Monday, July 11, 2011

Memory Poems

Several of the poetry exercises we have worked on during the course of the workshop have centered on memory and the past. In these samples from workshop members, the first poem recalls the feelings that a particular memory invoked, whereas the second is known as a "sliding door" poem, reflecting on how life might have been altered had the poet acted differently.

Locks of Love (Morgan Katz)

I lost 8 inches of hair
This past May.

I donated it to women
Who have cancer
And have lost hair
From the treatment.

I felt a great sense of accomplishment
After my hair was cut off.
I felt as if I
Were as heroic as Superman.

I wanted to help people
Who are less fortunate than I,
For I can not imagine
What it would be like
To have no hair.

What Pain Is (Alison O'Connor)

“You think she’s in pain”, Mr. Gumb said. “You don’t know what pain is. You hurt her and I’ll scald you.”

----Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb (The Silence of the Lambs (p. 305)

If I hadn’t drawn Jame Gumb
A serial killer from my novel
I wouldn’t have felt the pain he
Told his victim she didn’t know.
If I hadn’t sketched him in agony
as his victim held his poodle hostage
at the bottom of the well in hopes of escape
If I hadn’t drawn Jame Gumb teary eyed and furious
Making and screaming threats to scald his victim
He wouldn’t have exacted his heated threat on me.

The killer wouldn’t have haunted the Pyrex
Measuring cup I held the next day
Causing it to gravitate away from the boiling
Steaming kettle, splattering water
Scalding my left hand.

If I hadn’t drawn Jame Gumb
He wouldn’t have a reason
Or a toy poodle to scald for.
I would have made myself
Herbal iced tea, would have used
The recipe from the Barefoot Contessa
I secretly claim is my own
Would have sipped the sweet nectar
Instead of forming a potent addiction to coffee

I wouldn’t have felt the cusses and yelps
Bubble over out of my panicked throat
If I hadn’t scalded myself
I would have avoided those blistering
Ice cubes over the searing heat
In the dead of summer afternoon’s
Temperature rising all around the kitchen

I wouldn’t have been driven to the hospital
All the while too nauseated to look at the missing skin
The gaping second degree burn my left hand
Held like a sagging load.
I wouldn’t have been crying to myself
Pleading and hoping a doctor or nurse
Would come and see me, fix things fast.

I wouldn’t have held the debate
In the crowded emergency room
With mom over whether or not
The Shining was a great film.

If I hadn’t scalded myself
My family would have eaten tilapia---
Ted’s dinner choice---Instead of salmon
My parents and brother would have
Munched popcorn as Jack Bauer
Dismantled bombs.

No, we all watched Ordinary People
Turned out the lights
My mom repeatedly sobbing.

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