Reading the daily newspaper (The Baltimore Sun, at our house) is a habit I formed in childhood. My father read The New York Times and our local daily, The Bergen Record every day while he ate breakfast.
When a story sticks with me over the course of the day -- whether it's funny, outlandish or gut-wrenching -- I worry at it. My thoughts lick at the news item as if it were a sore tooth. Sometimes, I just write. Other times, I sit with the story for a time before I find my path into the poem.
I am increasingly disturbed at the attacks against civilians, including children, in Syria. A few weeks ago, I heard a news story on NPR about a young protester who was jailed and tortured. The boy is the same age as my teenage son.
The poem I wrote was published at the e-zine, New Verse News. It is an online journal specializing in poetry about current events.
by Laura Shovan
They are robotic at fifteen, some boys,
quiet as proverbial church mice. Their motors
skitter discreetly beneath the hum
of the family refrigerator, beneath their mothers’
“how was school” banter, beneath the nagging,
the talk-talk, the “I’ll try anything”
to chase him out of this Tin Man stage,
this heartless construction with its monotone
and monosyllables. Even his angles are jerky.
My son called from Nebraska, at last
back at the Best Western late
from Robotics, where his machine,
concoction of metal, gears,
arm lifting objects in its ingenious elevator,
was not picked for the team. It sat
in its 18 by 18 shipping box,
ignored and folded on itself,
elevator arm tucked away.
And in the morning, driving somewhere --
a distraction from my son’s distance -- the radio.
A boy in Datta, not yet sixteen, no church mouse,
volted into protest, its jolts in his wires,
powering up his voice box. Later,
when he called home from jail, his mother said
his voice had changed, the words almost
unrecognizable. Electric shock will do that.
Still, he said what they all say.
It’s in their wiring. We have programmed them
to say it. Now they are men
and they are fine.
Our host today is Mary Lee at A Year of Reading. Mary Lee is looking for bloggers to host Poetry Friday throughout the summer and into fall. Please contact her to sign up.