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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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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Poetry Friday: Throwback Summer takes a 180 turn…

…into Not-Quite-So-Bad Land.

As you might have heard, I’m sharing some of my old high school poetry each Friday this summer – and yes, most of it has been painfully horrendous.

poetryfridaybutton-fulllBut as we’re coming to the final stretch of this series (I anticipate wrapping up this trip back in time the first week of September), I’m now sharing a couple of poems I wrote in college. And although they are not the best poems ever written, they are nowhere near as vomit-inducing as most of the previous ones I’ve subjected you to.

(In other words, if you were expecting another “Ode to a Dishrag,” prepare to be disappointed)

Today’s poem was one of the first free verse poems I ever wrote. (The very first one was actually published!) It was written for my college Creative Writing class with Dr. Joyce Thomas, at Castleton State College, Vermont. I recall revising it a number of times, so I think  this was the final version. If you don’t mind mixed metaphors, verbose lines, and obvious connections, read on…

The Performance

Houselights down:
the sky grows increasingly dark
pinholes of stars shrouded
by clouds fully drenched with water;
giant sponges
floating in the otherwise barren atmosphere,
waiting to be squeezed by some giant hand.
A burst of light, center stage –
a short flash of lightning illuminates the earth below,
the black, India-ink sky turns to a dull gray.
The celestial sphere appears as an oyster shell.
Two more bolts spotlight the event;
……….Act I, Scene 1.
Hesitant only for a split second
lightning’s comrade enters stage right,
jarring the thoughts of those already attentive.
The deep baritone voice of the leading man
echoes throughout the auditorium;
more loud rolls of thunder echo each other,
flowing over grassy hills that provide proper acoustics.
the curtain of soaking rain
drops from the proscenium
to a captive audience lost
in bewilderment.

The show begins.

– Matt Forrest Esenwine, 10-20-88, Class: ENG465

This is one of those poems that I’d really like to shave down and rewrite…but I have so many other more pressing things to do I’m sure it’ll never happen! The one thing I like best about this is the fact that I was able to combine a narrative with some poetic imagery and internal rhyme, even if it was quite amateurish and clunky.

My professor (a published poet), knowing how bad most of my poetry had been up to this point, seemed genuinely impressed that I had somehow knocked this out onto paper. With her encouragement, I soldiered on and wrote many, many more truly horrible poems in-between a handful of publishable ones. I like to think that I have now turned that ratio on its head…but that might just be me being delusional.

Ready for some more poetry? Much better poetry? Then please visit Doraine Bennett at Dori Reads for today’s complete Poetry Friday Roundup!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
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