Poetry Workshop Results

img_1331Saturday I helped lead a poetry workshop at the 2017 Holly Springs Arts Festival with my friends and fellow poets Tara Lynne Groth and Chris Abbate. Tara Lynne passed around some old postcards to inspire our poems and I demonstrated how to use dice and a Roget’s Thesaurus to get random prompts. Chris told us about autobiographical poetry and had us make a memory map which we then used to write a poem.

Here’s what I wrote with minor revisions. It’s as true as any of my poetry.

My appendix perforated
and it was worth the pain
to miss two weeks
of high school
in January 1981
extending Christmas vacation.

I recuperated in pajamas
and a recliner,
playing Circus Atari,
thick pixel clowns
smashing square balloons,
8-bit splats when I failed.

To my surprise
I felt a strange
damp warmth in my lap
and found viscous fluid
the color of aged leather
oozing from my incision.

Home, alone, afraid to move,
for fear my guts would spill
out if I walked to the phone,
fixed to the wall, and rotated
the clickety dial to call
for help.

 

Obviously I survived.
The wound resealed
after the goo had gone.
My scar remains
and the story
was worth the pain.

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World Without Consequences

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“Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.”
~ Barry Switzer

They had every advantage
and took them all.

Every birthday car, provided.
Every speeding ticket, fixed.
Every drunken accident, forgotten.

They never worked a day
they didn’t want
to at daddy’s company.
Strolling in whenever,
comfy corner offices
where they play businessman
over long lunches with cocktails
and go home when bored,
while their underlings,
promoted on merit,
make them more money.

They grew up in a world without consequences
and believe it’s the nature of the universe
but Daddy won’t fix the overheated climate
like he did the bad grades and damaged hookers.

Their birthright silver spoons
have tarnished their tongues.
Who’s going to finally spank
these spoiled rich kids?

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Hero’s Lament

Andromeda by Paul Gustave Doré

Andromeda by Paul Gustave Doré

The rail lies cold against my ear,
listening not for a train
but hoping to hear the muffled
cries of a damsel in distress.

Sensing none, I follow the tracks
to the industrial warehouses,
hoping to find a brave and beautiful
reporter suspended over a vat of acid.

But these days the trains don’t run,
villains silence the press with lawyers
and I’ve learned that gratitude
fades with the morning dew

and a hero’s scars are just plain ugly
in the harsh light of every day.

 

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Ancestral Fudge

15644675_10154929608664429_1013541167_nMy grandfather Barker fell seriously ill when my father was just a boy and while he survived, he did not recover sufficiently to go back to work thus my grandmother got a job and Grandpa did the cooking for the family. He taught my father and my father tried to teach me but I don’t have much interest in the art of food preparation, just consumption.

There is, however, one exception, so last night I finally spent time learning how make Barker’s Peanut Butter Fudge at the side of the Master. That batch turned out great, smooth, chewy and peanut buttery. So to reinforce what I learned I tried again, this time solo. The results (pictured) were not as promising but still a tasty failure. I’ll try again soon.

This little episode is only mentioned as an introduction to my new Genealogy page, which also appears in the blog menu above. The links therein will take you to a human readable form of my genealogical data. While I am keeping track of all my living relatives, the links only reveal information about dead ancestors. It is my hope that distant cousins will stumble across this site and we can exchange data.

I’ll be adding to the files as my research progresses but, just like with fudge, there’s always more to learn.

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Science Cafe: Beer

beer-1326297-639x1055Thursday December 8th, I’ll join my colleagues from Living Poetry at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for their latest Science Cafe. Erik Myers, the founder of Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough will be teaching us about the ancient and noble art of brewing beer and after his presentation we’ll be reading poems written during the show.

I must admit, I don’t care for beer. I’m more a red wine kinda guy so I’m interested to see what sort of poem I’m going to write.

Join us in Raleigh at 7pm or monitor the situation live on the museum’s YouTube channel!

