Thursday, June 4, 2015

June 4 -- The First Day Poem

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      There are few clear memories of my childhood.
      For the most part I wasn’t paying attention.
      I was not remarkable and neither were my firsts.

      My first day of school I was frightened and then not.
      My first communion I think I wore a white shirt.
      My first kiss was a girl I didn’t really like.
      None of it stood out in any way afterwards--

      Except for one morning late in the first grade when
      I was on the blacktop arguing with a kid
      Over something of no interest even back then
      But that kid was saying something about his dad
      Who was a cop and had a gun the kid would bring
      And I could see in his eyes that it was horseshit
      So I hit him.

      I hit him the only place it made sense to hit him:
      The indent in the skull behind the eye socket
      With the ridge of my knuckles.

      There was no fight--only delivery and impact.
      They picked him off the ground and carried him away.
      The asphalt smelled new and some was on his forehead.

      That was the first time I ever threw a punch,
      I knew then that I had found what I was good at.
      And that I’d have to find something else.

    2. I have absolutely no memory of that. Great poem. You were never a violent person, which is the point you make at the end.

    3. love it. the build up with the shirt and the kiss and then the specificity of that memory with the dad who was the cop and that very directed punch.

    4. the fight the back of the socket! Remarkable, I loved the not so confident approach and then the story took off half way through into the argument over the father the something of no interest. Good poem.

  2. I like this one too, an unusual "first" that makes an impact (no pun intended) Great ending too

  3. My Social Life

    Wes told me missing the first day of Junior High
    would ruin my social life - but I stayed home sick.
    He would have thought he was right - my social life sucked.
    But I was doomed - my brain cancelled out my chances.
    I never got the cool kids, I can’t read faces.
    If girls were telling me to kiss them - I missed it.
    I should have stayed home the next six years to save
    me the torture. I would not have turned to drugs to
    make friends.

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    2. what an ending. understated and powerful.

  4. That turned really dark at the end. Honest too. Strong!

  5. First Day, New Town

    I left the old school behind - new school new city.
    First day of sixth grade was march seventeen, and by
    recess I got in my first fight of three that year.

    He had to show me he was boss - I made him bleed.
    My new teacher didn’t hate me - like my old one.
    The principal didn’t threaten to expel me

    on the very first day of school - like the old one.
    We moved that weekend on my birthday the nineteenth.
    Next week was spring break so I could meet my new town.

    1. OK, one story reminds of of another from a few month's earlier.

    2. OK, really long lines (yes, I know how to count syllables). You aren't going to make me rhyme now?

    3. We'll save rhyming for later! Great poem though and I like the long lines.

    4. you know I only have 10 fingers. ;)

  6. Fairgrove

    There were two signs that Christmastime had arrived:
    KTLA showed Santa and the Three Bears on Thanksgiving night
    And the next day we went to pick out our tree
    At the Fairgrove Christmas Tree Farm

    That Friday was never black, but always green
    The trees seemed to stretch for miles in all directions
    And after we chose the one we wanted I was free to lose myself
    Amid the endless boughs and branches where I found winter’s first exultant promise

  7. The first day of the caterpillars was moist and
    Overcast. There was this green goo on the pavement —
    My grandmother opened her umbrella but it
    Wasn’t raining water, just these critters falling
    From the trees. They went splat mostly but some made it;
    They must have because I looked up and saw all those
    Chyrsalises or whatever the plural is for
    Those filmy pockets that give birth to butterflies -
    I never saw any, but that bright green slime desperate
    Trying has stayed with me til now: gross, beautiful —
    I wanted to dare to transform myself. I did.

    1. great opening and ending: "The first day of the caterpillars was moist..." & "I did".

      I always recommend a strong opening and closing.

