Tagged: poetry

The years flare up and are gone: “Sometimes it happens” by Brian Patten

I’ve been a terrible slacker about National Poetry Month; I did have grand plans to post more than one post that was poetry-related this month, but life got in the way, as it does. Darn you, life, being in the way of poetry! I would think that would be illegal. Shouldn’t that be illegal?

I can assure you, however, that I have been celebrating in my own way. I have been writing a lot of poetry (which I cannot show you, because I am submitting it for publication, so it has to stay off the interwebs, otherwise it’s previously published, and no one likes that, do they? I promise I’ll tell you if anything gets accepted, so you can read it in various places and celebrate with me. And won’t that be fun? Sure it will!)

I have also been reading a lot of poetry, but I can’t say that’s something I just do for poetry month. That’s something I do year-round. I try to read a new-to-me poem at least once a day, if not more often. And it’s not even “try to read” as much as I just DO read them, because I follow a lot of poetry blogs and magazines and what-have-you, and love to fill my eyeholes with poetry. Poets do this, you see.

I did want to post something for National Poetry Month, however, because well, come on, people! National Poetry Month! And when I saw that Serena at Savvy Verse and Wit was having a National Poetry Month Tour, I bugged her until she let me be a part of it. And that is how you do it! Stand outside someone’s house with a boom box blasting “In Your Eyes” until they relent!*

*Please do not do this. You will be arrested. Unless you are a 1980s John Cusack.

Then I hemmed and hawed for, like, ever, about what I should write about. Should I review a book? Should I write about writing poetry? Should I write about a magazine, or the submission of poetry, or something random, like poetry in the movies?

Probably could have. But then I decided, no. I ran across a poem that moved me to tears last year, and I wanted to share it. It’s National Poetry Month and I’ll cry if I want to.

Sometimes it happens
–Brian Patten

And sometimes it happens that you are friends and then
You are not friends,
And friendship has passed.
And whole days are lost and among them
A fountain empties itself.

And sometimes it happens that you are loved and then
You are not loved,
And love is past.
And whole days are lost and among them
A fountain empties itself into the grass.

And sometimes you want to speak to her and then
You do not want to speak,
Then the opportunity has passed.
Your dreams flare up, they suddenly vanish.

And also it happens that there is nowhere to go and then
There is somewhere to go,
Then you have bypassed.
And the years flare up and are gone,
Quicker than a minute.

So you have nothing.
You wonder if these things matter and then
As soon you begin to wonder if these things matter
They cease to matter,
And caring is past.
And a fountain empties itself into the grass.

(Special thanks to Elaine for introducing me to Brian Patten in this post.)

I love this. This is an excellent author photo.

I spend a lot of time thinking about love, and friendship; about those various ties to others that we all have, and how they work, and how they don’t work, when they fail.

Read this. Just read it, please. Oh, it’s National Poetry Month. You can spare me the reading of a poem.

You are friends, and then you are not friends.

You are loved, and then you are not loved.

Isn’t it beautiful? And relatable? Isn’t the feeling in your chest when you’re going through that loss a fountain emptying itself into the grass – that feeling of loss, that feeling of emptying, of being emptied?

And then it gets better. There isn’t anywhere to go…and then there is.

The whole poem builds to you ceasing to care…but I love that everything’s not alright. It’s not that you’re healed. It’s just that you’re empty.

It’s very true, this poem. It’s not sunshine and flowers, and it’s not doom and gloom. It’s true. You lose people, and you are hollow inside, you are empty. Things do get better…but you’re changed by the experience, no matter how much you’ve moved on.

This is what I love about poetry. Other people experiencing what you have, putting their words to it, letting you into their lives for a moment, letting you feel your feelings through their own.

And a fountain empties itself into the grass.

(Thank you, Serena, for the chance to participate!)



Desperate houses with counterfeit chimneys: “The Dark Man” by Stephen King

i have ridden rails
and passed the smuggery
of desperate houses with counterfeit chimneys

The Dark ManĀ by Stephen King
Illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne

88 pages; Cemetery Dance Publications; July 2013
Illustrated poem

I know, right? ILLUSTRATED POEM, you guys. By KING, no less.

