November Fifth and It’s So Far Away (Revised 2017)

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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.

 

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The House on the Highway (2017 early draft)

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transport1

Rain again.

Pre-school day.

The boy is sleepy

But becomes alert when reminded

Of school.

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.

She Misses

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

Our progress

Toward timelessness.

I hate being late.

Rain hardens, stiffens,

Strengthens.

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.

Or ever.

Seconds pass.  The guy looks

Up and eases forward.

Waveless.

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?

<<EEEEEP!!!>>

Will this rain ever quit?

<<BLAAMMM—BLAAMMMM!!!!!!!>>

The impulse to turn around has never been stronger.

The missus misses us.

We miss her.  Work should wait some days.

Daddy?

Yes?

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impromptu Poem (4/25/2017)

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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 the healing to begin;

Others are verse about how quote funny unquote quote life unquote can be;

A handful of energetic pieces that 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

 

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.

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

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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.

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?