Education

For Three Word Wednesday, prompt words false, sallow, illustrate. Also submitted to dVerse OpenLinkNight

Education
He labored hard
at his homework,
tongue hanging out
in deliberate effort
as if the future
happiness of humankind
depended on his
answers. Squinting
in the sallow light
of the desk lamp,
the little boy
chooses True or
False, or arranges
numbers in neat rows
on a page, or illustrates
the digestive system
in Crayola cross-section,
while a single bird
lands lightly on a limb
outside  his window,
singing for joy.
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Time to Get Better: or Hot Dang! I’m a Food Blogger!!

I don’t like doctors. I suppose doctors, as people, are tolerable, but I don’t like waiting interminably with my clothes off just in order to be poked on. (I know, putting it that way sounds half-way enjoyable, but you know what I mean.) I don’t have a primary care physician, since I so rarely go, and only go when at death’s door–my physician is whoever happens to be manning the ER at the time. At my last doctor visit–I was delirious with fever–I was in the ER for about 6 hrs. They ran a few simple tests, gave me some Tylenol, and charged me several hundred dollars for the honor. (I’ll pay up eventually, St. Joes.) Anyway, I’ve been sick for the past few days, so I figured it’s time to pull out the cure-all. I’d rather not have another violating visit to the ER.

What we have here is homemade chicken noodle soup, lovingly assembled by The Good Wife. Chicken, noodles, carrots, onion, garlic, the usual. Since I firmly believe in the healing qualities of hot stuff I added a special feature, Georgia Peaches hot sauce. Simple ingredients: peaches, habanero peppers, onions, celery, sugar, peppers, sour mash bourbon, and spices. (I covered up part of the label for my younger readers’ sake–the well-placed peaches on the model look surprisingly like boobies.) The beverage is a SweetWater porter, Exodus. Strong, thick, and chocolaty. I should be better in a couple of hours.

Thomas Wolfe, Prose Poet

(Credit: Carl Van Vechten, p.d.)

Not many readers feel the need make their way through Thomas Wolfe’s 700 page doorstop, You Can’t Go Home Again. Wolfe’s writing is, shall we say, splayed out–for readers who appreciate regular plot sequence and terse sentences, Wolfe will not satisfy. But I like it a lot. One thing I like most about his writing is its poetic feel. He wrote prose paragraphs in the most enjoyable poetic feel of any novelist I have read. Others have noticed this long before I have, and one editor has gone so far as to take some of Wolfe’s prose and line it out. In his Forward to the book I am about to quote, Louis Untermeyer wrote, “It has often been suggested that Thomas Wolfe was a poet who elected to write in prose.” I agree. The following paragraphs from You Can’t Go Home Again are arranged by John S. Barnes in his book A Stone, A Leaf, A Door

Going Home Again
All through the night
He lay in his dark berth
And watched the old earth of Virginia
As it stroked past him
In the dream-haunted silence of the moon.
Field and hill and gulch
And stream and wood again,
The huge illimitable earth of America,
Kept stroking past him
In the steep silence of the moon.
All through the ghostly stillness of the land,
The train made on forever its tremendous noise,
Fused of a thousand sounds,
And they called back to him
Forgotten memories:
Old songs, old faces, old memories,
And all strange, wordless, and unspoken things
Men know and live and feel,
And never find a language for—
The legend of dark time,
The sad brevity of their days,
The unknowable but haunting miracle
Of life itself.
He heard again,
As he had heard throughout his childhood,
The pounding wheel, the tolling bell, the whistle-wail,
And he remembered how these sounds,
Coming to him from the river’s edge
In the little town of his boyhood,
Had always evoked for him
Their tongueless prophecy
Of wild and secret joy,
Their glorious promises
Of new lands, morning, and a shining city.
But now the lonely cry of the great train
Was speaking to him,
With an equal strangeness, of return.
For he was going home again.
But why had he always felt so strongly
The magnetic pull of home,
Why had he thought so much about it
And remembered it with such blazing accuracy,
If it did not matter,
And if this little town
And the immortal hills around it
Were not the only home he had on earth?
He did not know.
All that he knew
Was that the years flow by like water,
And that one day
Men come home again.
The train rushed onward through the moonlit land.

Wild Onions, (edited for dVerse)

[I don’t like to start with disclaimers or explanations, but I feel the need this time to introduce this poem. Some of you have read this one before–I wrote it a few weeks ago for a different poetry prompt community. Forgive me for reposting (I have, hopefully, made a few edits that improved the piece), but one of my friends commented on the original post that she enjoyed my use of enjambment. Since enjambment is what we are after here in this prompt, I automatically thought of this poem. And I also think it meets the criterion of including disparate subjects. Anyway, here goes, for my new friends at dVerse. Join in!]

Wild Onions
Traveling south down the interstate
I passed the mowers mowing,
laying low the overgrowth
along the shoulder of the road.
The sweet smell of cut
grass was mixed with wild onion
which grows in patches here.
Strange how memory resides
in our bodies, not only in our minds;
our very senses pave a road
into the past. I remembered
how, as a kid, I loved
to find these patches,
would crush the thin
leaves in my teeth and wince
at the bitter-ripe taste. But mostly
I remembered a later time,
when I would crank up
the old red Massey Ferguson
to mow the church yard,
twenty sloping acres of grass
and wild onion patches. And you
would come along to ride
beside me, standing on the sideboard
with the dignity of a sentry,
proud to be with me
and I with you. We went
up and down in long
passes, the roar of the rattling
diesel making speech impossible.
Now, for other reasons
speech is impossible,
and I know the meaning
of the words cried out
by David the brokenhearted:
“My son! My son!”
* The last stanza makes use of a story from the Judeo-Christian tradition concerning the Israelite prophet/king David and his son, Absalom. Absalom revolted against his father, and ended up being killed in battle by one of David’s generals. When David heard the news of Absalom’s death, he “wept; and as he went, thus he said, ‘O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!’” 

Christian Wiman

(Credit: http://imagejournal.org)

Lately I have been drawn to writing poems that deal with faith . . . and doubt. So, it was with deep pleasure and compassion that I listened to this Bill Moyers’ interview with Christian Wiman, poet and editor of Poetry Magazine. Mr. Wiman speaks profoundly about faith, doubt, pain, death, and poetry, and I cannot recommend this interview enough. Take a listen.

The Answer

For Three Word Wednesday. Prompt words calm, rattle, know.
Also submitted to dVerse–better late than never. 

The Answer
Long nights,
restless turning, too many
rattling thoughts.
I rise from my bed
wrapped in blackness;
the dark house holds
no comfort. Out
of doors, I walk the
uncultivated field, footsteps
muffled by the long
damp grass, the silent
ground calmly keeping
all her secrets.
I keep walking
onto the new-plowed soil,
the moonlight refracted by
millions of dew-mist prisms.
Coming to the old oak standing
in our field God knows
how long, I kneel
and lay my head
against that ancient bark.
My heart longs
to say something meaningful,
to find words
that will bear witness
to the soul’s awareness
that it is not alone
in this stumbling journey.
I look into the moonlit sky
and know that everything
has already been said.