I promised to share some of my own poems this month for National Poetry Month so here we go.
Back in 2006, I actually self-published a chapbook collection of every poem I’d written. It was called A Monkey Sonnet: and other poems that taught me a little about life. The monkey sonnet was actually a college poetry workshop assignment and I think it’s quite good.
This book was an Easter gift to my family and was never made available to the public, and for good reason. It had every poem I’d ever written from 1989 to 2006. There are also colored pictures in it that accompany some of the poems. Today is the first day I’ve picked it up in many years. Reading some of the poems is like catching up with old friends – I remember writing them and the meaning behind them.
Today I’m sharing two funny poems from the collection. Both were written in 1990. This first one is a bit short and I even committed it to memory long ago. I liked to recite it out loud while imitating the voice of an old man at times. It’s called “The Little Blue Jay:”
I heard a soft singing voice one sunny day,
I looked in a tree and saw a little blue jay;
He whistled here and then whistled there,
His wonderful song soon filled the air;
Nature sang back, and the sun kept him warm,
The trees gave him shelter from the terrible storm;
That’s when I felt little drops hit my head;
I think that crummy bird will soon be dead.
The original poem was written with curse words. The last two lines read: That’s when the little bird shit on my head; I think that damn bird will soon be dead. For the sake of the book, I changed it because none of my other poems contain bad language.
The writer in me smiles at this poem because of the use of commas and semicolons. That dates back to my grade school years and being taught proper punctuation. So most of my early poems have some kind of punctuation at the end of each line, unlike today where I’d probably use dashes (thanks Miss Emily Dickinson!) or no punctuation at all. I think heavy punctuation gives the poem a heavy feeling and this poem is so lighthearted. What do you think?
This next poem from the same year is called “Being Last.” It was written as a result of my last name starting with a Y. In grade school, you are almost always told to line up alphabetically to go to lunch or to go have your picture taken or to go to an assembly. This meant I was always last. I did have one teacher that reversed the line every other week, so on those weeks I was first! It sucked for the people in the middle who never got to experience a different spot in line, but that’s still not as bad as being last. Being last in a line of about 35 kids sucked. You are last to get a seat, which means all the good seats are taken unless your friends saved one for you. So, yeah, I developed some emotional scares from that over time though I had no control over it. And like any good writer would, I wrote about that…
is not being worst,
is not being first,
is coming in third,
is always observed,
is being passed in a race,
is like dirt in your face,
taking the stride
at least you tried.
No semicolons, but we still have the structure of commas here. I often liked to play with verse and the overall structure of the poem, the reason for the breaks and the emphasis on the repetition. And yep, I loved to write poems that rhymed back in the day.
There is only one other poem in the book from that year, 1990, and it’s a more serious poem about an old man getting ready to die. It almost reads like the theme of these two poems above being combined together. I just now noticed that though. It was never intended. But I’ll save it for another day.
Prior to these 1990 poems, there are two poems from 1989. Both were written in my junior high years and both are about suicide. Yep, pretty morbid stuff. Unlike today’s kids, I never thought about killing myself over the ridicule and taunts I faced everyday back then. But maybe those poems were some sort of cry for help or attention. I don’t know. Like many poets, including my friend and muse Emily Dickinson, death played a role in many poems I wrote. I think that curiosity about what we don’t know is what feeds the muse and as a writer or poet, we put the words on paper. That’s all.
But before the mood gets any darker, I’ll leave it there. More poems to come – both light and dark. For now, laugh with me, read these poems out loud in whatever voice you choose, share them, and enjoy your Friday!