    2. I love the narrator. I believe she is with her grandmother as she tells the story and I feel/understand her childlike wonder and horror

  8. Love that two word ending. High contrast. High power.

    1. Yeah, I agree. Those last two words really did it.

  9. Sitting on the Line

    He asked me if I wanted to see what was in his hand
    I said, "I guess"
    He opened his hand up and held it right under my nose
    it was a cockroach
    I said, "so what?" And knocked the bug out of his hand
    he said, "you jerk!"
    I grabbed his hat off of his head and smacked his face
    he pushed me back
    So I pounded him with a quick roundhouse to the nose
    nobody expects a lefty
    then my mom had to come down to the principals office
    she was so pissed
    the principal was concerned that I had beat up a boy
    he had it coming
    they decided it was just a fluke and didn't suspend me
    thank Heavens for that
    that boy avoided me like the plague from then on out
    what a big weenie
    I lost my recess time for two straight weeks that year
    sitting on the line

    1. That's great, but I think he had it coming too! Should have hit him harder!

    2. Lol! I was such a sweet little girl

    3. I remember the line and having to sit on it the whole recess
      What a way to spend lunch as for the boy with a cockroach
      the guy was not used to girls fighting back, he probably had
      no older sisters!

  10. If there is a deeper green than the campus trees,
    it must be hidden far away on the library shelves.
    They’re trimming their branches among the crush
    of frat boys, skateboarders and natural blondes.
    The first day of college is different at fifty-three.
    I march on with the kids and try to keep up
    holding a copy of Camus close to my heart like
    it’s a passport, or equalizer in this new world.
    A landscaper soberly throws limbs into his truck
    as the students brush by, oblivious to his labor.
    But I understand, and I’m nervous on this side
    without gloves and steel toes to protect me.
    This is so singular, I think for a man mid-life.
    Crawling in the funnel of undergraduates
    on the way to class, I focus on the deep green of
    the landscaper’s shirt and wonder about his life
    as Camus leaps from my heart and falls at his feet.
    “Stranger,” he asks? And with a red face I feel
    I’ve been recognized as more worker than student.
    “Pardon,” I reply confused as he hands me my book.
    “The Stranger,” he said, I remember it from college.

    1. I love the way you use Camus in here. I work with returning students all the time, and you've caught their universal trepidation. Really beautiful work.

  11. It was my first day outside in the rain,
    My first storm, back in the days when it rained.
    I climbed on my daddy and begged to go out
    In a summer romper that tied at the shoulders.
    I didn't want a raincoat, hat, boots.
    To me it looked like a giant, powerful sprinkler.
    I wanted to run through it and get wet - join it, not dodge it.
    Dad smiled and said that was a great idea,
    So we ran outside and let the rain fall on us.

    1. I like the idea of a giant sprinkler
      and the fact you wanted to see the
      rain for what it was... to get wet.

    2. Love it too. That's a great memory of your father.

  12. The Big Wave

    The inner tube held me firmly inside
    with my feet up and butt through the hole
    Splashing in the ocean waves
    passed the breakers being dragged out further
    as I floated along haphazardly and deeper into
    the ocean vastness

    Deciding not to get too far from where I could see
    my group on the edge of the coast by the lifeguard
    tower number twelve
    I paddled my way back to shore without noticing
    behind me a bigger wave was approaching
    and the speed of my little tube
    paddling forward as I kicked
    my feet and used my arms to propel myself
    until the wave was upon me and I was mixed
    up in its foam and rode up to the top of its crest
    until it kicked me ahead of its own breaking
    I became catapulted onto the dry sand
    ahead of it
    rolling and tumbling
    with the water churning over me
    as though I was in a washing machine
    Holding my breath for the duration
    I dared not to drown breathing the salt
    water but swallowing the bitterness
    of the ocean

    1. That's really physical, especially right at the end!

  13. Talking about peninsulas, it that a nice little salt and pepper one you got goin on now these days or are you secretly a rabbi? ;-) :-P O:-)

  14. Secret Garden

    Oh geez, Grandpa's house, cant we just drive down first huh?
    Mom says no, okay, on to his dusty domain.
    Corrina, let me show you something...okay what?
    Be polite says gramps, wait grandpa, grandpa Martin.
    Through a screen door and to dozens of trees and shrubs...
    Like a ife experience of Willy Wonka,
    I wanted to run from tree to tree, all the fruit!
    I tried Raspberries, Strawberries, Boysenberries...
    Until I was full. After I ended up there,
    Living. And growing up, it became my jungle.