Poetry Friday: “Handsome Jack”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllWhat happens when you are sifting through computer files of photos from last fall, and stumble on one that makes you think, “Hey, this deserves a poem!” You write the poem, then and there!

Now, the problem with this scenario is that it’s almost 10:30pm and my brain is pretty much toast. But with a few minutes of thought, this came out of my head:

chest-hairHandsome Jack

The ladies love my body
for its rugged, manly size.
They love my smooth complexion
and never-wandering eyes.
My chest hair raises eyebrows,
my swagger gets me cheers –
alas, they leave when they learn
nothing’s ‘tween my ears.

– © 2016, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

This was the scarecrow I put together for the front of our house last October – and yes, I deliberately gave him chest hair. He seemed to like it. Every year I try to do something different – one year he was a farmer, one year he was a politician – and I’m not sure what I’m doing this year, but I have some ideas!

If you’d like to enjoy more poetry (and much BETTER poetry, I might add), then please visit Catherine at Reading to the Core for today’s Poetry Friday Roundup, where she’s featuring Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s brand-new Grumbles From the Town: Mother-Goose Voices With a Twist (WordSong, 2016)!

house

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Poetry Friday: Autumn haiku, 2016

Having spent my Labor Day Weekend working at the local fair (you can find out how dinosaurs, high-tech saw blades, and “battered savs” all tie into this by checking out this past Tuesday’s post), I’m in a sort of autumn mood…

antique-truck-haiku-graphic
Photo courtesy of Katherine Esenwine, (c) 2012 (Click to enlarge)

I’ve had this photo sitting in my computer files for four years (this was taken in early Oct. 2012), so I’m glad I finally put it to use!

poetryfridaybutton-fulllFor more poetry, be sure to visit Today’s Little Ditty, where Michelle H. Barnes is hosting Poetry Friday with her own contribution to a poetic challenge from the inimitable Jane Yolen!

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Revelations from the state fair, Vol. V

hsflogo-lg

Every Labor Day Weekend, I spend Friday through Monday working at the local state fair as the PA announcer, a position that requires not just a lot of talking, but a lot of walking and a whole lot of preparation.

It’s one of the most fun jobs I’ve had in my life, and I look forward to it every year. One minute I’m heading over to one of the small stage areas to double-check times or check out an act I hadn’t seen before; the next, I’m inside the administration building chowing down on a loaded baked potato piled high with every ingredient known to mankind.

(Trust me, when it comes to fair food, one needs to pace oneself.)

As has been tradition here at Triple R, I always share some of the things I’ve learned from each fair, because it’s not just an enjoyable work experience – it’s a learning experience, to boot. In the past, I’ve learned the most despised candies in the universe;  why environmentalists hate truck pulls; and even the best time to “smell” the fair.

So what nuggets of wisdom did I glean this year?

  1. The threat of a hurricane drives up Friday attendance. There was a lot of talk about whether or not Hermine would make it to the New Hampshire coast, and when. We were anticipating getting hit Sunday and Monday, the latter half of the fair, which is why I think our Friday ticket numbers were off the charts. As it turned out, Hermine never even made it, and we had a stupendous weekend all four days!
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  2. sandtasticSand used for sand sculptures is not normal beach sand. As Sandtastic Sand Sculpture Company’s sculptor (pictured) explained to me, the sand they use is comprised of faceted grains, which help the sand to wedge together and stick to itself. Conversely, beach sand is worn smooth from being tossed in the water and therefore is much more difficult to work with.
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  3. Speaking of sculpting…chainsaw sculptors use specially-designed chainsaws. I was chatting with Ben Risney, whose chainsaw
    risney-1
    (Click to enlarge)

