Tales From A Hungry Life

April 22, 2015

National Poetry Month

by Maria Schulz

Celebrate!

Celebrate!

April is National Poetry Month. No…WAIT! Don’t run away. Poetry can be fun, and it can also make you think. I wasn’t always so sure about that, though. As a Creative Writing major, I had to take my fair share of poetry classes. Sometimes, there was no narcotic quite as strong as a Poetry professor who would drone on and on about stanzas, couplets, and haikus. Zzzzzzzzzz…oh sorry, I just fell asleep there.

But I was lucky. I was blessed with teachers who just knew how to capture my attention with masterful writing. To teachers everywhere: thank you for your creativity, sense of adventure, ability to laugh, and for helping me recognize the power of the written word.

So many words, so little time

So many words, so little time

In that spirit, I participated in an April Poetry Challenge a few years back. Every day, we received a challenge: write a poem in some particular form or free verse. Here are some of the challenges I had fun with or was inspired by. Ready? I hope you can stay awake with me. Let’s go:

Write a haiku and an anti-haiku poem:

Spring Haiku

Rain splashes flowers

Daffodils and tulips grow

The ground is bejeweled.

A fashion staple! NOT

A fashion staple! NOT

Anti-Haiku

The Catholic school

Girl in me hates uniforms

Or form-bound poems.
Write a poem about traveling:

It's just snow

Night Sweats

Every night, after work,

I look over my calendar

And wonder how I’m going to get

My girls from soccer to softball

Gymnastics to baskeball.

Photo night? Birthday parties?

Special Occasions? Playdates?

I go back to my own childhood

When my bicycle was my lifeline

My mother said, “be home at 5.”

I like my bicycle

I like my bicycle

I rode all over town,

Across the major road that was forbidden,

Because as long as I didn’t get hit,

They would never know.

I took myself to sports and parties,

Throwing balls and gifts into my flowered basket,

Best friend on the back of my banana seat,

We were mostly on time.

Hurry!

Hurry!

Now, I race from one place to another,

My girls screaming in the back seat.

No one rides their bikes anywhere anymore,

God forbid my children take that forbidden road!

I think of that mother in Westchester who dropped her kids

By the side of the road after 2 hours of constant fighting

And think that the prison cell must have been a nice change of pace.

Then I think of Susan Boyle, the Britain’s Got Talent sudden superstar,

Who has totally wrecked my chances of being a middle-aged,

Frumpy, bushy eye-browed singing sensation

(or at least the first of her kind).

These are the places I travel

While the kids are screaming

And we go from one game to another.

Write a poem about longing:

The early days

The early days

Longing

As I watch my girls blossom and grow

I think how nice it would have been

For them to get to know

My mother. How she would have shared secrets

with them, given them money when I refused,

Taken them places I neither had the time or desire to see.

Girly-girl that she was, her energies were wasted

On tom-boyish me.

But my girls would have delighted her,

Shared tea parties and boy stories,

Dressed in feather boas and beaded bonnets,

Enjoyed fashion shows at the mall.

Like her mother before her, my mother would have

Wiped away tears they would never show

Their poor old useless mother.

How is it that I became that old–and useless?

And how is it that

My mother, who never got the chance to be old,

Grows stronger and stronger in my memory,

My head filled with longing

For the mother and grandmother

That early-onset Alzheimer’s stole

Like a cassette tape

that’s been erased

From back to front.

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

Write a sestina:

What’s a sestina? I’m glad you asked:

  1. The sestina is composed of six stanzas of six lines (sixains), followed by a stanza of three lines (a tercet). There is no rhyme within the stanzas; instead the sestina is structured through a recurrent pattern of the words that end each line, a technique known as “lexical repetition”.

Sarita’s Sestina

When it came to laughter

Nothing could stop my mother

Like earth, wind, and fire

Laughter was an exciting boss

Who couldn’t stop piling on the work

And who, in the end, she grew to love.

Even when all seemed lost, there was love.

Mixed with tears and a hearty dose of laughter.

Dancing to wile away the time, always full of fire,

Keeping her hands busy with work

And laughing still, my giggling mother

Was so confused, believing the nurses were her bosses.

She thought, “you have to listen to your boss.”

And so she did, and she made them laugh

Tagging behind them on rounds and worrying about being fired.

Folding towels, pouring juice for other patients, work

Was her one true love

And it helped her get through those days when she called for her own mother.

“Where is my mother?”

She would say as soon as she was done working.

Fear would hide behind the laughter

As she folded faster, always watching for her boss.

The nurses grew to love

Sarita, the dancing patient full of fire.

“They wouldn’t dare to fire

Such a good worker. Not even my boss

Could help but fall in love

With me,” declared my mother.

Her unending devotion to work

Always made me laugh.

“You want to laugh?”

My mother said, her eyes sparkling and fiery.

“Here comes my boss.

Even though I forget, it’s me she loves!”

Mom dances and laughs; that’s my mother,

Taking her tragic denouement all in a day’s work.
Never bossy, always laughing.

Loving and dancing while she worked.

My mother made the most of her mind’s dying fire.

He likes it!

He likes it!

Don’t go yet! Just one more, to lighten the mood. Write a poem titled, “Never (fill in the blank):

Never Eat Pop Rocks and Coke

Never eat pop rocks and Coke

They will make your head explode!

It’s true! It’s a fact!

It’s what did in that kid, Mikey.

You know Mikey–

“He likes it! He likes it!

Hey Mikey!”

Of Life Cereal fame.

What a shame.

He had so much Life left in him.

RECIPE:

Homemade Pop Rocks

Get your homemade Pop Rocks here! Fizzy, fruity, and fabulous, that’s pop rocks for you. I’m happy to report that Mikey is, in fact, still alive and well, and probably enjoying Life cereal, pop rocks, and yes, even Cokes as we speak. This recipe looks like fun–try it and I hope you’ll like it, really like it!

So, have you ever written a poem? Did your eyes glaze over in poetry class, or did you have a favorite poet? What’s your favorite poem? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

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5 Comments »

  1. Just wonderful, Maria–thank you! I feel like poetry is one of those arts you have to learn to enjoy young and keep learning all your life, like opera and petit point. I tried a few years ago to memorize a poem a month. I wrangled Emily Dickinson’s “In a Library” and Rupert Brooke’s “O Death Will Find Me Long Before” into my thick head and then promptly lost them again. How many times have I tried to memorize the 23rd Psalm, the St. Francis Prayer…. argh. Thank God there are artists who keep the forms alive, like you!

    Comment by Beth Goehring — April 22, 2015 @ 9:25 am | Reply

  2. A beautiful poetic remembrance of someone I shall always miss until we meet again. But here’s a poem for you: Life’s a bowl of Cherries; full of big sour pits; Every-time you get the merries; Something happens to give you the fits! And on that note I bid you adieu or three or four!

    Comment by Bglou — April 22, 2015 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

  3. That is “note” not not. Just so you know

    Comment by Bglou — April 22, 2015 @ 2:30 pm | Reply

  4. Maria, Poems were not my thing because I had all those teachers who put you to sleep. When I had to write them I felt restrained. The teachers in their desire to make us learn a specific style cut off a creative flow and did not expose us to the many different types of poetry. I did enjoy your poems about mom. The comment about the cassette being erased backwards was so on point. And mom did make the best of her illness by trying to be helpful and pleasant. Keep up the poetry because your writing brings back the cassette taps in my life that I thought were erased.

    Comment by Tony Lagalante — April 22, 2015 @ 7:53 pm | Reply


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