With less than a week left, the Global NaPoWriMo, 25th-day prompt was to write a poem for a particular occasion: an occasional poem. Every active poet seems to write these. The latest well known were Amanda Gorman’s readings for Prez Biden’s inauguration, and the 2021, Super Bowl. Another was Elizabeth Alexander’s “Praise Song for the Day,” written for Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
Others include “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Tennyson, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” by Julia Ward Howe about the American Civil War; and “The Day Lady Died” by Frank O’Hara about the death of Billie Holiday.
Occasional poems (not a form or style, but a topic) are often lyrical due to their origin in performance and music accompaniment. Historically, they have appeared as wedding songs, dirges, elegies, hymns, and odes.
I decided on a happy personal occasion, walking with my daughter, Julie (who I call, Dewey).
A private occasion, at her location, we walked,
she on my right and me to her left, as
carefully we stepped around
ants, mud puddles; cow, and horse shit;
some plants better untouched, and more.
(She ran beside me years ago, on my right then too,
as I neared the end of the San Antonio Marathon
into the Alamo Dome, there for her Dad.)
We talked of important life things,
other people, how whatever-all
came up to be, stream-of-consciousness
chat, and we talked of what is.
We spoke of things we don’t discuss.
I mostly listened and watched for minor
dangers. I looked at her. She felt pain.
Could have been anything, but it was something.
I mixed roles: both father and friend,
old man down the road,
advocate and critic, partner and lawyer.
Life goes on, but not forever.
My own worry and pain of little consequence,
then—right there, right now; on this land, under that hot,
dry Texas sun. In the end, we were both having fun.
It was more than enjoyable, but not for fun;
it was exercise, but not for health; it was just
a father and daughter sharing some time and life,
one with the other. The little things, like
love and freedom, aches and pains. —— And family.
Look both ways when your baby makes you grand,
when you lean on each other,
when you surrender love for love.
Mind the gaps and watch your step.