Tuesday, May 9, 2017

THE POEM THAT CHANGED THE WORLD


It started innocently enough,
a white screen, a thought, leading to an image
accumulating into words
(she thought of rain clouds forming)
the syllables counted, the line skipped
rhythm added (she thought of sidewalk puddles)
and a clever rhyme about New Year’s Day
that made her smile with
hope for better tomorrows
tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
(kind of clichéd, she knew, but it didn’t matter
it felt right for the time of year), she
a junior in university
emailed what she’d typed to her list of friends,
(mostly acquaintances)
with wishes for health and happiness,
and it was read and deleted by most,
but two messages slipped through and
were forwarded to their contact list
and two more were forwarded to theirs
and this went on for weeks
the forwards multiplying virally
through blog links, Facebook sharing and Tweets
and someone posted it on YouTube
accompanied by images pilfered from the web
and a song by Taylor Swift used without permission,
and it got hits and hits galore, millions
and a hundred million and a book deal
(like Sh*t My Dad Says)
that was a New York Times Bestseller
and a film option from Hollywood
and a logo and a phrase that became a clothing line
and the President quoted it
in his re-election campaign speech
and it was translated into forty-two languages
including Swahili, Mongolian, and Ojibwa
and it got its own Wikipedia page
and school children all around the world
committed it to memory
for a while.

Friday, April 7, 2017

RAIN POEM

Because April is National Poetry Month and because coincidentally it's been raining for three straight days and the reports of flooding are flooding in...

RAIN POEM

My lover wants me to write her a poem,
a poem about rain of all things.
How foolish do you want me to look I ask,
everyone knows rain is a cliché.
I suppose you want this poem to be about
tearful rain or cleansing rain or oppressive rain.
Freedom rain, baptismal rain, or something 
more domestic, like diamonds on our kitchen screen, 
rain collected in street puddles that make us skip 
and swerve
on our way to the café, and too bad we forgot
the umbrella to share
and forgive me for wanting 
to hold you a little closer 
so you won't get wet.

What else? Flowers?
I suppose you'll want to hear about flowers in this poem,
they go so well together, rain and flowers,
a tide of red and yellow Columbine,
splash of Brown-eyed Susan,
thorny wash of Rose. No,
I won't fall for it.
As if I have nothing better to do today
than to contemplate rain, make of it 
a stream of words, a river of verse,
an ocean of meaning. Damn it,
more clichés, they dribble off the tongue drop
by drop without stop
and before you know it 
you're waist deep 
in a Hallmark trap of sentimentality,
you're swimming in it and over your head,
so you can't breathe,
and humiliated by acting the child;
rain, rain go away!

Let's just lie here quietly in bed for one morning
ignoring the rain
as my body barely inches toward yours,
it's the best I can do for now.
I won't mention the tap tap tap
on the skylight
or the dark round clouds
hovering over us like disproving faces,
and promise not to mention my failure 
to please you 
with the poem you so desire
or heaven forbid
something as original as love.