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National Poetry Month, 4/9... and she jumps in! - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
National Poetry Month, 4/9... and she jumps in!
Hmm. Maybe I'll write a poem today instead of reccing one, as I seem to not be sleeping at any point soon (possibly because after I got up to feed the cat, I went back to sleep until almost one o'clock in the afternoon!) and already finished a Shifts segment. None of the strict forms is really jumping out at me (like the kyrielle did during February's RT challenge), so I'll just wing it in free verse, thus horrifying the people with whom I've agreed that half the art of poetry is form. It's in first person, but it's at best a rough conglomeration of vague things I sorta-kinda think I almost remember--in other words, much may well be pulled from the old nether-regions, except for the stuff that isn't. ;)

Elegy for the '70s

I don't remember Kent State.
It was the world just before me
But as far off as Washington-Lincoln-Roosevelt
Who was shot? Why?
I'm sure I learned it somewhere, but
it isn't at the top of my mind
like who shot J.R.
(It was Kristin!)

I remember Vietnam in stacked paper bags
bleeding bright polyester from their tears
in the candle-smelling social hall.
A doll reaches out to bid farewell
And I wonder if the new girl will know her name.
(It is Jenny; all of my dolls are Jenny.)
Mommy says she'll have a special new name
And learn to speak to a new language
When she's meant to be sleeping at night.

After Vietnam, we watch Sesame Street,
curled in beanbag chairs,
hands grasping granola bars and unsweetened Kool-Aid,
with a man who has fuzzy hair and a huge fuzzy dog,
and wears plaid pants that might ring if I listen to him walk.
He hasn't always been there, and won't be for long.
There is counting and reading and laughing
All brought to you by the letter "o."

I remember sailor suits and pig tails, and
hanks of thick yarn tied into bows--
they got sodden and fell apart in the rain--
and summer mornings in the vegetable garden.
Back to nature--give a hoot, don't pollute--
and fresh rhubarb pulled from the ground.
Winter mornings, waiting for the school bus,
tracing my name in frost,
and spring evenings, with the heavy scent of lilacs
drawing itself on my mind as the smell of home,
and making me sneeze.

There was a red bike, with a thumb-bell
and no training wheels--
why learn to walk with a crutch
if nothing's broken?--
and no helmet,
as no one had thought of that yet.
(Children weren't breakable then.)
There were roller skates with wheels on the corners,
and flat round rinks--
even school gyms--
playing records by Manilow and Rogers
and everyone skated, even the ones who were terrible.
There were dolls that ate
and pictures that lit up
and Play-Doh that grew like hair.

There was Star Wars and lightsaber duels at dusk
and Grease in the attic of the neighbor's garage,
and disco steps practiced in secret.
Lyrics patiently listened for, transcribed
and presented by my cousin in small block script:
Denver and Simon and Garfunkel and Diamond
and tin soldiers and suicide
to memorize and sing under my breath
while walking to school in Earth shoes.

I remember Nadia
on a five-inch rolling black-and-white screen
And star-spangled bell-bottoms
under the light of fireworks.
And long, stretching summers
A tent in the yard
And dandelions blown into the wind
And monkey's fists and godseyes and s'mores
And even Kum-ba-yas at sunset.
(Yes, we really did sing that song.)

And around us,
the lilac-scented world
and all we knew was our comfy, tangled skein of oversized yarn,
no good for re-knitting.

Who knew it would be cold again?


8 comments or Leave a comment
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: April 9th, 2006 02:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree with you on the appeal of form, but I really like this. Speaking of your poem for the R/T challenge, are you not doing that this month? I've been skimming the entries as they appear, and I miss your contributions.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 9th, 2006 02:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nah, one month a year of coming up with pairing-centered stuff every day is enough. I'm having a hard enough time keeping Shades moving!
matril From: matril Date: April 9th, 2006 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like it! I agree with the importance of form, but I think here the free verse actually works well for the nostalgic flow of memories.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 12th, 2006 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)
I tried to come up with a form, but it just insisted on being free verse! Oh, well. I'm glad it works.
lannamichaels From: lannamichaels Date: April 9th, 2006 06:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really like this. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 12th, 2006 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!
From: anatomiste Date: April 12th, 2006 02:12 am (UTC) (Link)
(reminded by your post today that I did intend to read this and comment!)

I like this poem. It is definitely of a piece with the rest of your writing: it's warm-hearted and down-to-earth. And it avoids the excesses often committed by inexperienced writers of free verse.

One's impressions of the world as one grew up are good material for poems, it seems. I can see myself attempting something like this someday, only about the nineties.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 12th, 2006 03:36 am (UTC) (Link)

I have no idea who it's attributed to nor do I remember where I read it, but I came across the idea that only very dull people only grow up once, and that the initial childhood is really just a prototype.
8 comments or Leave a comment