“Jaundiced Outlook”–NaPoWriMo #2

Hi everyone! We’re having a lovely spring day over here, and my mom and I decided to visit the library. One of my favorite pastimes on spring days was when my mom would take my sister and me to the library as kids. We loved going up and down the aisles and picking out books (often by their covers, whoops), finding the comfiest chairs to sit in–and oh my gosh, the bookmarks! There were always fun new bookmarks to take, sometimes with a quote, sometimes with a cartoon, sometimes cut from wallpaper. The bookmarks were almost as exciting as the books themselves, and we quickly amassed great piles to stuff into our dressers (and the books, of course). We also loved participating in the library’s reading challenges, where you’d have to read a certain number of books off of a list of award-winners to get a small prize. I don’t even remember the prizes, but I do remember the books.

Another day, another poem! Today, I’m going to go for the prompt that NaPoWriMo has given us, mostly because it is just so weird that I can’t resist it. The prompt:

The books of Scottish science fiction writer Iain M. Banks often have spaceships in them. And those spaceships have extremely odd, poetic names. So your challenge for today is to write a poem with a title drawn from one of these spaceship names.

I have to say I’ve never run across a prompt like that before. One of the ship names in particular caught my eye: “Jaundiced Outlook.” Because I was born with jaundice, I knew that it meant “yellowed skin.” I read that it’s based on some kind of blood imbalance, but I’ve also heard that people with unusually colored skin are sometimes destined to do great things.

Elphaba "Defying Gravity" from my favorite musical, "Wicked"

Elphaba “Defying Gravity” from my favorite musical, “Wicked”

Anyway, my skin adjusted in a few weeks as it often does in newborn babies, so I’ll let Elphaba handle Oz on her own at the moment and stick to writing, myself. I decided to look up the word in my favorite dictionary (Merriam-Webster, an acquired love from grad school), because I knew the definition must be more complex than just a color.


 adjective \-dəst\

1: affected with or as if with jaundice
2: exhibiting or influenced by envy, distaste, or hostility <a jaundiced eye>

I was also attracted to this particular title because the concept is exactly opposite from the perspective I try to adhere to–but it is so easy to fall into a trap of negativity, isn’t it? Is it safer? Here’s my opinion, in blank verse–I did warn you about the iambic pentameter. 😉

“Jaundiced Outlook”
By: Amanda K. Fowler

Who could blame Alice, shutting the window
On a fine spring day? Only yesterday
It was not sunshine, but sharp, ragged hail,
That came through the frame, scraping and bruising
Poor Alice, and she just could not lower
The glass before the damage came to scar.

I find I cannot be judging the girl,
She is only guilty of protecting
Herself, of course, and whatever she feels
Alone on her cushion, gazing beyond
The panes at the cardinals frolicking,
The chrysanthemums dancing in the wind–
It is hers, wrapped in a knot to wither.

But then, I do wonder what she’s missing
Sitting safe and alone behind the glass.
The world continues to turn without her
And the window is yellowing with age.
Yes, Alice sits here and watches it all,
Seeing the world through her jaundiced outlook.


5 thoughts on ““Jaundiced Outlook”–NaPoWriMo #2

    • I just love her, don’t you? My sister and I were Glinda and Elphaba for Halloween a few years ago. 🙂
      I think her courage to stand up for what she believes in is so inspiring. I love how she shows us that it’s okay to be different and you don’t have to be popular to change things “for good.” 🙂


  1. Pingback: Sentimentality and Poems of Farewell | Jelly-Side Up

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