My First Poem

I have never written a poem on my own before and I don’t know how this happened. I wrote this, on my phone (which is very unpoetic of me) and in less than ten minutes. It just poured out (probably because it’s not very good, but I suppose you should never ignore what your mind sends you). It is dark and personal but I felt like posting it. I teach poetry comprehension on a daily basis, but I have always struggled with writing it. So here you go guys, my first poem:

Mother

I couldn’t have known when in your arms
That you were longing for something else, somewhere else
Away from my cries and outstretched arms

I couldn’t have known why the tears in my blue eyes
Mirrored the tears in your blue eyes
I couldn’t have known how my screams echoed around an empty room
Bare
The pictures of faraway places ripped from the walls
You would never go there

When I laughed it broke your heart
I didn’t understand, you thought
I didn’t yet know pain, yet I saw it everyday
In your white knuckles and your strained smile
Assuring visitors of my placidity

Now, a woman, I see you smile
Sometimes you laugh
But she knows the pain you harbour
She remembers the tears
She remembers studying your face, searching for comfort and hope

The baby
The girl
The child

Don’t worry guys, I’ll be back to my weirdly humourous self soon.

A Beautiful Poem: The Skunk by Seamus Heaney

The Skunk

Up, black, striped and damasked like the chasuble
At a funeral mass, the skunk’s tail
Paraded the skunk. Night after night
I expected her like a visitor.

The refrigerator whinnied into silence.
My desk light softened beyond the verandah.
Small oranges loomed in the orange tree.
I began to be tense as a voyeur.

After eleven years I was composing
Love-letters again, broaching the word ‘wife’
Like a stored cask, as if its slender vowel
Had mutated into the night earth and air

Of California. The beautiful, useless
Tang of eucalyptus spelt your absense.
The aftermath of a mouthful of wine
Was like inhaling you off a cold pillow.

And there she was, the intent and glamorous,
Ordinary, mysterious skunk,
Mythologized, demythologized,
Snuffing the boards five feet beyond me.

It all came back to me last night, stirred
By the sootfall of your things at bedtime,
Your head-down, tail-up hunt in a bottom drawer
For the black plunge-line nightdress.

Today, I read the poem ‘The Skunk’ with my pupils. It is one of my favourite romantic poems and my students loved it. It elicited a great discussion of what constitutes romance and I left class knowing that my students had personally connected with this beautiful poem.

In terms of being “romantic”, it is unconventional to say the least. The poet compares his wife to a skunk, which on the surface, is not the most flattering of comparisons. However, a deeper look at the poem reveals the affection and tenderness that is evident between the poet and his wife. I love it because it is not cliched; it is affectionately teasing and the comparison makes sense to them. His deep love and desire for his wife is obvious.

Heaney died last year at the age of 74. His last words, to his beloved wife, were in beautiful simple Latin: Noli timere, meaning “don’t be afraid”.

A Poetic Duet With JaneyBGood – “Vanquishing Doubt”

Here’s something a little different for you guys. For the last few days, I’ve been working on a poetic duet with none other than the fantastic TooFullToWrite. Together, we wrote something I am proud of. I have to thank him for his guidance with this and for helping me to realise that I can actually (at least attempt to) write poetry. Most of the credit here should go to him. Check out his work if you haven’t already, trust me, it’s worth it. Hope you enjoy this guys 🙂

toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

Hello dear friends, colleagues and Bob at the post office (hey there Bobby boy, keep keeping our mail safe big guy!)

Do I have a treat for you all.

(Wait, do I? Yes, of course I do, it was a rhetorical question, hence the crucial lack of a question mark, calm yourself down before you do yourself an injury please).

In my little bag of tricks, I’ve dug in deep, pulled out and fluffed up another poetic duet that I just finished up with yet another different duet partner.

For your viewing pleasure, I am proud to tell you that I had an absolute blast with my friend Janey over at Cupid or Cats.

Firstly – the Vorsprung durch Technik stuff. We used this Daily Prompt over at the WordPress vaults:-

Daily Prompt: Obstacle Course by Michelle W. on January 27, 2014.

Think about what you wanted to accomplish…

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Winner Of Provide The Caption #5

Look, I won a caption contest. And another time, I won a lollipop for tracing a picture of a rabbit. Everything’s comin up Janey!
Thanks The Sting of the Scorpion for recognising my obvious genius.

The Sting Of The Scorpion Blog (T.S.O.T.S.B.)

