Poe(m)try

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Here.  Read this.

Read the part below.

The poem.

I’m reading–actually skimming–through student poetry submissions

It’s an expected lot hyphen hyphen (dash)

Some are printed requests for Healing to Begin;

Others include lines about how

quote funny unquote quote life unquote

can be

A handful of energetic pieces st-

re-

tch imagination

(s) dot dot dot

So far just 1 has grabbed me

1 just slapped me upside my head.

The poet wrote

about how consumed we are

with ourselves

and how little w-

e

talk

and

share

and

love

and

be

in this oneandonlyworld

You see

there were 4 stanzas

And Line 2 of Stanza 1

Became Line 1 of Stanza 2

and so forth

while keeping the fl-

ow

and never losi-

ng or dis-

connecting

And I think it’s the strongest so far because that’s what poetry should do,

friends.

It should turn our chin toward the sun

And our eyes away from the coals

It can warrant warmth

And suffocate sadness

And it can be structured

or

not

Because poetic license allows you

to walk down the escalators sometimes

even if they’re pushing you

before you’re ready

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“The Reading” – Improptu Poem

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“It’s like we’re on

a train,” someone says.

There is four feet

of thin worn carpet

in the northernmost aisle

of this narrow bookstore

Where the local poet,

A published, prolific professor,

Prepares a Power Point

presentation prior to performing.

~Those P’s wrote themselves~

In this single aisle,

A woman has collected

seven seats, six stools

to serve as satisfactory

sitting options squarely secured

~Those S’s were stretches~

for the incoming anonymous

manifest of friends, colleagues

who conduct themselves like

strangers or companions on

a metropolitan commute or

lengthy return to relatives

whom they see less

and less each year.

We’re trained from youth

to be still, civil,

engineered from our childhood

to be polite. Always.

As the bookshop’s car

fills with late arrivals,

We shed our layers

and peel away ourselves

To become more comfortable.

And those who arrive

before the poet’s departure

from real life realize

that they are suddenly

seatless. They’ll see less

with coats draped over

their arms like towels

or plain white bedsheets

that danced in backyards

of our grandparents’ youth.

November Fifth and It’s So Far Away

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Brittle leaves dance

Through Everytown and scatter

Little League infields

Where ghosts and memories steal signs and bases.

Gray takes over at First;

Charging Second, the first flakes drown mounds,

Rounding Third, the deepest snow

And lowest degrees,

And during all these months ahead,

Home is where we tend to be.

Highlights reel inside me–inside us–

That 2-2 count,

An insurance run in the ninth,

The unmatched tension of extra innings on the road.

The

fan-favorite

make-up

day-night

double-dip.

We strain to recall single games, plays, scores,

But it all seems to be a rushed mirage now,

A complex continuum

Where the wisest men around

are outfitted like the outfielders.

Each player, each team,

And each fan

From box seat to bleacher bum

Wringing hands for October rings.

Rookies–babies to some–

Will breathe

Big League Chew in their most dormant moments.

Our noses fill with the scents of old cigars and fresh popcorn.

The game hibernates

And the players and specatators–

All of us Brothers, Mothers, Fathers, Sisters–

Invoke the patience of a September call-up

And trust that their eyes will find the lush green,

The damp brown, and the crisp white lines

That must hoist us through this chilly half of the year.

 

The House on the Highway (updated Nov. 2018)

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transport1

Rain again.

The boy is sleepy

But becomes alert when reminded

Of school.

He’s dressed in minutes

His cowlick springs up

Over dry cereal at

An empty kitchen table

 

I cover a stained shirt

With a sweater

That fits tighter than last month.

We say goodbye

To a sleepy mama.

The missus

Misses coffee

But rubs

Her pregnant belly

And winces and ooohs.

 

She oozes exhaustion

Mumbles words of plans for plants.

 

Will the missus miss us?

Now we’re a mile away from her

When the first red light

Stifles our progress

Toward timelessness.

I hate

Being late.

The rain hardens, stiffens,

Strengthens.

The sky sends pellets,

Mini-bombs onto my windshield.

 

Green light.  No movement.

The head of the driver

In front of me

Is visible

In his side

mirror.

His phone’s more important.

I honk and say

Something

He can’t hear.

