Poe(m)try

Standard

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

“The Reading” – Improptu Poem

Standard

“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

Standard

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)

Standard

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

Standard

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.

Poem Review: David R. Slavitt’s “Titanic”

Standard

Titanic

Who does not love the Titanic?

If they sold passage tomorrow for that same crossing,

who would not buy?

To go down…We all go down, mostly

alone. But with crowds of people, friends, servants,

well fed, with music, with lights!Ah!

And the world, shocked, mourns, as it ought to do

and almost never does. There will be the books and movies

to remind our grandchildren who we were

and how we died, and give them a good cry.

Not so bad, after all. The cold

water is anesthetic and very quick.

The cries on all sides must be a comfort.

We all go: only a few, first class.


Wining and Dying:  An Analysis of “Titanic”

Approximately twenty years ago, many people turned their attention toward the infamous Titanic disaster.  Hollywood created a film based on the event, and interest grew in the minds of children and adults.  About ten years prior to that, David R. Slavitt published his poem “Titanic” that suggests a less popular philosophical notion.  This poem, while reminding a general audience of a tragic event, posits that humans would be inclined to knowingly die on a ship such as the Titanic and meet a similar fate.  In short, his speaker declares, there does not seem to be a more exciting and rapid method of inevitable death.

“Who does not love the Titanic?” opens this poem.  The speaker begins casually, as if beginning a conversation over coffee.  Before the end of the opening stanza, a hypothetical situation is stated.  Should people be offered to board the ship bound for certain peril, our speaker believes only logical thinking individuals would take that opportunity.  Later, the speaker reminds us—rather directly and grisly—that “[w]e all go down, mostly/alone.”  Immediately afterward, though, he reminds us that the elegance of the ship cannot be duplicated anywhere else in the world.  This notion continues throughout the poem.  While a vast majority of people do not get to decide their own method of death, the speaker is suggesting a utopian demise.

To further his case, the speaker offers predictions of the aftermath of this hypothetical death.  While it seems obvious any given person would like to be remembered or honored upon their death, the speaker takes it a bit further.  He states that the world would be “shocked” and that “books and movies” would “remind our grandchildren who we were/and how we died, and give them a good cry.”  This brutally honest vision of a deceased observing those left behind, it seems fair to say, is something the speaker believes is universal.  What, he might be saying, is the point of living if no one will remember anything we did?

To finish the dismal view of death, the speaker reminds us that perishing in the cold waters of after a ship crashes into an iceberg.  If one must die, should not the rapidity be an appealing factor?  The line “The cries on all sides must be a comfort” might disturb a reader, but it does offer a vision that makes death a little easier to accept.  The final line, as it should, summarizes this speaker’s perspective.  “We all go” could not be more direct and obvious.  “[O]nly a few, first-class” is perhaps his advice to the reader.  Death is inevitable, so why not enjoy it?  It seems like the obvious choice.

Slavitt’s poem touches on the popularity of the Titanic and the unpopularity of death.  Poets have long evaluated this final moment of life and have, for centuries, suggested advice or commentary on our mortality.  Slavitt’s angle is refreshing and deceivingly persuasive.  No one who ever reads this poem or this analysis will escape death.  Thus, if given the opportunity, we would most likely like to die in an elegant manner and be remembered generations afterward.