Musings, Poems

Accessory

printsbeginning2I wrote a poem on a piece of a grocery sack today. A few months ago I bought the above two pieces of artwork, or as they are called on the back “wall accessories” at a thrift store. They are both prints from 1972 that are titled “We Are Engaged.” I altered one of them and am waiting on inspiration to do the other.

I like the idea of a wall accessory. I suppose a rug is a floor accessory. Is a porch a house accessory? A hanging plant an air accessory? An ice box magnet a refrigerator accessory.

Apparently, I just like the word “accessory.”

–Shaun Perkinsbeginning to learnbeginning4

Poems

In Preparation

sewingThe 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.

–Shaun Perkins

Musings

Place

Blanco-R-Photo-High-Res-HEADSHOT-20131Home. Place. Belonging. These are the three words poet Richard Blanco repeated during his June 11th talk in Lousiville at the Convention Center. Blanco, President Obama’s inaugaural poet who penned the very popular “One Today,” described how he became a poet, how he . . . became. He did not start out as a poet, and, in fact, still works as a civil engineer, the career he trained for. But civil engineering report-writing took him to poetry and poetry took him . . . back to home.

Blanco asked, “What is home to you?” This question has propelled his writing life. Memories of his mother, grandmother, father, and brother, filled with grainy Polaroids from the 70’s, highlighted the talk, interspersed with Blanco’s characteristically sensory-rich poetry of object, place, family and harmony.

He joked about one photo featuring a vinyl green couch which he said was an “Ode to My Plastic-Covered Sofa” and described his grandmother in loving, ornery detail as a woman who shunned the Winn Dixie as being elitist and who was good at backward compliments, such as, “I love what you did with your hair . . . finally.”

He read his poem “Mother Country,” which ends with the beautiful lines in his own mother’s voice:

” . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. You know, mijo,
it isn’t where you’re born that matters, it’s where
you choose to die–that’s your country.”

I had just read Blanco’s memoir of being chosen as the inaugural poet–the process and the poems that came from it–For All of Us, One Today (which I highly recommend for anyone interested at all in the power and the call of poetry)–before the event, and ideas of poetry’s place in our world were uppermost in my mind. It is the reason I started the Rural Okalhoma Museum of Poetry (ROMP), after all—to keep expanding that place in the lives of people from all walks of life.

Near the end of the memoir, Blanco said that he makes a “conscious commitment to keep connecting America with poetry and reshape how we think about it.” During the Q&A, I got to ask him about how he is doing that. He responded that one way was talking to the audience he had right then: A roomful of teachers, all of us in the city to grade AP exams for a week.

Children, we can hope, are first exposed to poetry at home–through riddles and rhymes, wordplay and narrative poems, songs and nonsense poems. Children are poets. And then . . . something happens. The reading and writing of poetry gets lost in the way that so many schools compose their curriculum, divorcing this essential journey with words from its natural place–which is in every aspect of our lives.

ROMP exists to remind people of all ages that poetry is essential to their lives. IT IS ESSENTIAL. It is still the best form of communication for reminding us of our common humanity and our need for home, for place, for belonging.

Thank you, Mr. Blanco.

–Shaun Perkins

Events

Benches!

DSC05510ROMP recently received a grant for outdoor benches. The benches will replace all the mismatched and falling-apart chairs that I have used since we opened. They will be great for our poetry and storytelling events around the fire and also when we have guest speakers and other outdoor events.DSC05511

They are currently just lined up near the museum entrance, but they will be easy to move and arrange however they are needed. Next event is May 30: ROMP Wildflower Day. Come take a wildflower walk in the pasture, read some wildflower poems, write your own, and have a seat on a new bench in the beautiful natural surroundings.DSC05512

Also, be sure to come out on July 10, when ROMP will host Oklahoma’s newest poet laureate Ben Myers for an afternoon on The Possibilities of Poetry.

The grant was from the Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative. Thank you NEOC!

Events, Poems

April 29 Birthday: Rod McKuen

rodmSo Much of Spring

I never saw so much of Spring
as I see now. The tender willow
turning amber. The nightengale,
the sparrow in the heavens
raving.
The moon behind the spider
making web, now blotted out by
geese in trumpet, home again,
home again, home to spring.The toad has found his roadside.
Butterflies are jumping
from cocoons, ants and crickets
share the bush and every truth of
this sweet season.

The moon is now a pearl, a cloud
its shell, as in the tall bamboo and
reed cicadas sing
in four party harmony.

I think the older seasons envy

spring and well they should. The
roses are not blood-red or purple
in extreme.   A subtle pink, a lazy
lavender, no single petal scorched
by sun.   All things al dente,
underdone.

How is it that in all my years I never
saw this much of Spring? To think
I once believed that tenderness
lay underfoot of Autumn.
I am the aging sparrow’s twin
suffering from ill attention, as all
souls concentrate on April things.

–Rod McKuen

NOTE: In honor of National Poetry Month, each day a person’s birthday will be celebrated with a poem about or by him/her. The poems come from all over the place.