Friday, April 2, 2010

Poetry Month!

For National Poetry Month, I am celebrating in a number of ways.  Daily, I am posting a short poem or line from a poem on my classroom whiteboard, posting a poem on my class website, and reading a poem (some of which I have written) to my AP Literature classes.  I decided it might be nice to share some of my poems with you as we go through the month -- maybe not every day, but with some consistency :)

Here are the ones I read today and yesterday to my classes:

Bitter Winds
My father lies on the floor
     beside the sliding glass door, open,
     listening to the Santa Ana’s.
Almost 300 pounds, his heaviness looks odd on its side.
Getting up will take work, but
he cannot help himself.

He has never explained what it is,
what the witch’s wind says to seduce him to her side,
but – without fail –
her howl lullabies him.

I have heard tales, how the friction of her swirling winds
brings the devil out of people,
causes sleepless nights and high anxiety,
coerces some to commit crimes they would never consider
in the calm.

These winds that turn chaparral into fuel for fire
quench something in him.

Maybe it is her whisper
     blades of cut late summer grass
     brushed with her breath
which deepens to a mother’s moan
he thought lived only in his stomach.

Maybe her song is his,
as David’s lamentings are our own,
timeless cries giving voice to our shame,
giving voice to our need
for a home in God’s heart.

When my father lies on the floor
and listens to the wind,
I tease him for his adolescent devotion
          a boy lost in daydream of a girl
          who does not know his name.

But, what I wish I would do
is lay down next to him
     my own heaviness on the floor
so that I might finally hear
my father’s song.

On a Grandmother's Passing
English teapots and ruby rings
peridot bracelets
a cameo pin
Barbie dolls and black shoes

closets and cabinets cluttered
with what Grandma did not have time
to give away

Now the children
and their children
and their children
sift
through the things she had collected
the things she left behind
hoping to heal themselves with objects
just as she had tried to do
all those years.

But the Virgin statue on my mantle
and the bracelet around my wrist
really remind me nothing of
my grandmother,
a round woman worn thin as apron strings,
fragile like a hollow Christmas tree ornament,
but packaged ina a thick skin and snapping tongue.

She pranced, danced around her kitchen,
skin dewy from the heat,
eyes flickeringwith the flame of the gas stove,
eyes flickering with worry and want.

She was a woman
who wanted to be Scarlet O'Hara
or someone, at least.
Instead, she was
Evangelina turned Vangie
turned Susan,
turned Eve,
wife and mother,
grandma and great-ma,
enough for us,
too little for herself.

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