It was in this way.
Go ahead and believe
In what you will.
The path made
Is the one you chose.
It is in this way
That a life happens.
POEM LIFE premieres this Saturday night, March 21, at the VFW in Locust Grove. Here is another post about something you will experience in the show–the chance to have a personalized poem composed on the spot and taken home with you. If you follow ROMP or know the activities I get up to, you already know what poem-in-a-minute is about. You give me 3 words you like or want to see in a poem, and I type up a poem on the spot with those 3 words somewhere in it.
Instead of typing poems during the show, I will have a segment where I cassette-record 2-3 poems for people. Yes, I have moved up in the technology world–from manual typewriter to cassette recorder. It will be quicker to compose the poem and say it straight into a recorder, rather than to type it–though I’m a quick typer . . typist.
Over the years, as a poet, I have discovered my true calling not in the typical poetic endeavors of publishing poems, teaching them and holding poetry readings (all heroic endeavors) but in creating experiences of poetry for other people. That’s the strong teacher side in me coming out. My family has a long history of accomplished educators, and though I occasionally throw in the towel with teaching, I always come back to it in some way.
Poem Life and the Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry itself have been ways for me to bring together the celebration of poetry with the facilitation of its practice in the lives of everyday people. Poems-in-a-Minute has been one way I’ve extended this philosophy of poetry as experience–having performed at many festivals and venues. Though I no longer strive to have my poetry published (other than on this website), I cannot not be a poet–a wise woman told me that once. I just want to be a poet for other people.
Come to the show, ya’ll!
There will be a $100 door prize drawing and other fun surprises.
He had meningitis as a baby
And almost died. It came
With horrible headaches
That he relieved by lying
In bed and rolling his head
Back and forth and repeating
Uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh
Until he fell asleep.
As children, we often went
With our dad into the woods
And listened to him name
The trees and the fox dens,
The place where moss
Would grow, the unrelieved
Smell of turtle flesh
Rotting in bleached shells.
Once on a trail ride,
My horse slipped and fell
And he jumped off his own
To . . . check on me? Save
Me? He was a tiny, sick baby.
He walked in the world
With me. He is my brother
And nothing will change that.
This is the 2nd post about a snippet from my one-woman poetry show POEM LIFE which premieres on Mar. 21.
One segment of the show describes the crime of Receiving Stolen Goods. Part of the segment includes a poem about my cousin. She used to write me long notes and draw mazes for me when we were in junior high. She had a hard life, abandoned by her mother then neglected and worse. She has lived in my psyche all of my life because I regret that I was not kinder to her. She died many years ago in a car accident in Oklahoma City.
This is one stanza from a long poem about her:
She smelled like urine when she was younger.
They said there was something wrong with her bladder.
She wanted to race me down our grandparents’ hill
and she would always win. She wrapped cheap paper dolls
in purple tissue for me one Christmas. I was embarrassed,
and she gave me things and she was alive.
I still have the 15-page note she wrote me when we were in 7th grade and another shorter one and one that I wrote to her that somehow made it into my grandmother’s things and I got back after she died. In the note, she mentions a Dickinson poem that I told her about and that she wrote out and we taped to the wall of her bedroom once when I stayed overnight with her. That poem always reminds me of her.
I’m Nobody! Who are you? Are you – Nobody – too? Then there’s a pair of us! Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know! How dreary – to be – Somebody! How public – like a Frog – To tell one’s name – the livelong June – To an admiring Bog!
Be kind, her life reminds me. Be kind.
It is March, and the premiere of my one-woman poetry show Poem Life is fast approaching. Until then, I am going to post snippets of things that will be in the show. Here is the first one.
My senior paper submitted
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for
was turned in on March 10, 1980 to Mrs. Akers at Locust Grove High School. Mrs. Akers was a beloved teacher at LG High School for more years than anyone knows. My father was one of her students. LG folks had the experience of generations of their family being taught by her.
She taught Senior English, and when I was a child, the LG Schools Open House was a BIG DEAL. One of its highlights was visiting Mrs. Akers’ room where all the student shadow boxes would be on display. These were elaborately-made scenes from books the seniors had read. Paper-mache, woodworking, clay, painting, sculpture–all kinds of arts went into constructing these dioramas. I loved visiting her room every year to see them. When I was a senior, however, I copped out on all the artistry and picked a Zane Grey novel, bought some plastic cowboys and Indians and made a scene from it. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even read the book. Anyway . . . Mrs. Akers
I remember two things from her class: memorizing Macbeth’s tomorrow and tomorrow speech and diagramming sentences. Mrs. Akers rarely moved from her desk. She was as wide as she was tall, which was short, and her bosom rested on the desk. No one acted up in Mrs. Akers’ class, nor came in tardy, nor threw spit wads.
My encyclopedia-riddled term paper was about T. S. Eliot. I had been writing poetry since I was a child, but I wasn’t familiar with a lot of poets. Eliot was in all our anthologies, and I liked Prufrock because of its elements of doom and rhythm and snooty mermaids. I made an A on the paper and the comment on the cover sheet was “An interesting and most informative paper.” I find it funny that this description is a phrase I use as a teacher when I have nothing better to say. To say a paper is “interesting” is to say it bored the hell out of me but oh well, you tried.
There is nothing original in this paper: I avoided plagiarism at all costs to make it “interesting.” I “Ibid” all over the place. Young folks: Look it if up if that word throws you. There are unintentionally funny lines, such as this one about his wife, “She was clever, witty, vivacious, depressed, nervous, and a death-muse.” I also like this line, “If ordinary people couldn’t understand such writing, then it was too bad for them.” Ibid.
In Poem Life, (premiering March 21), I will devote a few minutes to reading selected portions of this essay while also playing the frame drum, which will add the appropriate note of seriousness to the affair. The last line of my 6-page essay reads, “Eliot, though often difficult, demands thoughtful study.” Ibid., p. 606.
it, not in the road, that nowhere land of fried grass
and pancaked beer cans. Oh spoon,
who dropped you? Why? You are a good spoon,
great ice cream scooping size, perfect
for hearty Rice Krispies and Cheerios eaters,
too large for drugs, too small for serving size.
I will find a home for you.
It is what I do.
Road 438 is the one leading to the museum. I routinely patrol it in the golf cart and pick up trash—anything here forever, like plastic, aluminum, glass. I leave most paper items unless they are huge or are interesting fodder for future poems. Yesterday, I found this spoon. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.