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Something Inexpressible

tango-dancers-3-1200466Swirls of masked dancers,
barely aware themselves,
confused and competing,
leading, jostling, following,
no reason.

We dance to beat the heart,
to rush the rivers,
push the wind,
and fuel the fire
in our core.

We don’t know why,
we are merely motion,
just a body grasping
for something
inexpressible.


(The first draft of this poem emerged from a group exercise with the kind folks at Charles House, Chapel Hill. It underwent radical revision with a bottle of wine and further refinement at a workshop. Thanks to all my co-poets!)

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Pen and Paddle

img_20161029_125921This past Saturday my friend, fellow poet and co-organizer of Living Poetry, Tara Lynne Groth, hosted a Pen & Paddle on the Haw River in Alamance County, North Carolina. There were four writers who put kayak in water and paddled with the gentle current for a couple of hours, stopping only to eat lunch and do a little work.

Here’s what I produced, the proof being the first draft in the image to the right. This is the second draft. I’ll likely submit it to my monthly workshop. Thanks for organizing the adventure which produced this poem, TL!

 


 
Uproot me from this cluttered soil
divorce me from the earth.
I want to float and fly.
I want to glide and be gone.

I tire of the noise
from the road,
the twisted ankles
and broken knees
from clumsy gait,
eyes bouncing
unfocused to track
the horizon

Walking is bumpy
dislocating travel.
Let me cruise
downstream smooth.

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Our Little Secret

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This month’s Contemporary American Voices features the poetry of Bruce Lader, my workshop fellow and friend. When they selected him to be the featured poet, they asked him to recommend a few other poets and I’m honored that I was among those he chose. Many thanks to Lisa Zaran at C.A.V. for publishing three of my pieces, “This is class warfare and we’re losing”, “Our Little Secret” and “A World Without Eyes” and to Bruce for letting me ride his coattails!

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Knights of Essex

20161009_220057At the Sorbie reunion I attended a few months ago in Scotland, I learned that one of the “cousins” I met there lived in Colchester, England. I had suspected that one of my great great great grandfathers, Sebborn Gonner Knight, was born in Colchester so I asked her to take a look at the records when she had a chance. Since just about everybody at the family reunion was an enthusiastic and skilled genealogist, she was happy to oblige.

No stories from my Knight ancestry made it to my generation because Sebborn Gonner Knight and his wife Mary Elizabeth Parsons both died before their eldest son, the future Dr. J. C. Knight of Jonesboro, Indiana, was seven years old. I’m descended through J.C.’s little brother Charles who was orphaned at the age of four. All we knew was that Sebborn arrived on the ship Ontario in 1841 at the age of 21.

While no stories survived, one small book did, The Court of Persia, viewed in connexion with Scriptural Usages by John Kitto, D.D., published in London by The Religious Tract Society. It was given to S. G. Knight from his affectionate sister, S. A. K., February 20th, 1851. Yes, that’s my great great great grandfather’s autograph on the left.

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Thanks to my cousin Maggie, I now know that S. A. K. was Sarah Ann Knight, one of Sebborn’s older sisters. She was the fifth and he the seventh of eight children of George Knight and Sarah Gonner. George was a seedsman when he married Sarah in 1809 at St. Peter’s Church in Colchester. Sarah Gonner was listed as a spinster in the marriage record.

Maggie also discovered that George was born on January 20th, 1784 in Messing, Essex, to Joseph and Hannah Knight. His birth was listed in the Quaker meeting records and his father Joseph, who died in 1810, was buried in the Friends Burial Ground at Coggeshall, which is not far from where my kind and diligent researcher lives.

I am very fortunate to have so many Quaker ancestors who kept such detailed records and to have met so many good friends on my recent trip to Scotland. Thank you again, Maggie!

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Well Desserted

20160821_172401That chocolate sonnet of mine that Parody published last month just appeared on their blog. Check it out!

 

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