Is that a poem in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?

Via newport2newport (and yes, I’m going to sort those stamps and send them ANY DAY NOW . . . REAL SOON NOW . . . do you still do the workshops where you need them?):

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Share your favorite poem–or one you believe is widely applicable–today! Note to self: Be sure to wear pants/skirt with pocketses.

Now . . . which poem should I carry in my pocketses? What has it got in its . . . oops, never mind.

This one has remained etched in my memory since I first heard it–the day that my professor, Dr. John Skoyles at SMU (now of Emerson College), passed it around in our poetry workshop as an example.
Bus Stop by Donald Justice

Lights are burning
In quiet rooms
Where lives go on
Resembling ours.

The quiet lives
That follow us—
These lives we lead
But do not own—

Stand in the rain
So quietly
When we are gone,
So quietly . . .
And the last bus
Comes letting dark
Umbrellas out—
Black flowers, black flowers.

And lives go on.
And lives go on
Like sudden lights
At street corners

Or like the lights
In quiet rooms
Left on for hours,
Burning, burning.

(Yes, this is where I stole the image of the black flowers blooming as Ariadne looks down from the seventh-floor window at the riders getting off the bus in the rain.)

But that poem could confuse people who’ll say, “But nothing HAPPENS–it’s not ABOUT anything.” Let’s settle on something short. (Also handed around by Dr. Skoyles. Had an incredible effect on me, as my dad had died a couple of years before and the scars were still bleeding.)
Elegy (Alan Dugan, 1963)

I know but will not tell
you, Aunt Irene, why there
are soapsuds in the whiskey:
Uncle Robert had to have
a drink while shaving. May
there be no bloodshed in your house
this morning of my father’s death
and no unkept appearance
in the living, since he has
to wear the rouge and lipstick
of your ceremony, mother,
for the first and last time:
father, hello and goodbye
No, something more uplifting.

Everyone already knows Frost: “Birches” (“One could do worse than be a swinger of birches,” the line I used to win a 5 on the AP English exam so many years ago), “The Road Not Taken,” “Stopping By Woods,” and “Window Tree” (“That day she put our heads together,/Fate had her imagination about her,/Your head so much concerned with outer,/Mine with inner, weather.”)

Frank O’Hara, Langston Hughes, James Tate, e. e. cummings . . . any of them so worthy of your attention.

But, anyhow, let’s do the lighter stuff.
One you don’t see too often, from Ogden Nash.

Always Marry An April Girl

Praise the spells and bless the charms,
I found April in my arms.
April golden, April cloudy,
Gracious, cruel, tender, rowdy;
April soft in flowered languor,
April cold with sudden anger,
Ever changing, ever true —
I love April, I love you.


Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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