Friday, January 7, 2011
Poetry Friday: Endings and Beginnings
This year will mark many endings and beginnings for my family. Both of our children are transitioning at school. My son is deciding which high school to attend. My daughter knows all too well (from observing her brother) that middle school means big changes for her.
I am starting a new job -- really a new spoke on the wheel of my writing life.
Little Patuxent Review, is losing its longtime editor, Michael Clark. For years, Michael has long distance edited from Singapore, where he's just been made head of the Singapore American School's English department. Michael is an amazing editor and I am thankful to him for being a supporter of my work.
I asked Michael to share a poem of his own, one appropriate for the high school classroom. "The Daily Grind" reminds me of the fears and anxieties teens have about adult life.
As they transition out of high school, choosing what they will do next is, for many, the first time they consciously make a decision that has long term implications for their lives. They are facing a strange combination of I'll-conquer-the-world excitement and the fear that they will fall into a bland life, "Back to the thumbtacked cube. Back to sleep... Usher in the New Year, numb."
Mary Oliver's "The Summer Day" for a contrasting point of view.
The Daily Grind
by Michael R. Clark
Suddenly it’s June, or Thursday,
And all to snatches of an old tune
About possible pasts the creek’s trickled
By. How many times have been the last --
Or no more -- or never again -- the fear
That one’s life is being portrayed on television.
But there’s no muscle there. Just skeletal scripts.
Transgressing the unwritten. Driving on the spare.
That’s all just dead people laughing, whatever
You hear. The spent bulb’s sugared with dust,
The tiny clink of the broken filament
Like the struggle of a cricket in a steel sink
Way past the end of summer.
Who decides if your heart will break or bend?
Yesterday’s puddles glazed with subzero ice.
The mind boggles. The windshield’s befuddled.
Trembling in the rearview: all the old selves.
The old loves. Where’s this highway lead to?
Back to the thumbtacked cube. Back to sleep.
Wool-pulling. Usher in the New Year, numb.
Don’t you sell me what’s cruellest.
I’ll shop for it. A footprint. An eggshell.
The median’s littered with bolts and shoes.
Thirteen steps from curb to door. In the hedge, a titter.
The bulldozer idles at the cemetery’s verge:
Matrimony. Matriculation. Rehearsals. Recitals.
The stub’s worn slippery tip dangles on its string.
Requesting the honour. Unseen in the periphery
We’re blowing past the exit. A blasphemous hour
Poorly spent. Boards clap and walk; the last
Hangs like an uprooted tooth. In the dark ward,
Erosion has worked its slow undoing. Rubbery shoots
Weren’t there yesterday: ideas were their souls.
Even the ivories can’t signal what it means to play.
The locomotive press of the Labrador’s pant
Chugs across the hardwood. Is this the address?
No one by that name. Paper cut. Please. Forward.
A town where every intersection looks the same
But the circle you follow is never quite there—
A tectonic drift of asphalt and paint. Sprawl and swallow.
Deaf to the motor’s roar, the muffler’s drag, see the fault
Split the glass like a Cheshire grin, the crumby floor,
Until: a nylon blur, a vinyl plaster, Bond-o, rusty fissure.
Valuable advertising minutes. Pinched arteries. Disaster.
Grainy video tic. Flashbulbs at the finish.
Yap and chatter—reality, every day, more idiotic.
Stranded on the cell, sweep of lights, a flat:
The tire iron dead and heavy. Just keep
On driving. The salt and sand grind. Ahead,
Is that sunlight’s Monet smear on the asphalt?
Don’t look: suddenly it’s June. Or Thursday.
Posted with permission of the author.
Thanks to Irene at Live. Love. Explore! for hosting the Poetry Friday party today.