April 12, 2016

Friday, June 10, 2011

Poetry Friday Picnic

We're counting days (9) until school is over. I even made a waiting chain for my kids.

It's a momentous season for us. My son is heading to Calvert Hall College High School, and my daughter is moving up to our local middle school.

That means the next two weeks are packed with final band concerts, celebrations, ceremonies and class picnics.
Miss J on clarinet.

Today, I'll join the fifth graders at Centennial Lake for their picnic. There will be kickball, a walk around the lake, watermelons, and snowballs (the Maryland version). To share the celebratory mood, here is Gregory Djanikian's poem, "Immigrant Picnic."

Immigrant Picnic

Gregory Djanikian

It's the Fourth of July, the flags
are painting the town,
the plastic forks and knives
are laid out like a parade.

And I'm grilling, I've got my apron,
I've got potato salad, macaroni, relish,
I've got a hat shaped   
like the state of Pennsylvania.

I ask my father what's his pleasure
and he says, "Hot dog, medium rare,"
and then, "Hamburger, sure,   
what's the big difference,"   
as if he's really asking.

I put on hamburgers and hot dogs,   
slice up the sour pickles and Bermudas,
uncap the condiments. The paper napkins   
are fluttering away like lost messages.

"You're running around," my mother says,   
"like a chicken with its head loose."

"Ma," I say, "you mean cut off,
loose and cut off   being as far apart   
as, say, son and daughter."

She gives me a quizzical look as though   
I've been caught in some impropriety.
"I love you and your sister just the same,"

Read the rest at the Poetry Foundation.

The diversity in our local schools has been a gift. At the elementary school's International Night, we learned that dozens -- plural -- of languages are spoken by the school's families.

Tonight, I will be working the photo booth at the 8th grade celebration. My son will be sporting a black suit, bow-tie, black high-tops with neon green laces and shades. Some of the girls bought their dresses in February. We put my cool customer's ensemble together yesterday.

Join the poetry part at Picture Book of the Day. Anastasia is hosting Poetry Friday!


Heidi Mordhorst said...

Hi, Laura--

Knowing you still have NINE (can that be right?) DAYS left makes me feel a little better, although how I'll get all packed up by Friday I don't know...gotta move schools whether I like it or not!

Bit by bit I'm discovering Gregory Djanikian, and I always love the attentive guest/effortless native tension in his work.

Also like seeing Miss J with her clarinet and Mr. X in his neon laces. Thanks!

Author Amok said...

Hi, Heidi. Howard is SUPER late this year. It's crazy. Congrats on the end of your school year.

Djanikian is a new poet to me. I love the use of dialogue in this.

I am not allowed to post photos of the 14 year old, but it's not hard to picture Mr. Super Cool.

jama said...

What a joyous, fun poem. Of course I loved all the food (felt I was there, could taste it all), but like you said, the dialog is great! "You're on a ball . . ."

Your daughter looks like you :). Have fun today!

Ruth said...

I love this poem, and posted it myself for Poetry Friday a few years ago. Enjoy the last few days of school!

Author Amok said...

Hi, Jama. People stop me and my daughter all the time. We must look *really* alike.

Thanks for stopping by, Ruth. Taking a brief break from the 5th grade picnic before I head to the middle school to help with dance prep.

Julie said...

Wow - wonderful poem. I love that hat shaped like the state of Pennsylvania, and the jumbling of idioms, especially "grow nuts" and then the unexpected image -so beautiful - of pistachios in the Sinai. Thanks for sharing this, Laura.

Author Amok said...

Me too, Julie. The details are juicy! It's the jumbled idioms that catch my ear. They express so much about the family portrayed in this poem.

Michael Ratcliffe said...

Hope you don't mind if I share an "immigrant" poem of mine:


The immigrant in his food truck,
parked at the edge of the lot,
sells reminders of home—
pupusas, tamales, tortillas—
to hungry laborers coming off shifts,
or waiting for work in the morning light;
to men whose families wait back home
for the monthly remittance,
or the fee for the coyotes to bring them North.

His foods remind him
of the land he farmed
and the corn he grew,
like his ancestors
long before the Spanish,
and before the flood
of cheap corn from America.

His farm is now a memory;
views of his fields replaced by
the asphalt and concrete of parking lots,
bare earth of construction sites,
and the faces of men like him,
looking for something to take them back home.

Mary Lee said...

Holy Cats!! NINE MORE days??? I feel so rich -- we've been out since the Friday before Memorial Day (first time Ever). Enjoy all the last week fun!

Hey, this poem goes really well with THE GREAT WALL OF LUCY WU. She's working on Chinese idioms in Chinese school, and come to find out, they work in her very American life, too. Lots of food in that book, too. Dumplings, noodles...Jama would love it!!

Author Amok said...

Michael, thank you for posting the poem. It's another wonderful example of how connected food is to our sense of heritage and family.

Mary Lee -- I *know*. It's crazy. I will check out THE GREAT WALL OF LUCY WU. Sounds like a wonderful book to share.