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cell phone self-portrait
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Monday, December 17, 2007

Working on a Poem

I am going to annotate my own poem-in-process, to see what it can tell me about where it has been and where it is going.

First line:

"I am from a papa preacher, Oscar Floyd Moon,
when church starts at 9:30, I mean 9:30, not 9:31."

Now while this makes perfectly good sense to me, I wonder if readers will understand that Oscar was a preacher, and that he insisted on punctuality. Surely.

"I am from his bride, Dollie Hyatt, her hair braided and coiled,
her patchwork quilts for everyday use. Thank you, Alice Walker."

I've just changed from Dollie Jeanette (her first and middle name) to her maiden name because it is more satisfying and carries the Hyatt clan that is so important to my genealogy. No one but me will no this, however --- so what is the point? Well, what is the point of the whole poem? That is the question I should answer or leave alone. And I keep struggling with wanting to include the fact that I called my grandfather and grandmother Oscar Mayer and Dolly Madison.
The reference to Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use" will go unappreciated by those who haven't read it, but they may at least know her name and wonder about it.

"I am from people who missed school picking cotton"

(This must stay in --- it signifies my socio-economic class, doesn't it? Doesn't it say, "we were sharecroppers --- or they were?" Does it bring to mind, though, the scratches, the heat, the aching back? Well, how to do that? Shall I bring in a broiling sun, alchol and cotton swabs?)

"An uncle whose first check from his first job" --- should I say that he was about 16? Or was he 14? Does it matter?

"bought school lunches for the year for his eleven brothers and sisters (oooh --- I left out the number before --- and the number is so important. It's a staggering number. I want to mention the triplet uncles, but damn it this poem is too long already. Leeo, Cleeo, and Theo will have to have their own poem.

3 comments:

Tom Cassidy said...

Let me say that I loved the way the intensity of detail seemed to grow in this poem as it went along. I'm a real sucker for mother / daughter stuff, so I loved that you ended with that.

Tom Cassidy said...

P.S., added your (and Janet's) blog to my blogroll.

Tamara Miles said...

Thanks! I have decided, after thinking about it for several days, that "papa preacher" isn't going to work. It reminds me of Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach". I'll work on new phrase.