Two little girls went out for a walk
in the chilly autumn air,
and they gathered handfuls of leaves as they talked,
and the leaves were as gold as their hair.
They followed the path that cut through the park
and wound with a slow little creek.
They never minded the frost on the bark
or the cold wind that bit at their cheeks.
They fed the ducks leaves from the withering trees,
but the ducks didn’t seem to care
I said with a sigh that ducks didn’t eat leaves,
but the girls only wanted to share.
I measure myself in lines of poetry,
and some seasons I don’t amount to much.
If poems were leaves and I a tree,
I’d be a sorry, patchy thing,
full of bursting, sun-bleached buds
with a dry pile ready for the fire at my feet.
And a passer-by might ask himself
(or another with whom he wandered the yard)
if this blasted thing were a tree at all
or something only trying to be;
and should they cut me down and count my rings
they’d find me older than some sprouting trees
that blossom always in the early spring—
but though my rings be many and my leaves be few,
I mean to see this winter through.
Drugs clear bloodshot eyes
for work but not tears in the
eyes of those I’ve hurt.
In trying to find my voice,
I’ve often let others invade me
and govern my every choice,
allowed them to persuade me
to write only in free verse
’cause rhyming’s too “sing-songy”.
They strip all of these things from me
telling me I’ll be different from the rest—
if I hang with them in starbucks
with an unkempt beard and an undercut
wearing Burnie stickers and a hipster vest.
If I’ve taken this too far,
forgive me. I didn’t mean to.
But let’s forget about who we think we are,
and focus instead on what we do.
and it’s nearly October before I come back.
I’ve been gone so long
I don’t even remember how to start a new post.
I hunt a full five minutes for the link,
and by then I’ve nearly talked myself out of it anyway.
The longer it’s been since I’ve done something,
the less confidence I have in my ability to do it.
“It’s been five months since
‘Working at a Cellphone Company’ was published.
Here’s how the post has performed so far…”
a message says,
and I’m not sure whether the site is trying to motivate
or discourage me.
Either way, it’s working, and I’ve found the link.
I place my fingers on the keyboard.
It feels like coming home.
I don’t even hesitate –
I’ve had my fill of that in five months.
There is only one thought in my head.
Hey there! Thanks for reading my latest piece. Who are you, you might be asking? Oh! I’m the regular guy that carries the wannabe poet around inside of him until he bursts out of my chest like something from a science fiction movie. I know your next question: why haven’t we heard from you before? Good question! And… I’m not sure I know the whole answer. I think I know part of it though.
Part of it is organization. I think I felt like this space should be reserved for “polished” creative writing. I don’t know if it was just that or if I wanted to paint a certain picture of myself or what, but I figured I’d try something new and allow myself to be a person instead. Don’t think this is some kind of grand re-awakening or something grandiose like that; I think it’s just me trying to overcome the resistance I’m feeling as I try to get back in to writing creatively on a daily basis. I figure I’m more likely to do that if I don’t have to get in to character (or at least if I can break the third wall in a post-script).
Anyway, I might do more of this, and I might not, but I just wanted to take a minute and talk frankly for a bit about what I was thinking when I when I wrote this piece.
Five months ago I read a book by Stephen King called On Writing. It was awesome, and it gave me some of the tools and confidence I needed to help me get to work on a story I’ve been mulling around for years. I got into the habit of writing about 400 words a day on that story. I was so excited! Things were coming a long great, and the story seemed to be taking on a life of its own. I got so absorbed in it in a few weeks that my poetry fell by the wayside.
I don’t know why, but my story slowed to a stop eventually. I hope to come back to it soon, although I’m not exactly sure what happens next. Anyway, I must have burned myself out with what I got done, because I stopped writing the story and didn’t pick up poetry again.
Then school began, and I started my last semester as a student teacher. All of that inspiring kids to write started working on me again, and in my prep period I found some down time and thought of my old blog. Hopefully I can keep it up for a while this time. Knowing me and my creative spurts, I will slow down again at some point, but in the mean time…
It’s good to be back.
Makes one serving.
Open one large package of unapologetic nerdiness.
Pour entire contents into large bowl.
Add 2 rounded scoops of addictive personality,
1 scoop of skepticism, and
one half scoop of confidence in abilities.
Shake in inordinate amount of short-lived but fervent interest in everything.
Fold in family time, literature, learning, and video games until mixture takes on hectic look.
Leave some room for homework (optional).
Add four tablespoons of childish/reckless behavior.
Add half a pinch of patience (to be used very sparingly).
Pour caution into separate bowl.
Open window and throw contents into wind.
Collect what remains and as afterthought to be sprinkled to taste(optional).
Pour mixture into a 5 foot 7 inch pan.
Bake at 98.6 degrees for 25 years.
Warning, final product may not appear this aged externally.
Chill and serve.
Playing night games is
so much more entertaining
after you’re married.
My soul will have to
scrape flesh from its fingernails
when my body dies.
You’re a lovely book
set behind glass and the red
words “Do not touch.”
It fell down when the bracket broke
while I was away at work.
I called my wife as soon as it started raining
to have her shelter anything that was outside.
She was at home taking care of two babies
by herself and couldn’t answer the phone.
The fabric of the flag got soaked in the pouring rain,
and the extra weight bent the bracket down
until the flag slipped out and fell
to the ground under the dripping eaves of the house.
You saw it there—the flag for which which you had given
your sweat and blood and so much of your life,
the flag you defended overseas,
the flag for which your buddies died in the dirt—
you saw it there, caked in mud, and
you didn’t even hesitate.
Though I wasn’t there I can almost see you,
propping your collar up against the
soaking sheets of incoming water
as you slammed the car door
then raced across the swampy grass
in shoes far less suited than combat boots
to pick up the flag and roll it carefully
before knocking on the door
to hand it to my wife.
You told her that you were a soldier,
and that the mud was
“no place for a flag to be.”
Dear soldier who rescued our flag in the rain,
Lest you consider me indifferent,
I want you to know that I have the deepest respect
for men and women like you
who have sacrificed to sustain a country
in which I can leave my wife and daughters at home,
and know they’ll be dry and safe from the storms of the world.
Dear soldier who rescued our flag in the rain,
I want you to know that I honor our flag
and all it represents,
which is why I fastened the bracket
to the front of my house and proudly
fly it there as often as I can, and
I want to tell you how grateful I am
that you braved yet another storm
to uphold and protect our flag.