Wednesday, July 03, 2013

repost/rewrite: poems

Saturday night, we were talking with some friends we've known for many years, and the conversation gradually turned to some gloomy topics; specifically, friends or family who died unexpectedly and the heartbreak and process of grieving. So, when a link to one of my old entries in my blog sidebar caught my eye this morning, I reread it and decide to repost because of its relevance to the topic we had discussed.

Life as Normal

14 years old, blonde ponytail, crisp-pleated cheerleading skirt
Sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere
with a brick main street and hideaways on the outskirts of town for illegal beer

Summer-dried grass crunches beneath my feet on the worn path home
Crunch to broken sidewalk to manicured lawn of the First Baptist Church to red dirt alleyway -- Almost home.
White Oldsmobile with a broken taillight resting heavily,
in the sloped driveway
Near the modest yellow sided house
with overgrown bushes and a large picture window.
Dad's home already?
A lag in her step, almost unnoticeable
A tightness in her chest that goes unseen
A shake of her head to clear it.
What time does the game start, again?
Life as normal in a sleepy small town.

My poetry professor thought I was describing a situation where a girl was being abused by her father, and was nervous because she saw he was home early. Yikes! Actually, this was describing an experience I had (maybe several times) right after my Dad died. It's weird how you will forget someone is gone. Your brain just can't comprehend or keep hold of the fact at first. I think this was the poem where you were supposed to use sensory descriptors to set the emotional tone, without describing the emotions explicitly. I got points counted off for my original 14th line because it was too explicit (orignal line: "And a cold dullness descends."). I changed it now, after remembering the feeling and thinking about it more, trying to use using sensory descriptions to evoke the emotions I felt, and I added two more lines after it. Does it work? The final line is still from the original.


One day
We danced
And I thought I'd nearly burst my joy over

The next day
you left me


I cried wordless prayers

Some day

I'll clasp your small beautiful hands
And we'll spin and dance again
With your wild curls trai

Sorry, these are both really depressing poems, huh? This was a hard semester, I guess. This one is about my friend Yvonne who was killed in a car accident. The assignment was to use visual cues to add depth to the poem (something to that effect anyway). I was describing the joyous little-girl openness and the hope of eternity that we shared in our friendship. There is nothing I would change in this one, as of yet. It still nails how I felt/feel about her. 

Jacob wrote a book of poems as a class assignment and a Mother's Day gift for me this year. I thought they were wonderful, especially considering he's a fifth-grader. His chosen theme was "the elements" -- as in, each poem referenced an element of the periodic table. Such a scientist and tender heart mixed into one!


  1. What a wonderful gift from Jacob! I love it. And these. And you. Was just thinking yesterday ( again) how thankful I am for this family of friends.

  2. I love you, too, Betsy. Heath and I were just commenting yesterday on the very same thing about the blessing we have in this family of friends. Sometimes heartbreak and needing to lean on people reminds us how much we love and appreciate the ones who are willing to help hold us up.

  3. Oh Yvonne. What a beautiful poem for her. Thank you for these.

  4. Thanks for sharing, Jenny. I think most of us can relate in some way to both poems. Life is both joy and heartbreak.