Poetry has always been an important part of my life. From the first “Fuzzy Wuzzy Was a Bear,” to this year’s “The Iliad” (only part of it – don’t think too highly of me), I have enjoyed its rhythm, its imagery, its music. I have cried over some stories and pictures, and have almost grieved with jealousy over word pictures I know I could never put together.
But when I was in high school I found a book of poetry that changed my life. It was entitled something meaningful like, “The Book of Humorous Poetry.” There ya go. It held the works of some of my heroes of the art: Ogden Nash, Robert William Service, and – believe it or not – Yeats. Today I number Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, and my son among my humorous poetry heroes.
It was with that book in hand that I memorized my first poem, by A. E. Housman:
“Hallelujah!” was the only observation
That escaped Lieutenant-Colonel Mary Jane,
When she tumbled off the platform in the station,
And was cut in little pieces by the train.
Mary Jane, the train is through yer:
We will gather up the fragments that remain.
Now THAT’S quality rhyme, right there….. While everyone else is memorizing “If” or “Invictus,” I’m reciting, “We will gather up the fragments that remain.” Totally grossed my mother out, an added bonus.
The best part about poetry is its freedom. Even rule-laden styles like haiku don’t limit your topics. In haiku, you have three lines – the first and last lines have 5 syllables, the middle line has 7. So throughout my day, I can respond to my circumstances with something other than grunts, shouts, or raised blood pressure. I can just DO HaiKU!
Long line of brake lights
Where did all these cars come from?
Starbucks drive-thru time
Monsters in the seats
Aliens calling, “Ms. Smith!”
Think I’ll change my name
Hungry, oh hungry
Why is the table empty?
OH! My turn to cook!
My son and I have exchanged long back-and-forth emails consisting solely of haiku. I emailed him just now and said I needed a good one for the blog, did he have anything? I finish with his response:
I need a haiku
Keep writing, no words come out
Keeping my day job