01 Apocalypse Cow 01

Caption Winner: janeybgood @ “Cupid Or Cats

Of course there is a bit of a back story to why the caption “Apocalypse Cow” was chosen unanimously (3-0 vote) by my children. They explained to me that out of 161 possible captions that were provided by many readers of The Sting Of The Scorpion that “Apocalypse Cow” was the hands down winner. Why? There were a few reasons, as it was pointed out to me, number one reason was because Apocalypse Now is my all time favorite movie and the fact that I can watch the entire movie on mute and can quote the entire movie. So, my children believed that because of the scenery in the picture that it reminded them of the movie so the choice was easy. They then modified the lower quote because over the years, when I’m grilling or smoking I said that very…

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A beautiful Irish ballad

Usually, I try to make you guys laugh…. and I fail, but the important thing is, I try. Today, I’m posting something that may make you cry.

This song was first played to me by a friend and I remember trying to hold back tears as the final verse played. I’ve since played it for my own students and they have also found it moving and poignant. It is a moving song about emigration and its effects not only on the people who have had to leave but also on the people left behind.

The song was written by two American men, Steven and Peter Jones. Their great-great-grandfather, Brian Hunt, had written letters from Kilkelly, Mayo, Ireland, to his son and their great-grandfather, John, who had emigrated to America in the nineteenth century.
The letters were found by the men in an attic in the United States and they were so overcome with emotion that they decided to write a song based on the content of the letters.

The writings revolve around local and family news being given to John by his father Brian. John had emigrated during the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1852 and the letters cover a period of time from 1860-1892. As Brian was illiterate, the local schoolmaster, Patrick MacNamara, wrote the letters down. His sense of isolation and loneliness at the loss of his family to emigration is obvious, but he remains jovial and kind in his letters.

Here is a beautiful performance of the song by Robbie O’ Connell and I’ve also included the lyrics. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 60, my dear and loving son John
Your good friend the schoolmaster Pat McNamara’s so good
As to write these words down.
Your brothers have all gone to find work in England,
The house is so empty and sad
The crop of potatoes is sorely infected,
A third to a half of them bad.
And your sister Brigid and Patrick O’Donnell
Are going to be married in June.
Your mother says not to work on the railroad
And be sure to come on home soon.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 70, dear and loving son John
Hello to your Mrs and to your 4 children,
May they grow healthy and strong.
Michael has got in a wee bit of trouble,
I suppose that he never will learn.
Because of the dampness there’s no turf to speak of
And now we have nothing to burn.
And Brigid is happy, you named a child for her
And now she’s got six of her own.
You say you found work, but you don’t say
What kind or when you will be coming home.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 80, dear Michael and John, my sons
I’m sorry to give you the very sad news
That your dear old mother has gone.
We buried her down at the church in Kilkelly,
Your brothers and Brigid were there.
You don’t have to worry, she died very quickly,
Remember her in your prayers.
And it’s so good to hear that Michael’s returning,
With money he’s sure to buy land
For the crop has been poor and the people
Are selling at any price that they can.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 90, my dear and loving son John
I guess that I must be close on to eighty,
It’s thirty years since you’re gone.
Because of all of the money you send me,
I’m still living out on my own.
Michael has built himself a fine house
And Brigid’s daughters have grown.
Thank you for sending your family picture,
They’re lovely young women and men.
You say that you might even come for a visit,
What joy to see you again.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 92, my dear brother John
I’m sorry that I didn’t write sooner to tell you that father passed on.
He was living with Brigid, she says he was cheerful
And healthy right down to the end.
Ah, you should have seen him play with
The grandchildren of Pat McNamara, your friend.
And we buried him alongside of mother,
Down at the Kilkelly churchyard.
He was a strong and a feisty old man,
Considering his life was so hard.
And it’s funny the way he kept talking about you,
He called for you in the end.
Oh, why don’t you think about coming to visit,
We’d all love to see you again.

Picture Source

Poem: A Christmas Childhood

This is a beautiful poem that I learned when I was in school that will punch you square in the feelings. It’s by poet Patrick Kavanagh and it’s called ‘A Christmas Childhood’.

My father played the melodion

Outside at our gate;

There were stars in the morning east;

And they danced to his music.

Across the wild bogs his melodion called

To Lennons and Callans.

As I pulled on my trousers in a hurry

I knew some strange thing had happened.

Outside in the cow-house my mother

Made the music of milking;

The light of her stable-lamp was a star

And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.

A water-hen screeched in the bog,

Mass-going feet

Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,

Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.

My child poet picked out the letters

On the grey stone,

In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland,

The winking glitter of a frosty dawn.

Cassiopeia was over

Cassidy’s hanging hill,

I looked and three whin bushes rode across

The horizon – the Three Wise Kings.

An old man passing said:

“Can’t he make it talk” –

The melodion, I hid in the doorway

And tightened the belt of my box-pleated coat.

I nicked six nicks on the door-post

With my penknife’s big blade –

There was a little one for cutting tobacco.

And I was six Christmases of age.

My father played the melodion,

My mother milked the cows,

And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned

On the Virgin Mary’s blouse.