FRESH FROM THE INKWELL

2 POEMS ON FATHERHOOD

June 24, 2016

Tags: father, dad, memory, childhood, the sea, England, Isle of Wight, birthday, parody, death anniversary, journalism, pockets, father daughter relationship, memory, Father's Day

I may have posted these before, but now is a good time to share again, between Father's Day and Dad's death anniversary. It just occurred to me that he would have been 100 this year!
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A POCKETFUL OF PENNIES

My father never learned to drive a car.
His pockets rattled with loose change, not keys
Whenever he gave armchair pony rides,
Four giggling children on two jiggling knees.
Coins came in handy for his magazines,
Tobacco, tickets on the daily bus,
Occasional ice cream cones or Bounty bars
And favorite weekly comic books for us.
How could I then, how could I even think
Of acting on my friend Georgina’s dare
To help myself? She did it all the time,
Stole from her mother’s purse without a care.
I spied Dad’s trousers hanging on the door,
Dipped in and found a dozen pennies bright;
But guilt sank to my stomach like a stone.
I slid them back, and oh, my heart was light
When Dad came home; he twirled me, jingling loud,
Then after supper tucked me up in bed.
He told us made-up tales of Harold Hare
And slipped a coin beneath each pillowed head.

© Hazel Spire
Homeward Tracks 2004
First published in a Christian Writers booklet, UK
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MUSICIAN, CHIEF REPORTER, DAD (after Whitman)

O father, my mentor, our crossing’s nearly done,
Taking my widowed mother home to the Island.
I twenty-two, she forty-four, you fifty-five:
Don’t you love poetic irony? The rain that kept
Fishers ashore lashes the ferry windows.
We sit below in the crowded tea bar,
Tourists’ voices grating on our ears.
Stop! Wait! How can the world
Go on its merry way
When Dad lies on a mortuary slab?

Captain of our family, for you the organ groans
As we gather in your name, bright floral tributes
Filling Bob’s black Daimler. “We’ll do our best job
For you,” he says in gentle local brogue.
“Can’t be early for his own funeral,” quips his son.
“Drive around the block another time.” You’d
Appreciate the humor, you who ran for trains and buses.
The crematory mechanism judders, transporting you
Behind red velvet curtains. No! Too soon!

O father, writer, friend, you could not swim, but strolled
Along the pier at night reciting Shakespeare to the waves.
For you the gulls are keening as the sea keeps rolling in.
When the paper is put to bed this week, the press
Will run again. But stop—the chief reporter’s dead.
Did you who taught the Girls’ Brigade to triple-tongue
Hear a bugle call from distant shores?
My brothers still play soccer, but long legs
That showed them dribble, kick, and GOAL
Have crossed the line to our eternal home.


© Hazel Spire
Tapestry of Time, 2006

A LITERARY CRUISE

July 1, 2013

Tags: college, student, cruise, world lit, reading, literature, English, professor, grades, Flaubert, Wordsworth, Tennyson, Tolstoy, study, Norton anthology, blank verse, iambic pentameter, journey, parody

Like my father before me, I enjoy reading and writing parodies! This one is based on Tennyson's poem "Ulysses" which I memorized in high school. Keeping the meter and structure of the original, I adapted its theme to a world lit class I took in Texas.

A LITERARY CRUISE
with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson

It little profits that a student mom,
By this hot stove, amid these scattered toys,
I dole out Popsicles to neighbor kids.
I cannot rest from reading. I devour
Words like a worm. All time I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
Who studied English with me and alone.
When Emma strolled through Rouen with her love,
Or Ivan lay cold in his coffin, I
Was there; with Wordsworth I beheld the Lakes;
I cried as Matryona's home broke up.
For always reading with a hungry heart,
Much have I seen and known, much tragedy
In Greece, Japan, Algeria, and France,
From Gretchen's dungeon dark to Room Nineteen.
Still in those titles yet unread there gleams
A promise of untravel'd realms ahead.
How dull it is to pause or make a C.
To know we could do better with more time!
Our sight grows dim, but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note may yet be read.
There lies the book, the Norton Anthology,
With Van Gogh's face imploring. Come, my friends.
'Tis not too late to turn another page;
Peruse the text, and do not fear to state
Your true opinions; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the syllabus, and read
The whole anthology before I die.
It may be that the themes will tax our brains.
It may be that we must repeat the course
Back here with Dr. Perkus, whom we knew.
Though much is tested, much abides, and though
We are not now so fresh and starry-eyed,
Our lives are richer for this literature.
And so we shall read on, but summer's here.
The pool looks cool; I'm cutting class; goodbye!

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© Hazel Spire
Published in Homeward Tracks, Dallas 2004.