Did you know you can subscribe to a “poem of the day” at the Poetry Foundation website? Every morning I get a new poem in my email, and I store them up like saving gift chocolates for a special occasion. When I write, I like to open a recent “poem of the day” and pick a line that catches my imagination. So many intriguing ideas or phrases have come out of this poetic exploration.
For instance, one of my stories that I wrote recently starts: “These eyes have never been enslaved.” Where did that line come from? Any guesses? I’ll bet some of my poet-friends will know. . . . .
. . . Lucille Clifton’s “Homage to My Hips.” <- (Click on this link to read it.) Do you know it?
. . . these hipsare free hips.they don’t like to be held back.these hips have never been enslaved,they go where they want to gothey do what they want to do. . . .
My story is about a young woman whose brother has “sold his eyes” to a gang-like organization to raise some quick money. Her family worries about her brother, who is becoming more distant and disturbed by the things he has to watch through his “enslaved eyes.” She says she would never sell her eyes, but she worries about her brother and what will happen to him. (It will be coming out soon on a UK science fiction journal e-publication …)
There is a poem by Nikki Giovanni called “A Poem on the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy” that goes, in part:
Trees are never felled . . . in summer . . . Not when the fruit . . .is yet to be borne . . . Never before the promise . . . is fulfilled . . .Not when their cooling shade . . . has yet to comfort . . .
Today I opened the children’s book of poetry by Kwame Alexander that I picked up last April, Out of Wonder. The poems in this book are written “to celebrate” other famous poets’s poems. In the book, Chris Colderley, one of the editors with Kwame Alexander, wrote a poem (“Snapshots”) celebrating Nikki Giovanni, which reads in part:
people forget . . . poetry is not just words on a page . . it is . . .a snowflake on your tongue . . a tattoo on the inside of your arm . . . a dashiki and a kaftan . . . tripping down the streets of Lincoln Heights . . . shouting from the hills of Knoxville, Tennessee . . .
Here is my poem after Nikki Giovanni’s poem.
When You Come in After Midnight
Parents are never silent . . . in life . . . not when you make . . . a mistake . . . Never “That’s all right,” . . . instead it’s . . . “I told you so.”
“You never listen,” . . . they say, frowned . . . or its twin . . . “You never learn” . . . when . . . what you need is . . . “I did that too,” . . . or “I understand.”
Everyone else’s parents . . . wore the understanding . . . faces . . .gave the . . . “I love you” . . . embraces . . . like the delicate brush. . . of a sun’s daylight kiss
With my own children . . . I try to be different . . . I listen . . . to their solo songs . . . to celebrate . . . their triumphs and their struggles . . . with compassion . . . and try not to say too much . . . or too little
– Theresa Barker