The Painted Poem Giveaway: Five Finalists (In Verse)

There were so many good suggestions made here in response to the prior Giveaway Post that I decided to pick my five favorite responses, write poems for all five of them, and then work with Paige to pick which one of these most inspires her artistically, before she puts paint to canvas. I did it this way because it’s hard for me to know where a poem might end, even if I know where it starts, so I wouldn’t want to tackle just one, without giving other ideas a chance to blossom from their core kernels. There’s some whimsy here, and perhaps a little bit of bittersweet (both strong Southern emotions), and some things might not have gone in the direction that the suggesters actually had in mind (“Navigator” most especially), but, then, that’s probably what makes it all fun. Thanks to everybody who made a suggestion, and a special thanks to our finalists, noted below, for coming up with the things that actually made it easy for the words to flow out of me. Paige and I will make the final decision over the weekend, and announce the winner of the painting on Monday, chosen from one of the five poems below.

1. PIFFLE AND TRIPE (suggested by Ellen)

“Piffle and tripe and balderdash!”
roared Lord MacCormack, his purple sash
rucked up beneath his ample chin,
as he pounded his desk again and again.
“Codswollop, blarney and twaddlerot!”
the good Lord raged, his temper hot,
his anger roused by news reports
of politics and sex and sports.
“Bosh, bunk, claptrap, bull and fudge!”
MacCormack the day’s events soundly judged,
while flinging his papers across the room,
and gesturing angrily into the gloom.
(His manservant, Roger, knew this was the cue
to roll in the cart, with the buns and the stew).

2. NAVIGATOR (suggested by Roxy C.)

navigator, take us home again
past equator, prime meridian
course creator, plotter of the wind
arbitrator of the journey’s end

navigator, take another fix
skilled translator of the heavens’ tricks
maybe later, trim the candle wicks
as our freighter plies the mouths of Styx

navigator, take us home again,
sailing traders, hauling souls of men

3. FORGIVENESS (Suggested by Christine)

Can I remember? Well, I don’t really know,
it was a very long time ago.
(God, I was just a child,
so careless and reckless and wild).

It felt important at the time, I recall,
though on looking back now, it seems small.
(God, I was just so young,
I didn’t know what I had done).

The details flicker, there’s some pleasure and pain,
none of which I would go through again.
(God, I was just a boy,
in search of some comfort and joy).

Can I remember? Well, I probably could,
but forgetting it seems just as good.
(God, I was just a kid,
forgive me for the things I did).

4. SPREADSHEETS (Suggested by Jam)

I think that I shall never see
a program grand as 1-2-3
(from Lotus), on a floppy disc,
‘fore Excel was ubiquitous.
On DOS it ran, upon a screen
of eyeball-burning black and green,
its simple set of slash commands
accommodated my demands.
It did its job, and did it well,
with half the features of Excel,
though all those things I now can do,
I never find a reason to.
So happy, yes, I’d truly be
if my PC ran 1-2-3.

5. IN THE KITCHEN WITH ALMA (Suggested by Katie)

Alma rose at dawn to make the biscuits,
kneading lard into the baker’s flour,
rolling sheets and cutting discs for baking;
it took her just a bit more than an hour.

At which point, Alma turned to make the stuffing:
sausage, cornbread, broth and butter, nuts.
She pulled the neck and gizzard from the turkey,
(which, with the heart, she thought the sweetest cuts).

She filled the bird and stitched it tight for roasting,
then with a jar of cloves, she dressed the ham,
and pressed the honey from the comb she’d purchased,
to sweeten up her famous candied yams.

While collards stewed in bacon fat and bullion,
Alma snapped the beans and okra too,
then shucked the corn, (the Silver Queen she favored),
which, paired with shrimp, went in her Frogmore Stew.

By sunset, Alma’s work had been completed,
the family blessed their meal on bended knees.
An awkward silence followed, ‘til her son said
“How come there ain’t no Stouffer’s Mac an’ Cheese?”

(All poems Copyright 2010, J. Eric Smith.)

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