Something

The missus wishes

I wouldn’t say

when the boy is around.

Or ever.

 

Seconds pass. The guy looks

Up and eases forward.

Waveless and unapologetic.

Another point-eight miles of green lights,

Momentum rises,

Blades wipe away wetness.

The next stop is our turn.

The left-arrowed lane fills behind me

As the rest of the east- and west-bounders

Pound down the splashy path.

 

A long, loud transporter

Booms by on our right,

Bearing one-half of a modular home.

“Look at that house,” I say.

The boy, of course, looks

For a stable structure

On land

And sees.

“Whoa!”

Each letter filled with wonder.

“Is there people in there, Daddy?”

“Not likely,” I say.  

But I fixate on its

Its future inhabitants.

Where are they at this moment?

Waiting at the lot?

A few cars behind me?

Boxing up picture frames

And kitchen utensils

In another area code?

Did they pick that color?

Is this their forever home?

<<EEEEEP!!!>>

Will this rain ever quit?

<<BLAAMMM—BLAAMMMM!!!!!!!>>

 

The half-house punctured the flow.

The fractioned structured caused

Distraction.

I prevented traction.

I delayed the day.

The missus misses us.

We miss her.  

Work should wait some days.

 

Moving along, the boy bites

Into the lull.

“Daddy?”

“Yes?”

“I’m glad you’re taking me to school today.”

 

My son really says this,

Just like that.

 

I lower my window,

Brave the rain,

And stick out a sleeve

To wave my apology

To the cars behind me.

 

PTSD poem

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Somewhere right now, some dude, former troop, stands alone and faces trial

He served for us, put it all out there, then he snapped and went a little wild

The assistant clerk there says he knew’em and ‘membered him from the times before

From the days he bought licorice, soda, and cigs as a kid in that same store

Then shortly after he come back he showed signs of losin’ it

He quit job after job and screamed in the night and went into a boozin’ fit

His mom couldn’t help, his dad was long gone, his wife just couldn’t get through

The guys from the squad called less and less and he sure ain’t goin’ back to school.

When he entered the store, he was armed unbeknownst to everyone in his world;

He heard a car backfire, then sometime shook him, and his mind just swirled and swirled.

The man yelled at the clerk and demanded some truth.  Not money, just damn info!

The clerk raised his palms, started sweating, and made a move toward the rifle below

But not faster than this infantryman who shot shot shot then dropped the sidearm down,

Now he’s gonna face time when his goal was to protect the precious people of his hometown.

Final Creative Writing Class Portfolio – Two Poems

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Here are two poems I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks.  They have been revised three times, but I’m not ready to say they are in their final form.  As always, I welcome feedback from all of you!

“Dormant in the Corner”

Ironically,

I am constantly

Immobile, which

Defeats my man-

Ufactured purpose

To provide a place

For my owners to

Walk, jog, or run.  I

Don’t think they made

Me to serve as more

Closet space, even

Though I hold empty

Plastic clothes hangers

And am adorned with

Monday’s boxer shorts

All week long.  I should

Be running at 5.0 on a

Moderate incline and not

Gather dust and serve as

A hiding place for the small

Boy they only yell at when

He comes close to me.

I remember when these

Two opened my box and

Marveled at my features:

A book rack, two cup

Holders, and a digital

Readout that accurately

Measures their health.  I’m

Supposed to be helping

Them lose weight, gain

Strength, and lengthen

Their lives.  Due to

Inactivity on both

Of our parts,

Their bones

Deteriorate

And my
Resale

Value

Goes.

When they

Are both awake

In bed on the other

Side of this room, I

Hear them, once

In a while, discuss

Parting with me

and admitting

They don’t

Use me.

I have,

they

say,

be

co

me

an

ey

es

or

e.

He always says he’s starting Monday.

She laughs and knows he won’t.

At least she has the dignity

Not to lie as she balls

Up her candy wrap

pers and complains

again about her

lower back

hurting

in the

same

spot

as

l

a

s

t

t

i

m

e


“Patience”

It’s four minutes after two in the morning

And raining like crazy out there

Beyond the automatic doors

That swoosh when people enter or exit

Or sometimes for no discernable reason.

I’m sitting beside a woman who wears

A winter coat, but it’s April.  I sense

That she’s not nearly as cold as I am

And perhaps has been here before.

