Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Poetry Power

"I think all good poetry is, in a sense, "local" poetry because the only way of getting at the universal is through the particular..."
                                                    Benjamin Myers

The above quote was made by the poet laureate of Oklahoma . I think he nailed the meaning and importance of poetry. A good poem is a window, a shared window, between poet and reader. The poet takes the reader to a place he also knows and recognizes.

I don't enjoy poems that send me to the dictionary or the encyclopedia to figure out what the author is trying to tell me. I like poems that are comfortable like a warm afghan on a winter's day or old gardening shoes in June. Recently I reread Sure Signs by Ted Kooser, one time American Poet Laureate. Such a pleasure to be taken away from the cold, the dark, the tummy ache and be released in the countrysides of the Midwest.

This week my poem "Closure" was posted at Post Card Poems and Prose. I had many welcome comments on Facebook. I wrote the poem a few years ago before my in-laws went to the nursing home. I was pleased with the lines, and I read them to my husband which I rarely do. I finished, looked up, and saw tears in my husband's eyes. He said I HAD his dad on the paper. Two days later I got an email from my sister-in-law that said she also cried when she saw her dad on the page.

I consider this a successful piece of work.


My father-in-law was a reader.
He read books, magazines, and billboards,
The backs of milk cartons, the fronts of cereal boxes.
In late evening, he would mosey up from the rural mailbox,
Thumbing through Saturday Evening Post pages 
While a bundle of bills or a newspaper leaked
From the deep pit pocket of his overalls.
On Sunday morning, pages of newsprint
Gathered at his feet like grey molted feathers.
Often he came to the table carrying a book;
A knife might mark his page until used to spread butter.
Or, he might flee a family dinner right after dessert
To claim his recliner under the tilted lamp shade
And escape into his mystery or a history read. 

Outside the red Farmall tractor now rests idle in the barn,
Weeds crawling up the hefty tires.                
Nearby a plow sits, once shiny blades now inviting rust.
Beyond the barn, pastures rent to other men’s herds.
These days even the book pages are still,
As he turns up the TV--loud--
Rather than struggle through stories and prose.
In the respite from work and toil,
His pleasures, too, have taken flight
In the remnants of his days.


Sioux said...

Claudia--My grandfather spent most of his life in overalls, and loved to read the paper, so your poem made me think of my grandpa.

It's a lovely poem. How wonderful that you could bring your father-in-law back to life through your words.

Elephant's Child said...

Poetry is the language of the heart, and this one speaks directly to other hearts. Beautiful.

Susan said...

Ohhhhhh, Bookie. That was a lovely one, insightful and sad, at the same time. I can see where it could evoke tears, especially in those who knew and loved your FIL. Nice job! Sincerely, Susan

Linda O'Connell said...

That poem is wonderfully moving and the visuals so captivating. Congratulations on the publication!

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Great poem, Claudia. And why didn't I know you're on Facebook? I sent you friend request. :)