after reading Wm. Blake and some John Donne, both heavily symbolic poetry, i decided to think about important symbols in my life, but write about the events around them.
the largest oak in the backyard,
the one with a tire swing near the playhouse,
wanted climbing. it always did.
that led to a very bad bloody nose, when
toddy, my neighbor and friend,
began pounding nails through a board.
he intended to make a ladder
of boards up the tree. a poorly struck
hammer blow sent the nail
flying backward, and his nose bled and bled and bled.
my aunt had a pair of riding boots,
english style, tall and thin soled, and
for reasons i didn't know, and don't know,
they were in our attic, in the dark
and terrifying narrow space where dad
kept his suitcases, and mom kept
boxes of old clothes. occasionally,
when i thought of it, i would steel my nerves,
turn on the forty watt bulb
and try on the boots, waiting for the day
they would fit. they never did.
they were too big. then they were too small.
an utrillo print, very ugly, hung
above the mantel of our fireplace. a dreary print.
it was, i suppose, my mother's attempt
to add sophistication to an otherwise
sad room. the house was happy enough,
the screen door opening and slamming shut
with friends coming and going, but
the print cast a pall. maybe no one noticed
but me. i would have chosen something cheerier.
since my brother is so much younger than me
i was almost like a third parent to him.
now the age difference means less, and we
are growing closer, a dependency is developing.
when my brother was very little
someone gave him a stuffed animal, a monkey,
for his birthday or christmas. it became
a family tradition to give him a stuffed monkey,
not a real stuffed monkey, the plush things,
on his birthday and christmas until
he had quite a collection. there was chester o'chimp
that talked when you pulled a string in his back,
and there was his favorite, a white monkey
he named mr. anno. mr. anno was a part of the family.
now he and the others reside in a closet.
my brother is getting the hang of girls.
things change. i hate to draw conclusions.
some symbols represent awakenings, some closings.
this one represents both. a friend
invited me to a party. it was in a part of town
that was unfamiliar to me. we walked up
a narrow flight of stairs, the doorway
fronting the street betweens two businesses.
the apartment was above one of them.
it was evening, and summer. the room
was almost empty but for a dozen people, our age,
lying on the floor, leaning against walls,
sprawled over the couch. the rug was filthy,
the windows were too. everyone was drunk
and stoned, no one was talking, or barely.
bottles of beer, wine, tequila, and more,
littered the floor, or were being passed around.
there was salt and lemon for the tequila.
it was the first time i heard the song layla.
when my friend drove me home
i was so drunk i didn't know . . . i didn't know anything.
in my cozy bedroom and bed
the room swirled and i drifted in and out
of consciousness, getting up to be sick.
i've heard of girls named layla. i would not
do that, i'd rather not remember that night.
but we remember things we'd rather not.
a bass i caught, that my dad brought home for dinner.
i watched it gape and die. it took forever.
blake and donne used symbols
easily recognizable to english readers.
my symbols mean something only to me.
a blue satin hair ribbon. a ring
terri gave me. a piece of driftwood
from a trip to wisconsin. my grandfather's
i.d. bracelet from wwii. such things
as that, as those. i don't know
what they mean, but they mean something.
in a way, they all make me sad.
the blue ribbon
except the blue ribbon. it is, i guess,
a symbol of my deflowering. that would be julie.
nothing sad about that.
these are not symbols, are they?
they're reminders. i guess in my world
of poetry, in contemporary poetry,
we use analogies, metaphors, and similes
rather than classic symbolism.
things change. i hate to draw conclusions,
but i think this poem is not what i meant it to be.
classes start on the thirty-first. professor eliot
agreed to lead another seminar.
that makes me really happy. marcy
is in first year med school, but said
she'll try to come when she can. antoinette,
i'm not sure. colin, yes. professor eliot
said there will be at least two new students.
i have to begin thinking of themes,
and i have to begin writing what i mean to write.
Poetry by one trick pony
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Written on 2015-08-24 at 02:48
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