Friday, April 10, 2009

White Rabbit

Or is it the March Hare who's late?

I wrote two poems today: one for the Writer's Digest prompt ("memory") and one bonus one. I sat down to revise and post them at about 11:40, whereupon I decided that the "memory" poem sucked. So I just wrote another one, totally from scratch. And it might be no better...but I'm tired of excuses.


Sitting under the tulip tree on the school lawn
and talking about Ephesians
you pushed your hair behind one virgin ear
with a stub-nailed finger. The fencing trophies
stayed in your room; your mother wanted
a beauty queen,

going so far as to commission a painting
of the child you never were. Her phantom toddler
bears a golden wimple of hair, a blue dress
above plump knees.

Seventeen years later, as the father foe fell,
mother became the enemy. She fought
your evil love, letter by letter, as you won
match after match against masks. You lay
with a woman who loved you bare.
You resurrected the spirit beneath Paul’s letters,
if not hers.

You always saw me whole, found me steady.
But you contained multitudes you couldn’t see
from that grassy hillside in
your seventeenth year.

This is the other poem I wrote, late in the day. This morning, I heard a poem by Kenneth Hart on the Writer's Almanac on NPR. I was quite taken with his work. So I found another of his poems--"Nat & Forrest"--and did a "write-between-the-lines" exercise with it. The lines I generated led to this poem.

Day Roofers

As high as it is on this
hot, bright God’s-eye perch,
surrounded by heaps of
cracker-dry shingle
and lumber long as a Monday,
we have to hurry
for fear of rain.

We are saving the house,
preserving the family
with galvanized nails
and black tar,
keeping them dry in their beds.
When we are done
the night comes quick:

it drew the dark up to their chins
like an heirloom quilt
studded with stars
that won’t bother them
because our work is solid.

On the ground, weary,
we are not heroes, but men
who sleep in borrowed beds
in the Fellowship Hall,
eat the day-old bread
and watered soup of the white men
who borrowed this land,
built on it,
nailed the roof shut and dry.

I'm really not happy with the way this blog is going right now. I feel a bit like a hack. And I know I'm not a hack; it's just an unusual week. I have to trust that I'll do better soon. Right now it's all I can do to just keep on doing.

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