Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Spontaneous Poem, Monday Sept. 14th

From: Keith Badowski
Sent: Monday, September 14, 2009 8:32 AM
To: Linda Ames
Subject: Monday Poetry Challenge?

Hi Linda:

How about giving me a poetry challenge for today?

As for challenges/prompts, anything goes: strange topic, specific form, an image, a question, a first line, phrase that must be used, a reference that must be included, etc.

If you don't mind, let's not go with random words like the last couple have.
I need a break from that angle if possible.

Thanks in advance!


From: Linda Ames
To: Keith Badowski
Subject: RE: Monday Poetry Challenge?
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 2009 10:55:23 -0400

A phrase: "The Pain Royal" (or if you prefer, "A Royal Pain") and here is the further suggestion.

I was recently photographing a cemetery in Turner County. Among the gravesites were several children’s graves with just their names and no date: Daniel Lee, Estell, Oscar, Ruby, Ruth, and Willie - "At Rest".

I thought about doing a poem, but have not yet been inspired to write since I'm more involved in some focused genealogy research.

So, I hope this helps inspire something for you.

Thanks, Linda

For the Children ‘At Rest’ in a Turner County Cemetery by Keith Badowski

Deep beneath the stage of soil
Amenities exclude signposts
Numberless apartments swapped around
Inside an inky womb for always
Earthen playground where giggles burrow
Loam for breakfast, loam for lunch

Layers of unconsciousness, layers of unsaids
Erosion of baby teeth, of cartilage
Eyelashes engulfed into earthworms

Egg of Eve expended
Spade cuts the soil, spill pours down
Tobacco roots drape like a tassel
Exchange this embryo for an embankment
Locket for the pocketless
Lace folded with the linen

Open the door on otherwise
Suppose Oscar was your brother
Cape wearer, candy welsher
Ambitious academic but admirably available
Reverse such regard—God refused it

Raise this radiant rock
Up unscathed
Before the tinkling bell of belief
Yes, Yahweh, I yearn for my young

Rack after rack of remaining rations
Unschooled in kitchen utensils
Tablecloth, teapot, teaspoon, sand-timer
Hunger alone inhabits her household

Well read, well spoken, well know, well-to-do
In the in-crowd of innocents
Laughs, larks, licorice, and lightning bugs
Lips to lick and legs to limber
Invitation to such an inventive island where
Every dead child is equipped for his extended family

Note: These were mostly completed yesterday, but I didn’t have time to type them and slightly tweak them until this morning. I love alliteration--way too much for my own good! Throughout the writing of these, I flipped through a Dictionary one letter at a time to find words with the same first letter that make interesting lines together. The idea to make a collection of acrostic poems that spell the names Linda gave me probably came from the fact that acrostics were among the earliest type of poem I remember writing. One of my elementary school teachers taught acrostics to me and set all us kids to writing them, using our own names as the starting point. Since these are poems about the names of children on graves, I instinctively thought I ought to use the form I learned first in childhood. I imagine most of these verses though are in the voice of the surviving parents.

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