I’ve wanted to get my hands on this bad boy since it was released, but I’m cheap. (Sorry to shock you.) And my library didn’t have it. Until BAM, I randomly did one of my obsessive King-checks that I do every now and then and my library DID have it. Got it in December. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME!

I kind of avoided reading too much about this when it came out because I knew how brief it was, and I wanted to experience it as unspoiled as I could. Now, if anyone knows me from real life (or from previous reviews, I suppose) you know I’m a Stephen King fan. And as I wrote a whole book of poetry (and somewhat foolishly) majored in it in college, I’m ALSO a poetry fan.

I know what you’re thinking. “Amy’s going to hate this! Because she’s a poetry snob! King can’t write poetry!”

Ha! Little do you know, he’s published some poetry. And I liked it. I was pretty sure going into this I’d like it. (Here’s my favorite I’ve read of his, if you’re interested. It’s the “steal it, steal it, and wear it for my own” that gets me.)

This is a poem he wrote in 1969 before Randall Flagg became Randall Flagg. Randall Flagg was just The Dark Man, then: a man who walked, and walked, and walked, and you knew, without even knowing why, really, to cross the street when he was coming. Something about the eyes. Something about the smile. Something just a little too hungry, maybe.

Did I like it?

Yes. Very much.

It’s got a Prufrock feel to it; it even starts with a Prufrock quote. And why not? Prufrock and The Dark Man are both outsiders, both looking in on something they can’t have. Difference is, Prufrock doesn’t get angry and take it because he thinks he deserves it.

Chadbourne’s illustrations are unsettling. But rightfully so, for this poem. Because the poem itself is unsettling. It’s short, but it gets inside and it worries you. Because this man could be anyone, and he could be right outside, right now. And a locked door probably wouldn’t stop him. Not if he really wanted to get in. Not if he decided where you were was where he wanted to be.

It really is a gorgeous little book. And I’m all for doing things like this; anything that makes poetry more accessible and – well, dare I say it? – COOL. Completely alright with me. I might be a bit of a King completist, I’ll admit that, but this is something that even the non-King fan could enjoy. A poetry fan, a graphic novel fan, a horror fan. There’s room for everyone on the road with The Dark Man, if you can keep up.

If you want to keep up, that is. I don’t know that you do. You might find your soul slipping away with every step.

Run like hell: “Slammed” by Colleen Hoover

There are three questions every woman should be able to answer yes to before they commit to a man. If you answer no to any of the three questions, run like hell…Does he treat you with respect at all times? That’s the first question. The second question is, if he is the exact same person twenty years from now that he is today, would you still want to marry him? And finally, does he inspire to be a better person? You find someone you can answer yes to all three, then you’ve found a good man.

Slammed by Colleen Hoover
352 pages; Atria Books; September 2012
Young Adult

I really wanted to like this book.

It’s about slam poetry, you guys. What do I like so much? Poetry. I very much admire people that can get up and perform their work in front of people in that kind of environment. A romance? Involving slam poetry? That’s highly reviewed all over the place? Well. Count me in!

I really did not like this book.

Layken (don’t ask about the name, there’s an explanation for how ridiculous it is, but I’m not even going to bother telling you about it) moves from Texas to Michigan with her mother and younger brother after the unexpected death of her father. Immediately upon arrival, she meets Will, her next-door-neighbor. BAM NOW THEY ARE IN LOVE. He is a slam poet. They spend two days being all “I can’t believe this is happening” and “ZOMG EVERY TIME I KISS YOU IT IS BETTER” until they find out…DUN DUN DUN…a TERRIBLE REASON THEY CANNOT BE TOGETHER! So the rest of the book is them being all “but I love you!” “But NO NO NO WE CANNOT!” and this goes on for THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY TWO PAGES. Also there’s more death, which is sappy as shit, and there’s this strange undercurrent of misogyny that I totally could not get over.

I really, really, REALLY did not like this book.