    carvings are masterful, when he told me that some of his smaller chainsaws are custom-designed, industrial-grade. His larger saws are standard chainsaws, but the smaller ones, like the one pictured, have an angled bar and run at twice the RPMs of a normal chainsaw. The primary benefit of using a saw with such high RPMs is that the cuts are so smooth, he rarely needs to sand the sculptures once they’re completed! You can see Ben in action and more of his handiwork HERE.
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  4. “Battered Savs??” Who knew? corn-dogs
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  5. Some folks take their fried foods way more seriously than others. I was walking along a pathway when I overheard two young women chatting behind me. The conversation went something like this:
    “So, so sad.”
    “Yes, it is.”
    “Such a sad situation.”
    “Things like that just shouldn’t happen.”
    It was at that moment I realized they were talking about a piece of fried dough that lay on the ground; perfectly elliptical, not one bite had been taken out of it. I shed a tear, as well.
    .
  6. Saw blades are high-tech pieces of equipment. One of the many attractions at the fair this year were the Axe Women: Loggers of Maine, featuring championship women loggers competing in axe throwing, log rolling, cross-cut sawing, and a number of other events. I learned that their crosscut saw (bottom photo) is made in New Zealand of a special metal alloy that is strong and smooth – but is extremely sensitive to moisture; in fact, if the blade is not kept properly oiled, under very humid conditions it will start rusting within 30 minutes.
    axe-2  axe-1
    axe-3
    .
  7. Deep-fried pickle chips are superior to deep-fried pickle spears. This is not a decision I came to haphazardly; I spent a number of years researching the merits of each. You’re welcome.
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  8. dino-2 Dinosaur costumes are a lot heavier than they look. Really high-quality costumes, I should say. I had an opportunity to chat with John and Chance Bloom and their family, who run (among other things) a business called Dinosaur Xperience – which brings a walking, talking T-Rex right to your event.
    Chance told me the lifelike suit is 80-100 pounds, and contains a metal cage around the  head and thorax, which allows for

    dino-1
    Yes, even dinos need ID.

    electronically-controlled motion and sound. She can tolerate about 30-40 minutes inside the outfit before she needs to get indoors to cool off and re-hydrate…so thank goodness her husband and their 4 kids are all part of the act, helping her!

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Well, I hope you enjoyed this little review. It’s amazing the things one can learn at the fair – and spending so much time at this one allows me ample opportunity to discover things I might never notice otherwise. And for writers, learning and observing is crucial!

Until next time, have a good week! (and seriously, let me know your thoughts on the deep-fried pickles!)

risney-3
Some examples of Ben Risney’s work, which were featured around the fairgrounds.

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Poetry Friday: “Sunday afternoon, 1975”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllWell, I hope you enjoyed that little excursion into the past with my Throwback Summer series…many of you commented that you couldn’t believe I was willing to share poetry I’d written in high school and college, and my response is, “Hey, we all had to start somewhere!”

Granted, “Ode to a Dishrag,” “Ode to Lint,” and “Ode to a Poem I’m Writing Only Because I Couldn’t Think of Anything Else to Write About” were never Pushcart contenders…but I wanted to show readers how far one can develop through hard work, practice, and sheer determination.

As I always say, #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading!

Today we get back to my present-day writing, and the following is one of those poems I wrote specifically to submit to a journal. I’ve previously shared my thoughts about the value of submission requests as inspiration to write, and this was one of those cases; the journal was looking for poems about ice cream, so I put this together.

It was just a few weeks later that I went to the journal’s website and all references to this particular issue were removed, and even the contact person’s name was nowhere to be found. Sigh. Oh, well…no reason to let the poem go unread, right?

Sunday afternoon, 1975

Ice cream, again. One of them said
something wrong, I think, something the other
didn’t like;
I don’t know what. I don’t know why
they’re even here in front of the grocery store
instead of at home – one of our homes –
but we’re here, and people
I don’t know are looking
and all I can do is fight
a shiver in my chest. I try not
to make them mad, but it always happens
around this time
every second weekend.

Without warning,
mom snatches my hand and turns, walking
so quickly I can barely keep up; I turn my head
to look behind
and see dad, standing on the pavement
watching, arms
by his sides, right hand
angled in a half-wave
as if to say
he’s sorry
it’s ice cream again.

– © 2016, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Poetry Friday is being hosted by the one and only Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at The Poem Farm, so head on over for all of today’s poetry links, and learn more about a brand new book being published by the folks responsible for the Poetry Friday Anthology series, Pomelo Books!

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Poetry Friday: Throwback Summer concludes in “Stride”

Let me just tell you.. I am SO glad I didn’t need to come up with anything too long or witty for today’s post – I simply could not have done it.

poetryfridaybutton-fulllJust before 3pm on Thursday afternoon, I was ripping out part of our garden when I apparently disturbed a yellowjacket nest. I was promptly stung about 8 times, primarily on my scalp. Not fun.

Then, after my wife came home from work, we were eating dinner when the crown on my right front tooth fell out – and rather than relax for awhile, I was on my way into the city half an hour away to get to a pharmacy for crown repair cement. Doubly not fun.

And this is all happening the day before I begin a long, 4-day weekend as the PA announcer for the local state fair! Triply not fun.

I’ve been trying to maintain a positive attitude about all this (hey, at least I didn’t have a serious allergic reaction to the stings, right?), but in all honesty, I’ve had enough. I’m exhausted, and my bed is looking really good right now.

