If birth = midnight
And death = 11:59 pm
What time is it right now?
Why was that your answer?
If birth = midnight
And death = 11:59 pm
What time is it right now?
Why was that your answer?
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.
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–
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 boy is sleepy
But becomes alert when reminded
He’s dressed in minutes
His cowlick sprayed out
My shirt is stained
But I cover it with a sweater
That wasn’t tight last month.
Coffee. The boy
Asks for a leftover doughnut.
We say goodbye
To a sleepy mama.
Coffee but rubs
Her pregnant belly and Ooohs—
She mumbles something about having a lot to do.
Will the missus miss us?
We’re a mile away from her
And home when
The first red light stifles
I hate being late.
Rain hardens, stiffens,
The sky sends pellets
And creates tension inside me
While each droplet is just doing its job.
Green light. No movement.
The head of the driver in front of me is visible
In the side mirror. He’s
Clearly looking at his phone.
I honk and say something
The missus wishes
I wouldn’t say when the boy is around.
Seconds pass. The guy looks
Up and eases forward.
My tension heightens.
No recognition of fault.
No request for my forgiveness.
Another point-eight miles of green lights.
The next stop is
my our turn.
The left-turning 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 the right,
Bearing a modular home.
Look at that house, I say.
He of course looks for a stable structure
Off the road
Whoa, he says, in wonderment.
Is there people in there, daddy?
Not likely, I say. But I can’t stop thinking about
Its future inhabitants.
Where are they at this moment?
Waiting at the lot?
A few cars behind?
Boxing up picture frames
And kitchen utensils in another area code?
Did they pick the color?
Is this their forever home?
Will this rain ever quit?
The impulse to turn around has never been stronger.
The missus misses us.
We miss her. Work should wait some days.
I’m glad you’re taking me to school today.
My son really says this just like that.
I stick a sleeve out my window
To wave my apologies to the cars behind me.
Here. Read this.
Read the part below.
I’m reading–actually skimming–through student poetry submissions
It’s an expected lot hyphen hyphen (dash)
Some are printed requests for the healing to begin;
Others are verse about how quote funny unquote quote life unquote can be;
A handful of energetic pieces that st-
(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-
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-
and never losi-
ng or dis-
And I think it’s the strongest so far because that’s what poetry should do,
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
Because poetic license allows you
to walk down the escalators sometimes
even if they’re pushing you
before you’re ready
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.
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.
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”
I am constantly
Defeats my man-
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,
Are both awake
In bed on the other
Side of this room, I
Hear them, once
In a while, discuss
Parting with 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 wrap
pers and complains
again about her
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.