Without spoiling you, I can’t tell you the plot points that a., led to the “breakup” (listen, you read YA, you know it’s only temporary, I mean, TRUE LOVE WILL FIND A WAY, amiright?) or b., led to what I consider a weird daddy-complex situation and maybe a little bit of anti-feminist bullshit. I mean, someone might read this review and want to read the book. I can’t predict the future. And I hate people that spoil books in reviews, they’re just the worst.

I will tell you that Layken is the worst, you guys. And she’s the main character. She’s whiny, she thinks of no one but herself (even when she’s daintily crying over Will, it’s really about her, or supposedly taking care of her little brother, it’s still all about her), she throws these epic tantrums that would be out of place in a toddler…and everyone’s just like, “Aw, Layken, here’s a tissue, babe.” NO ONE CALLS HER ON HER SHIT. I mean, sure. Her dad died, and she got handed a shitty hand in life. Fine. Thing is, the only character I really liked (Will wasn’t TERRIBLE, but he was in love – well, the book said so, but I think really he wanted someone to take care of and boss around – with Layken) was Layken’s best friend Eddie (Eddie’s a girl, the names in this book are so awful and the explanations behind them are worse) and Eddie’s this foster kid whose mom tried to sell her in a Walmart parking lot so she could buy drugs. And even EDDIE was like, “Aw, poor Layken, your sad, sad, terrible life.” NO ONE WOULD WANT TO HANG OUT WITH LAYKEN SHE WAS JUST THE WORST EVER OF ALL THE PEOPLE EVER.

Also, slam poetry works well on a stage; it does not transcribe so well. Even GOOD slam poetry. I assume Hoover wrote the poetry in this book? It’s terrible. Just terrible. No one would perform this. If they did, they wouldn’t make it to round two of the slam, I’m telling you right now, unless maybe everyone else at the slam was performing similar garbage and you had to choose the best of a bad situation, I don’t know.

And? I am so, so, SO over books/movies/television shows with this love-at-first-sight bullshit. Lust at first sight? Yup. Attraction at first sight? Most definitely. Intrigued with someone at first sight, wanting to get to know them more? Yes, of course. It takes TIME to fall in love. How much time? I don’t know your life. Thing is, too many young people think they’re in LOVE (hearts! stars! birdies flying around their heads!) when they don’t know what that word MEANS. Love isn’t easy, chickadees, and it’s not seeing someone and being all “I WILL MARRY THAT PERSON SOMEDAY.” You have to get to know them and you have to know their crabby sides and their good sides and the fact that sometimes, it’s not all about you, and sometimes, that person’s going to act like an asshole, and sometimes, you are. And eventually, you realize, even though you both are kind of dicks now and then, you still love the big jerk, and he/she loves you. And that’s a lot more real and lasting than “I saw this guy in my driveway; I love him now the end.” THAT ISN’T HOW LOVE WORKS.

This is part of a series. I will absolutely not be reading the rest of this series. You couldn’t pay me enough money. I’d rather shut my pinkie toe in a steel-core door three times over than read any more of this series.

And the quote at the top of the review? This was the advice Layken (ugh, that NAME)’s mother gave her before her first date with Will. Just look at that. Every “woman” should be able to answer those questions. So, break it down a little: he should treat you with respect. Fine. I’m down with that. If he was the same person 20 years from now, would you want to still marry him. IT IS HER FIRST DATE. But I’m not taking too much umbrage with that one. Finally: does he “inspire” you want to be a better person. Does HE inspire YOU want to be a better person. Not, do YOU TWO, TOGETHER, inspire each OTHER to be better people. Does he see something in you that’s lacking, and does that, in turn, make you want to be a better person? If these were rules for BOTH men AND women, I wouldn’t be so upset by them, I suppose. But the man’s supposed to make her want to change…while he, I don’t know, stays the same for twenty years because they’re going to get married after their first date?

Well, at least he’s treating her with respect, so there’s that, I suppose.

I really, really, REALLY did not like this book.

*shakes it off*

*picks up something that’s hopefully less pain-inducing*