Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Poetry Stretch - It's Never Too Late!

Monday was a holiday for some folks, so I took fall break quite literally and completely unplugged for the weekend. It was wonderful, though I am a bit overwhelmed with e-mail at the moment.

I had a bad day yesterday. My sister had a bad day too. Today it's rainy and kind of yucky. My son was looking forward to his first tree-climbing class, but it looks as though it will be canceled. So, while last week we wrote about what makes us happy, today I'm thinking we should write about what makes us sad. Too depressing? I hope not. Sometimes the strangest things bring on melancholy and longing. 

Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.


  1. Some of you might have read this poem before, but I want to bring this one back:

    (for Linda)
    By Steven Withrow

    The day I failed my driver’s test
    for backing a tire over the curb,
    you sat in the back seat,
    silent, a light purse on your lap,

    behind the dour DMV man
    busily signing his report
    while my tousled teenage brain
    began to imagine a car-less future―

    not some magic kingdom of monorails
    or a zeppelin city from comic books,
    but me, alone, without a license,
    feeling the forever shame of sixteen.

    My mother, your sister, was home
    with my brother and a daycare baby.
    You’d offered to bring me,
    let me drive your car, a compact,

    patted my shoulder after it was done,
    and said don’t worry, there’s always
    next time
    , and you’d come along
    again, if I wanted, for the ride.

    I tried my best to explain it away
    as nerves, a lack of practice time,
    and you kept the radio on low
    as you drove us back to my house.

    Another day, twenty years on,
    I stand outside Uncle Charlie’s
    crocodile green convertible
    watching you napping on

    a neck-pillow, passenger’s side.
    It’s my daughter’s birthday―
    she’s three―and you won’t know me
    when you open your eyes.

    Remind me again how this goes:
    your careless hope, your
    kind and reassuring calm
    no grinding failure can abrade.

    Copyright 2011 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

  2. Lovely, Steven. I really enjoyed this.

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  4. Great Post!

  5. Sycamore Tree

    we shimmied branches,
    straddled limbs,
    bouncing, bouncing
    you and me,
    high in the ribs
    of the sycamore tree.
    we outflanked pirates,
    sailed the seas—
    sinewy, tall,
    strong and free,
    soft is the bark
    of the sycamore tree.
    we manned the tiller,
    swung the jib,
    carved our names
    in the mottled tree,
    flung our cares
    to the sycamore sea.
    but ebb tides, flood tides,
    whirlpools, time,
    saw catfish floating,
    catfish dead,
    catfish buried
    in the riverbed:
    gone are the branches,
    gone is the tree,
    gone is the berth
    where the heart should be.

    @ 2011 jgKrantz

  6. Julie, I love the strong rhythm of this and its spiraling, songlike quality.

  7. High School

    I remember myself at 14.
    It was 6:00 a.m., no one else
    was awake. I stood
    in the small bathroom staring
    at the mirror like a lost soul.
    My forehead wouldn't stop
    frowning, but I carved my mouth
    into a smile. Made myself
    leave the house, throwing
    myself off the cliff to fall
    on the rocks of the day
    that waited below.

    Poor kid.
    It would only be four more years
    till happiness wrapped its arms
    around me and said, "You're okay.
    I've got you now." And 14 more
    till I believed.

    --Kate Coombs, 2011, all rights reserved

  8. I love how this is one sustained statement, Kate, until you hit that crashing pause, to be buoyed up again by "Poor kid." Wonderful!

  9. Thanks, Steven!

    I like the aunt in the backseat and the aunt in the backseat again; very poignant as well as a nice framing device.

    Julie, great rhythm and great tree. I LOVE trees!

  10. Ursula

    I see a friend’s child for the first time,
    now two years old,
    who was never meant to live, and does.
    She gallops across the convention floor,
    exploring wall panels, table legs,
    the fascinating up-and-down of an escalator.
    Burbling around her trach tube,
    she signs words for happy, more, want.
    I turn away, eyes tearing,
    afraid to frighten her with my relief.
    But as she runs past, I whisper:
    Happy. More. Want.

    ©2011 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

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  12. What a poem, Jane! So many emotions, and so much experience, so compactly packed, then released in those last three words!

  13. Kate--I love the metaphor, "throwing
    myself off the cliff to fall
    on the rocks of the day
    that waited below." How sadly appropriate! So, too, the repercussions:
    " And 14 more
    till I believed." Nicely done.

    Jane--Love your poem, Jane, especially the words the little girl signs: "happy. more. want." Says it all in 3 words!

    I also like how the speaker's contradictory feelings of "eyes tearing... with my relief" echo this same motif... happiness in spite of pain, as does her final whisper: "happy. more. want." Wonderful.

  14. Big smile. Thanks for the compliments.



    Tater Tot Tuesday
    was my favorite school lunch
    smother them in ketchup
    crunch, crunch, crunch.

    Since it was discontinued
    I've been in a funk
    Now they serve carrot sticks
    Who wants to eat that junk?

    (c) Charles Waters 2011 all rights reserved.