(a found poem, with minor edits)
Out of all the people
I could think to be my dad,
you fall into that category easily.
Thank you for making me
grilled cheese sandwiches
so I don’t die.
All around people love you
(the person in front of you,
your lodge buddies, your
workspace friends, etc.);
you know I don’t have
to explain that one.
You’re like a gallon of
chocolate milk–you’re sweet,
and love to have a breakfast.
Your skill with music
Thank you for helping me
through the tough parts
of growing up. In the scary
room you will find a special
treat. When we have
each other we have
everything. You are simply
amazing and life would
be different in a bad way
without you. When I am
playing upstairs when
the dirty girls are over,
I think, wow, their music
is coming along and it’s
enjoyable. You have always
been a kind and loving person
in my life. We are so lucky
to have the house we live in
and the Tanas and Rubies
we have, the bread that goes
on the table because you worked
hard and got what we need
to survive in this cruel world.
But all this just makes the world
less cruel. I loved you yesterday,
I love you still, I always have,
I always will.
Don’t facebook this shit xoxo.
The title of this little blog post, I realize, is deceptive. Please know that you will not find included herein 100 poems by a person named April. Rather, it is my hope and goal (hence, this public announcement) to write my 100th blog poem by April 1. My rationale is, initially, silly. In April of 2013 I participated in the National Poetry Writing Month by writing a poem a day every day in the month of April. For some reason, I think, maybe to distinguish the poetry from other things decidedly NOT poetry, I decided to number these poems. 1 through 30. But then I kept writing poems. And I kept numbering them. I just posted #73. And my secret (now public) fear is that if I participate again in NaPoWriMo (which is my plan) I will find myself in the unenviable position of writing poem number 93 on the 17th day of April. That’s just not good. So the silly reason for writing 100 poems by April 1 is so that on April 1 I can post poem #101 and on the 3oth of April I can post poem #130.
The second reason for writing 100 poems by April 1 is simply to have written 100 poems in a year’s time. I’ve said this before. I don’t know if they’re good poems. Because mostly they’re written quickly, they may read kind of like Anne Lamott’s concept of the shitty rough draft. And because they’re public, they may not “delve” in the way some of the best poetry delves. In other words, there may be subjects I’ve avoided, or incidents of self-censorship I’ve allowed. There may be artful risks I’ve side-stepped. All of this may be true, but it’s still a pretty cool thing to say you’ve written 100 poems in a year, and if I’m able to do this, I’ll be able to say it. I’ll say, hey, I’ve written 100 poems in a year. Cool.
So, if I just posted #73, I will need to write 27 new poems in February and March. Over two months, it’s about half of what I will do in April. It will be good exercise, I think. And maybe you can help. Do you have any suggestions? Are there kinds of poems or subjects that would amuse you in a Michael Jarmer composition? Let me know. Seriously. Really. Please. I have my work cut out for me anyway, but without your help, I may have even more work cut out for me.
Sor Juana Inéz de la Cruz
He’s teaching a poem during the study
of 17th century American literature
by Sor Juana Inéz de la Cruz,
a brilliant poet, Catholic nun,
living in what was then called
New Spain, and crafting these
beautiful poems about the power
of intellect and about surviving
a broken heart.
He’s teaching one of those poems,
yes, just as he began the course with
a study of Native American myth,
because he wants to expand
the notion and broaden the borders
of American literature.
And Mexico is a part of us, he thinks,
not only because our ancestors
stole a great deal of it,
like they stole nearly everything
on and in this great continent,
but because 37 million Americans
are native Spanish speakers and
a few of those are learners
in his classroom.
So he’s given the poem to students
in English on one side
and in Spanish on the other side.
He reads the English and afterwards
says how wonderful it would be if someone
would volunteer to read the Spanish.
A lively and enthusiastic Latino boy
reads the poem out loud, faltering a little,
but more or less, he gets through it effectively.
But the boy, despite his more than adequate
performance, admits immediately after
that he understood none of what he’d just read.
And when the American English teacher
follows up by asking a girl, one of his best
students, but also a girl of color,
if she understood the Spanish
better or worse than the English,
she says to him, in all seriousness,
“I don’t speak Spanish.”
And the lesson he learns
in his effort to be inclusive
is that just because the work
is in Spanish doesn’t mean it will
make more sense to a Spanish speaker,
and just because a student’s ethnicity
matches the language of the culture in question
doesn’t mean the student speaks said language.
And so in his effort to be more inclusive,
he has perhaps alienated a kid
who can’t read his own language and
another kid who can’t even speak it.
Live and learn, he thinks.
Apologize, live and learn.