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.
This is the second of my four-part ‘tattletale’ series about our neighbors in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. I had three kids, and my kids have kids. So, I have some street cred opinions about this.
I never met the man who lived in the house to the right of us before he died. A younger couple with several children and a dog eventually moved in. I forget their names.
Their children were girls and the girls always seemed to have friends around, so I never got a good head count. I think someone in the family had enemies as evidenced by regular TP in the trees and spray paint (much more serious with ugly messages) on the house.
I recall seeing the children routinely jumping off the roof of the house onto the trampoline in the back yard. It looked like fun, albeit dangerous. Yet, I recall no 911 or EMS calls – at least not for that address. Except for our house and that one, all other homes on that cul-de-sac had at least one emergency call during the time that we lived there.
I think the youngest of the daughters was regularly under severe attack from zombies or some other mean and vile creatures, and their dog tried to save her. I could tell this by the blood curdling screams (her talent) and the crazy loud insane barking which provided accompaniment. We lived with it – but she and their dog both had very capable lungs. Her sudden screams were startling and a bit funny.
Then one night the kids were about 20 feet from my bedroom window and playing loudly on the trampoline. It was a weekend night, so being up late was no big deal. However, after midnight I got a flashlight and decided to join the party. I did not turn on the flashlight until I was at the fence, thus eliciting more screams. Yes, I scared the crap out of them. And yes, I intended to.
I advised the girls that I appreciated there was fun was to be had, but I wanted to sleep and my bedroom was nearby. I asked if there was an adult nearby. They said there was not. I got lots of “No sir” and “Yes sir” answers to my questions, so the kids were polite and just having fun. But still. My intervention stopped the noise. I don’t know if parents were ever aware of the situation, my complaint, or were even home.
I suppose my wife and I may have been overbearing parents compared to those folks. They had cute and polite kids, but I never saw the children and the parents in the same place at the same time. I seldom saw evidence of adult supervision, period. All of this was more experience than problem, if that makes sense.
It was only a few more months before we moved. Following one of the loud, panicked, world-ending screams, I looked at my wife and said, “I wonder how much I will miss living here.” Shortly after our relocation to a Seattle area 55+ community, I made the comment, “The silence here is deafening and disconcerting.” It was too quiet. For a while, I missed the little boogers.
Look both ways. Children are everywhere. Mind the gaps, too. They hide there.