Wednesday, March 31, 2010
This poem is a mix of styles. I played with alliteration, metaphor, and simile. Does writing a poem from a children's perspective make it a poem for children? I have been wondering how to find the voice in a poem for children that is not overly fake or adult. Will adults read poetry about childhood? The best children's poetry I have read have humor. Do children read poetry that is not humorous? These are some of the questions I've considered as I wrote this poem about my Grandfather and his basement office; an workroom he developed when he retired from ministry as a pastor to sell Christian books. One of the secret doors in the poem was his office full of preaching books and theology references buried like a time capsule behind the laundry room wall-- that will wait for another poem.
I tip toe past the stale kitchen,
through the dingy door, and down
the worn wooden steps, like tree roots,
to Grandpa’s burrowed den-- its glowing arms
protect him from the bottles and boxes
of the darker basement’s lair
the drizzling laundry drain, three secret doors,
and a drawbridge for the dragon
named Chevrolet, who feeds on scarlet
berry bushes that growby the driveway.
An old typewriter parks in the back corner.
The keys go click, clack, cluck
and click, tack, tuck-stuck
when I press too many at once.
An iron owl stares at me from its gargoyle perch,
when I write stories about bears making
friends and having adventures.
I sit on an old orange rug playing dead on the floor
harmless yarn, it minds me of an old tabby cat.
Piles upon piles of his former friends
look like shabby lion skins tied to Grandpa's thorny throne.
His desk is decked with handles on drawers,
files, pigeon holes, stacked shelves--
a faltering alter of white paper and black ink--
ink scribbles in a hundred flying voices.
Empty envelopes nest and flutter like white birds,
their coos mix with voices from an unseen audience
black and red faces and flags of all nations
hanging in a battered bag of postage stamps.
Grandpa dangles a gold dagger
its point catching the bare bulb’s light.
He slices evenly, ripping an envelope
through the gullet.
Grandpa, were you a pirate? I ask him.
His eyes twinkle and he lets loose a smile.
I was always a fisherman,
a fisher of men.