Thursday, April 2, 2015

This One's for Tara

That's Tara, seated on my right.
Last month, I was honored to be the featured author at the Fitchburg (MA) Library's Author Night. The moderator was a fine young woman named Tara Dugan, who, as it turns out, is a distant cousin... although I'm still not sure how. Despite any genetic connection she may have with me, she did a great job.

After the talk, she mentioned that she enjoyed reading my blog posts. I thought she was just being nice, since it had been nearly a year since my last post. I had decided to let the blog sink into even deeper oblivion. But when she started talking about specific topics I'd written on... well, she inspired me. So thank you, Tara. This first "return" post is for you.

Since it's National Poetry Month, I thought I'd post a one-sentence poem I wrote a few years ago. I invite anyone who happens to see this entry to post one of your own originals in the comment section, or to share a poem that has special meaning for you. Here's mine (and I hope Blogger doesn't screw up the enjambments):


While I was revising a poem that sucked, my long-dead
mother and not-as-long-dead father visited to remind me
that writing was the fast road to starvation and to ask
what I was doing
in the Express Lane

by writing poetry; after all, being Irish was not a divine right
to sing the blues, especially since I was given Middle America,
hours of humid afternoons to float like an astronaut 12 feet
above the drain
of Lakewood Park

pool, red-and-yellow autumns, and scratchy sittings on Santa’s lap
at Higbee’s, where afterwards we’d have a cool chocolate frosty
in the basement and watch the ladies browse blankets and punch
pillows and why
did I feel it necessary

to use words like suck anyway but back to the main point, which was this:
I was not going to find what I was looking for in words, no one ever does,
especially those with real responsibilities but never mind, it didn’t much matter
since I never did
much listen anyway

which is okay, they said, we’ll stay here—in the dress you’ll remember
from the picture, the suit you’ll recall from the smell—silent, quiet as mice,
while we lie with our hands softly at our sides as we ever so patiently,
ever so eagerly,
wait for you. 


  1. I love "Editorial Advice" - my parents look over my shoulder all the time, even though I lost both of them a long time ago. I'm not a poet, but here's something I wrote soon after my had a fatal heart attack.

    I remember the comfort of your lap.
    On late summer afternoons
    in the front porch rocker
    I explored the many pockets
    of your blue bib overalls.

    Each held a different treasure:
    unfiltered Lucky Strikes packed
    behind a bright red bullseye,
    covered with crackley cellophane.
    If it was a new package
    there was a little red strip I could
    pull to let the rich tobacco smell out.

    There was a shiny silver Zippo
    and a tiny box of wooden matches,
    for use when the old lighter didn't work.
    You didn't like the paper book matches
    some men carried. Sweat made them damp,
    you said, and unreliable. I loved to
    watch you light the match or the lighter
    with a flick of your thumb.
    It was strong and stained nicotine
    yellow, like all your fingers.

    One pocket held a worn brown leather
    snap-top coin purse. I learned to count
    lining up pennies and Indian Head nickles
    on your calloused palm. In another pocket,
    a soft white muslin pouch held loose tobacco
    and a thin packet of roll-your-own papers.
    You only used them if the Lucky Strike pack
    and the brown coin purse
    were both empty at the same time.

    My favorite pocket held the gold pocket watch,
    the engraved design around its face worn smooth
    by the touch of your hand
    and the touch of your Daddy's hand.

    I held it against my ear and listened
    to the tick tock, tick tock, while
    my other ear pressed against warm denim
    and heard the slow solid drumbeat of your heart.

  2. Beautiful, Carolyn. This poem engages all the senses. And the heart. Thanks for sharing.