This is a poem my sweet mother, the greatest writer I know, wrote in 2003. It deserves to be shared.
Maybe there were too many green-soldier
men stacked in closets, then rustled down
from shoe-boxes – green soldiers from
the Buster Brown shoebox versus
green soldiers deployed from the Ked’s shoebox.
Maybe there were too many “choose sides”
backyard football games where
boys sized each other up, salivated
for the win, gripped that pigskin
like it was a leather god.
Bullies were born in school halls or
afternoon playgrounds where push and shove
became tug-of-war for childhood warlords
establishing mini-territories they would carry in their back pockets along with the
tattered baseball card of Mickey Mantle,
or the tiny gray frog they thought could live
in the dark of their jeans’ pocket, at least
until they were called to supper and wandered
home to roast beef, carrots, potatoes,
biscuits warm from the oven and, of course,
These are the leaders of our country – boys
with frogs in their pockets and
rockets’ red glare in their eyes.
And these boys have issued an ultimatum to Tommy Bilbrey in Fourth Period English
he stares straight ahead at chalkboard words.
Meet us out back after school – or else.
Some days I’m a writer.
Some days I’m a dreamer.
But on the rare days that I’m both,
That’s it. That’s when it’s magical.
Life was passing by much too fast. She was not making enough of each day. And their collective sums were lackluster and insignificant.
The sheer force of how fast each minute and day and week and month was sweeping by left her feeling shocked and choked.
Like the wind had been knocked out of her.
Like she couldn’t breathe.
But wanted to, more than anything else in the world.
Whoever said “actions speak louder than words” was not a writer.
I cannot overstate the importance of a moment. A brief hiatus to catch your breath. To let out a heavy sigh. To curl up in an oversized chair.
A moment with a fat round glass of red wine. A blank piece of paper and a favorite pen. A new page in a word document. A new font to go along with it.
A moment to gather your thoughts. To fumble through all the inspirations the day has gifted you. To jot down the starting points. The brilliant opening lines and character names. The underused words you stumbled upon like bacchanalia and davenport and euphonious.
A moment to capture all the details you can put to use. A short Brit with a lisp. A goldfish bowl filled with paper fortunes. A missing cat named Mosey. The sound of wiper blades on a dry windshield. A fleeting moment of déjà vu in the shower. A fading dream. A growing nightmare. An old email from when you first fell in love.
This will be the only time you have. To cater to your dream. To draft something delightful. To give yourself a chance.
You were meant to write the world a story. It’s time to create a moment for yourself.
On a record-breaking fiery day in early July, I came to the realization that I have a story to tell.
I will not take it to my grave. I’ll slit my wrist and let the words gush from my veins. I won’t stop until my body is bone dry. Until journals are busting at the seams. And cocktail napkins are wet with fresh ink. Until notebooks are overstuffed and bloated. And every last pencil is worn down to just a nub.
And this story, my story, is heard.
Sometimes I’m told I am gifted with words. But I see them coming together in sentences and structures and jargon and poems and prose and think – No, no no. It’s the words that are gifted.
They are the music. I cannot help but sing along.