I’m working at the ROMP Rummage Store today, and as always, I’m trying to get customers to go to the museum–it’s only 2 miles outside of town. It’s easy to find. The door is open, the lights are on, air conditioner going. A lot of people have no interest in poetry. One woman today said, “I’m scared.”
I said, “There’s no one there. The door’s open–just go in and look around at your own pace.”
I didn’t convince her.
But seriously, don’t fear the poem. Don’t fear the poetry museum.
This museum is for and of the people. You can touch stuff in there. Write on walls. Listen to a jukebox. Sit in an easy chair and read some old autograph books from 1930. ALL of the poetry in it is written by regular people like you. Don’t fear it . . . please.
It’s only called a “museum” because I wanted the acronym ROMP when I started this place 4 years ago.
If you came out to the first museum, this one is quite a bit different. It’s in a different building, across the pasture from the old one. The exhibits and your interaction are different. Come see.
There’s no one there who’s going to tell you how to read the poems or write a poem or what to look at or think or feel. It’s a trusting place. Go in and see.
Don’t fear the poem.
In May, the leaves of the redbud beckon
me from the window where I look
Instead of being
“Beckon” comes from an Old English word
May is a beacon with its multiple layers
Of green and delicate white,
Its insistence on the words
Coax, tempt, tantalize, allure, beguile,
Its need to be better than
Every other month,
To shine brighter,
To achieve the pinnacle
In the calendar that Pope Gregory
Arranged for us when Caesar’s failed
To keep track with the actual days.
May: Your first level of meaning is to
Motion, wave, gesture, bid, nod,
Yet I know you are more than that,
Thus the second row of verbs
That more accurately describe
The marker you have placed
In the book of days of my life.
Today is the birthday of one of the greatest Okies who ever lived. Will Rogers, who was born Nov. 4, 1879, said, “It’s great to be great, but it’s greater to be human.”
In honor of Will, here is a poem that I wrote many years ago. It is based on a memory my gangy told me about when she would ride the train from Locust Grove to Tulsa to see a movie or to go shopping.
They were fifteen and smoked Lucky Strikes
on the train to Tulsa. Both wore their best dress.
Montie Jean’s was blue taffeta with lace
crocheted along the collar. She had to stand
or stroll to keep it from creasing at her hips.
She held Ann’s arm and they squeezed their heads out
one window and shouted into the spring
day at the flitting bright spots of bluebirds
and young men in the fields, checking the soil
to see if the seeds could be planted yet.
They waved to the men, and their smart curls held
in the wind and in the hot, cramped theater
where Will Rogers lassoed both their hearts and
Montie Jean, laughing, swallowed her mint gum.
As part of the celebration of the fall season, the Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry will have a Tin Can Poem Drum Contest. Make a drum from a tin can and come drum it in a rhythm circle at Autumn Movement with us!
Bring your drum out for a contest at the museum:
Saturday, Sept. 26
Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry
Museum tours at 5:00, a drum workshop at 6:00, folk dancing at 7:00, and a drum circle at 8:00 are the events planned. Drums will be judged and prizes awarded at 6:45.
The sewing needle rests next to my eighth
vertebrate. I cannot feel it but know
it is there. The thread circles my kidneys
like amber capillaries. A sloping
row of real pearl buttons, tiny full moons,
bump into my small intestine. Silk blocks
wrap the ligaments of my arms, as if
my bones are on fire and must be bandaged
by something cool. A piece of lace crumpled
into a triangle lines my womb. All
that I am, all of my tools and notions,
I have swallowed and absorbed. I now leave
their world. I open the door to the night
and drink my thimbles before I run out.
It was in this way,
She knew the tree
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.