So with that said, I can now present the final installment of my Throwback Summer series, which started when I discovered my old high school journals and other papers in my parent’s attic.

Today’s poem was written in my college Creative Writing class, and I was still trying to get a handle on free verse at this point. I really liked rhyme and structure and that sort of thing, so free verse took some getting used to. And unlike most of the Throwback Summer poems I’ve shared here, this one isn’t too bad. Yes, it has its faults, but compared to everything that has come before…I think it holds its own…

Stride (poem)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down Memory Lane – it’s certainly been eye-opening for me, to recall what I was writing and doing back then. And it’s quite a relief, to know that my writing has gotten (marginally) better! Speaking of writing, Penny Parker Klostermann is hosting Poetry Friday today, so please stop by and check out all the links and fun!

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How I saved a butterfly, told the story in 10 words, and ended up on a blog

Just goes to show, one never knows from whence inspiration might come…

DMC_ColorMichelle H. Barnes over at Today’s Little Ditty is holding her “Ditty of the Month Challenge” writing prompt, and this month’s challenge follows her interview with children’s poet/author Diana Murray. Diana challenged blog readers to write poems based on unlikely heroes, and it took me nearly all month long to discover I was the hero I would eventually write about.

Our family was at a local farm over the weekend, and while inside the gardener’s shed I discovered my subject, having a very difficult time trying to get out of a plastic-sheeted window. When I got home, I wrote a haiku about it -and today, Michelle is featuring it on her blog! I hope you’ll stop by and check out my poem along with all the others…there are some very good poems there, written by many talented folks.

And by the way, I’ll be wrapping up my Throwback Summer series this coming Friday, with another one of my early free verse poems, that I wrote in my college Creative Writing class. It’s verbose and overdone, but not half-bad – so please come back  and let me know what you think!

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Poetry Friday: A little bit of “patience” during Throwback Summer

poetryfridaybutton-fulllAs I mentioned back at the beginning of summer, I’m sharing some “choice” tidbits from high school and college – and if you’ve read any of the past posts, you know I use the term “choice” extremely loosely. These poems were found in my parents’ attic while I was cleaning it out, and it’s been a veritable treasure trove of literary mediocrity.

That said, things took a turn for the (marginally) better last Friday, when I shared a poem I wrote in my college Creative Writing class. Now, with only two weeks left of “Throwback Summer,” as I call it, I am down to the best two poems I have from my early writing days.

Matt - 1990 St A
Talk about “Throwback”…who IS this guy? This was taken around the same time this poem was written, circa late-1990. I’ve since lost the glasses AND the hair…dang, I would’ve kept the glasses had I know the hair was part of the deal.

Today’s poem was actually written a little over a year after my college graduation. I was living on my own and was 6 months into my very first full-time job, ever, working for an AM/FM radio station group in St. Albans, VT.

For some reason, this poem was packed away with all my other papers from college, so I figured I’d include it, even though I had already had two poems published before I wrote this. (One of those poems, “Bantam, CT (July 1989),” was featured here this past February, and the other, “The Situation,” I shared last summer)

Like the other Throwback poems I’ve shared with you, there are many things I’d do to revise the following, but overall I don’t think it’s too bad for a 23-year-old guy who never considered writing poetry professionally! (Side note: Patience was the name of the woman I was dating at the time; the poem didn’t really have anything to do with her, but I liked the word and the imagery I came up with using it)

Patience

Cold, black dagger sweeps past
face;
separates now from then
so slowly cutting,
deeply,
intentionally…
…perfectly.
A study in constancy –
feel the pain,
crying;
each individual, steady slice
more deadly
than the previous, yet –
no blood.
No victim, really,
only harsh victimization;
sharp reality.
Second razor-weapon
follows lead of first –
cold and black, keeping perfect pace;
slower by threescore,
yet nevertheless
constant.
Blood-red pick sets beat,
for weapons
and I
to follow;
my weapon (neither
dagger nor pick)
ready –
not to follow,
but to end
constancy,
longing,
pain.
It is
I.

– Matt Forrest Esenwine, © 1990

Fellow poetry blogger/writer Heidi Mordhorst is hosting Poetry Friday today at My Juicy Little Universe, so make sure you head over and check out all the poetic offerings! And I hope you’ll join me next week for the final installment of Throwback Summer, and what I consider the “best of the worst”: a poem I wrote in college in 1988 that – while not perfect – is good enough that I should probably revise it and send it out (but I’m way too busy for that)!

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