A poem in my pocket
The prompt today was either to write the experience of a poem carried around in a pocket all day or to write a poem about pockets. I’ve sort of split the difference here.
When my daughter was young, our favourite poems came from the books of Janet and Alan Ahlberg. They were probably the ones I read most to her, and the ones she read most to herself. I’ve tried to write something in that tradition. It is nowhere near their league but was fun to do.
A poem in my pocket
Vicky’s English teacher, Mr B,
has a thing about poetry.
He gave the class an exercise
to write a poem of twenty lines.
“It needn’t rhyme,” he said, at which
the class breathed a sigh of relief.
But… that night on the TV
was a double episode of Glee
so it wasn’t ‘til the bus next day
that she remembered Mr B’s
assignment. She tore a page
from Paige’s pad, borrowed a pencil
from Dru, thumped Tom who was trying
to sneak a kiss, and then sat
down to think. A poem. How hard
could that be? Well… it was.
Then, out the window she saw
a dog in a patch of daffodils.
That will do, she thought, at least
the two alliterate. She scrawled
a few lines, thought, and wrote some more,
chewed the pencil end (bad luck, Dru)
and finished as the bus reached school.
She folded the page of cursory
verse and poked it into her pocket.
English period was last that day
and only as she was on her way
did Vick think to unfold that page.
She couldn’t. Unfold it, that is.
The paper was glued to a half-chewed
sweet and covered in pocket lint.
It was torn from rubbing against
a stone that she’d picked up for art
and to cap it all off, an earlier run
through the football pitch sprinklers
had mushed the paper to felt.
That’s it, she thought, I’m dead. But Mr B
unknowingly gave her a second chance.
“The test of a true poet,” he said,
“is how they revise their own work.
So take the time to the end of class
to polish those poems of yours.”
Vick tried to recall the dog
and the daffs and the lines she’d composed
on the two but her mind was as blank
as the page that glared up from her desk.
she wrote the verse above these lines
(was shocked to find them so long)
and handed it in and shuffled out
with the fear of getting an F.
When back it came with the grade
B+ she was pleased but part ashamed
and vowed from then she’d do her work
and tape Glee for the weekend instead.
Well, what do you think? Was her grade