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Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2007 06:01 am

People's poetry

Jacqueline Jackson presents

Untitled Document lakepoem #12

this is being a summer of filth
oh sure the lake is beautiful
the swimming still superb
and outside the screen porch
I can watch from my bed
the little red squirrels frolic
fight chitter-chatter along the
hemlock branches but during
the winter these cuties got in
made nests in drawers tore up
blankets sweat shirts pulled out
mattress stuffing strewed
newspaper shreds everywhere
tipped spices onto the stove
baptized all the dishes cupboards counters with their droppings
bad bad but isn’t this now home
they’re still living here
we’ve tried to find and plug the holes it’s a state of siege when one is trapped inside it leaps from desk to mantle
screen to screen on the porch
in amazing long graceful arcs
daring vermin on a flying
trapeze my grandson admires says
when I’m reincarnated I’m
coming back as a squirrel

 
© Jacqueline Jackson 2007


There is a type of poem, the Found Poem, that records an author’s discovery of the beauty that occasionally occurs in the everyday discourse of others. Such a poem might be words scrawled on a wadded scrap of paper, or buried in the classified ads, or on a billboard by the road. The poet makes it his or her poem by holding it up for us to look at. Here the Washington, D.C., poet Joshua Weiner directs us to the poetry in a letter written not by him but to him.
Found Letter
What makes for a happier life, Josh, comes to this: Gifts freely given, that you never earned; Open affection with your wife and kids; Clear pipes in winter, in summer screens that fit; Few days in court, with little consequence; A quiet mind, a strong body, short hours In the office; close friends who speak the truth; Good food, cooked simply; a memory that’s rich Enough to build the future with; a bed In which to love, read, dream, and re-imagine love; A warm, dry field for laying down in sleep, And sleep to trim the long night coming; Knowledge of who you are, the wish to be None other; freedom to forget the time; To know the soul exceeds where it’s confined Yet does not seek the terms of its release, Like a child’s kite catching at the wind That flies because the hand holds tight the line.

Poem copyright © 2006 by Joshua Weiner. Reprinted from From the Book of Giants (University of Chicago Press, 2006) by permission of the author. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Ted Kooser served as the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2004-2006. For more information, go to www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.
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