Greetings Tasters, It's April, five days into National Poetry Month from which I am usually scrambling away at a daily something. Not this year. Mostly it involves honing what I have and tending to the new project that will ask form and brevity as its fuel. And the life I legally linked to Mr. Poppycakes and the life I have been trying to heal in the rescue-Persian cat given to Mr. Poppycakes one year to the day that I lost my last major rescue effort (and twelve-year dearest companion) Gladys, the last of my Tuscaloosa life.
April brings extra challenges this year: work-related and the leftover weariness from a winter too long and severe.
But the bulbs I planted last year are daring a glance out and the snowdrops and crocuses have been blooming and all of that makes me feel excited for summer. During a walk by the reservoir, we found a tossed-away plywood ramp that when turned upside down has made a great new flowerbed. (I just painted it fern green and hyacinth blue for the interior.) When it's ready, I'll share it with all of you.
Finally, Mr. Poppycakes and I are getting the bass boat ready to taste the thawed-out reservoir. It came with a name: My Highlander that seemed to be erased away to: My High. Yesterday, Mr. Poppycakes announced he was renaming the boat. Today, after volunteering we Menards-as-a-verb for a mailbox and some paint and stencils to spell-out: the Addie Pray.
So what poetry will I bring to April? I have decided to try one form each week and to aim it towards the two projects I am trying to complete: The Guts and Glass Tooth of it is a chapbook of art and nature. Said like that, it sounds cheesy, but if you look at the work of Char Norman, Erick Swenson and Kit Vasey, you'll see how jagged can that geode-inspired title can get. I love jagged. So for April, each week, I produce a poem in form. I am thinking to begin with The Golden Shovel as invented by Terrance Hayes in honor of Gwendolyn Brooks and rocked by LaWanda Walters in Goodness in Mississippi (I'll include the full text of her poem below. I will be realistic in my summer goals, teach my minimester class, roadtrip to Florida to see my neice and nephew with little Ms. Addie Pray in tow and I will hit several new cities along the way. All of these are worthy goals, and none of them make me feel bad about not doing my annual poem or stanza a day. Stay tuned for what poetics I will manage. I am excited to report back: Lanternes and Golden Shovels in tow.
Goodness in Mississippi
After Gwendolyn Brooks’s “We Real Cool,”
with thanks to Terrance Hayes
My friend said I wasn’t fat but she was, and we
would go on that way, back and forth. She was my first real
friend, the kind who changes everything. Her mother was so cool,
didn’t shave down there for the country club pool where we
sat beside her. I saw a gleam of her secret, silver hair and was left
dreaming of lime floating in a clear drink. I started saying hi at school
and people smiled back. Smile first, my friend said, and we
were a team. The cheerleaders who would always lurk
by the field, showing off their muscled legs—of late
I’d hardly noticed them. We talked about art, we
attended science camp in Gulfport. That’s where her mother got struck
by a car the next year. She must have thrown the new baby straight
as a football to save her. Their family was on vacation, and we
found out at Sunday School, waiting for the choir to sing.
She was so good she comforted me. People saying, “It’s just a sin,”
her mom like Snow White under glass, red lipstick, platinum hair we
knew was genetic. You’ll still look young, I said. I think you’re thin.
We’d skip lunch, drink Sego (“good for your ego”). Last year I drank gin
and called her ex. “She passed,” he drawled, like it was the weather. We
tried powdered donuts with the Sego, sweated to the Beatles and jazz.
Her whole life was beginning. We moved away from there one June,
Mississippi tight-mouthed as a lid on fig preserves. And we—
we white girls—knew nothing. The fire-bombed store, the owner who died
for paying his friends’ poll taxes. Anorexia would be famous soon.
(The Georgia Review, Winter 2013)