rhymes with music?
For me, music and written word operate on an entirely different plane. Try as I might, writing something that would make even passable sense around the word music was a no go. I would’ve had an easier time drawing something inspired by music, but I decided against it. Music should be heard and felt, not confined to words and images.
What’s that? A goat, floating on a boat?
Is it an argument of note?
She’s kept afloat by luck and grit,
with nary a determined bleat.
She gets my vote.
Whatever floats your goat man.
I can’t argue you with you about dinner anymore.
What’s a new pair of shoes to a man who sings the blues?
He’s been up, he’s been down, he’s got nothing left to lose.
His soul is scarred, his face a frown, the whole world let him down.
His evenings pass with bass and booze, he only answers to his muse.
An ominous silence.
A horror movie?
A lull in the music?
A villain prowling about?
No, the children are quiet.
The calm before the crash.
Obviously this one had to be a bit spooky and Halloween-y.
Come to me, oh spirits of the earth and sea.
Gather round and tell me a tale.
Show me your sorrows, your past and your strife,
share your power on this holy night.
Creeping they came, crawling in the dark.
They swished and swayed, unwanted they stayed.
The girl who asked and begged for a tale,
now forever is caught in the ghostly gale.
Their power is hers, her will is theirs.
Her candle will burn in the window no more.
Have you ever participated in Inktober in any way? You can find all of these poetry Inktober creations in my Medium poetry publication here as well. This year my friend Matt and I also collected all sorts of Inktober creative works from people and exhibited them in a free publication here, so come see what they created!