July 4th and Bad Poetry, etc.

My 39th attempt to get a good shot of the fireworks...with the flag of Morocco in the background.

Got my fill of a traditional American 4th of July, Philly-style with a delicious barbecue, courtesy of my cousin, and a surprise appearance by Boyz II Men on the parkway, who performed their all-time classics.

I hadn’t seen the fireworks there in years, so it was nice getting to see them once again. My favorite kinds are the ones that flower from the deep into ginormous dandelions and that disappear as pinpoints of blue or red fireflies.  Every time I see those I get the same reaction in my stomach as I did when I was a toddler, perched on my dad’s shoulders in the lot across our apartment to watch the fireworks. It always felt like they were coming at me from the darkness.  I used to flinch, even though I admired them.

Speaking of younger days, I found a poem that I wrote when I was about 13 or 14 that surprisingly won the Walt Whitman young poets’ award. I never gave it a name, so on the certificate it says, “1st place for ‘Untitled.'”  In retrospect I really should’ve been less lazy and just named it, at least a straighforward name like “Fireworks:”

fireworks
over the lake
red       and      green
and
purple
shooting
stars
flowering into
cinderella’s ball gown –
shimmering connect-the-dots
and vibrant  e x p l o s i o n s
held her terrified
enraptured on a
father’s shoulder

oh for the world to be as
endless
as this night in the old
parking lot
as jubilant as
these multihued   s t a r s
as safe as these strong shoulders

to be forever young
with a mind devouring beauty
and
possibility with
insatiable hunger
to be   her   once again
this tiny 5-year-old who saw
colors and wept from joy
and wondered at
the       miracles    of the sky
who knew nothing but to be
in awe    to be
safe        to be
Loved.

Get a load of those line breaks!  I guess what was Cinderella’s ball gown then is a “ginormous dandelion” now. Metaphors are just like people, they change and become a bit more jaded. You can also totally tell I was going through my vampire phase with the line that goes “to be forever young…with insatiable hunger.” I guess it could be Walt Whitman-esque, with its ramblingness, patriotism, and profuse use of adjectives. Other than that, I’m glad my poetry has somewhat improved since then.

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Unleaving…

Autumn Leafs

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

– Gerard Manley Hopkins, ¨Spring and Fall¨


After Persephone

The peeling of potatoes
brings a dream
about my mother,

in the kitchen,
its dimensions not mistaken
for any other childhood rooms,
cousins´ houses, rooms
from other lives.

Faded cupboards, grease
on the counters.
Black and white feather
belly of the cat.

My mother throws two red tacks
onto the floor, one straight
one bent.  One, perhaps, for the cat

which used to collect
small things underneath
the couch: lego pieces, buttons,
lost rings.

Two red tacks go
unchanged on the white-tiled floor.
They are for passing the time,

for divining her fortune while
she prepares eternally
the evening meal.