Her steady, plain face is remarkably relaxed

While the rest of us toe-tap our nerves

into flat grooves in the thin carpet.

I’ve never been a nail-biter, but

It’s tempting.  On the suspended television

In one corner, a popular syndicated emergency

Room show illuminates an otherwise dreary

Real E.R. and I wonder why no one wants to turn the channel.
It occurs to me that the show was always twenty percent

Medical expertise and eighty percent Hope.  Neither the woman

Beside me nor anyone else here is watching.  But we all

Probably could use hope.  Faith.  Something to keep us

Here and not just give up.

My wife has been back there

For nineteen minutes and I’ve thought dreadful things

About our future son who may not survive.  I clench my

Hands in frustration and prayer.  They can’t make

Me sit here like this much longer.

The episode ends

The credits roll

The woman in the faded burgundy coat

Is asleep and clutching a picture

Of a small smiling child.

I stare at it for far too long.

So long in fact that I didn’t

Hear them call my name

And wheel out my family.

Creative Writing Class – Week Five (Three Poems)

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This week, we were instructed to piece together three separate types of poems.  I’ve paraphrased the actual instructions below:

1.  30 or so lines in the POV of someone who has done something wrong

2.  40 or so lines from a non-human POV

3.  14 lines of 10 syllables each where someone is observed.

Here they are…

Poem 1

“Isolated Calories”

They never ask me what I want

And perhaps that’s why I do it–

Take it right from them when they think

I’m watching TV or even outside.

 

The boy next door always has Fig Newtons or Oreos

But I’m never allowed to even ask

If I can eat have some.

“It’s rude to ask, son,” my parents tell me.

“And if they offer, you tell them ‘No, thank you.’”

 

My sister says I’m just

Bored.  “Twelve-year-olds shouldn’t be

Bored,”  she says.  She rolls her eyes a lot

But doesn’t think about calling me her

“Chubby Bubby”

Every day.  I’ve seen her.

She eats ice cream in her room

And while on her bed.

She never gets in trouble.

Says it’s okay because she bought it with her money.

But she says she’ll hate me like everyone else

If I tell Mom or Dad she does it.

 

Mom’s purse today has just twenty-six

Dollars.  Just three flat bills stare

Back at me.  What will she do

This time, I wonder.  I shrug.

I leave the twenty and tell no one in particular

That I’m going down to Ronnie’s.

 

They think I have a friend named Ronnie.

But I plan to just sit there on the cold metal bench

And eat my cheeseburgers

And cookies alone

With no one in particular.

 

Poem 2*

“Dormant in the Corner”

 

Ironically,

I am constantly

Immobile, defeating

My manufactured purpose

To provide a place for my

Owner(s) to walk, jog, or run.

I don’t think they made me

To hold empty wire hangers

And boxer shorts worn

A week ago.  I remember

When they opened my box

And marveled at my features:

A book rack, two cup holders, and

A digital readout that accurately measures

Their health.  I’m supposed to be helping

Them all.  Well, maybe not the child,

But the larger two who talk

About me as if I’m not

In the room and make

Promises to visit that

Never seem to happen.

The little one hides

Behind me sometimes

And I have to think he does it

To draw attention to me

Since he knows I cannot.

Their bones and muscles

Deteriorate while

Soft dust rests

On my cold

Arms and

Feet.

 

When they’re awake in bed

On the other side of this

Room, I hear them,

Once in a while,

Discuss parting

With me and

Admitting

They

Don’t

Use

Me.

 

He always says he’s starting Monday

She laughs and knows he won’t.

At least she has the dignity

Not to lie as she balls

Up her candy wrappers

And complains again

About her

Back.

 

Poem 3

“Patience”

 

It’s possible that the woman beside

Me in this emergency room tonight

Has been here before, perhaps years ago,

For her own children.  She is calm and dressed

In layers as if she knew the winter

Would whoosh in through the automatic doors.

The chaos ‘round us is distant and she

Only looks up occasionally at

The television, where a popular

Syndicated emergency room show

Shows how easy it is for people who

Believe they will recover will do just

That. However, I only think of my

Wife and how I may not become a dad.


*I tried to have the lines from the treadmill look like the incline readout (at a 90-degree angle).  Too subtle?