Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ahem . . . Me me me me me!

I’ve never even heard of a meme before Monday, let alone completed one. Though I used to interrupt the silence between myself and my girlfriend with two-word lists I would challenge her with – expecting her to pick one of the two words presented. From her answer, I hoped to learn something novel about her. I’d say apropos of nothing, “Linen or Satin?” or “Lemon or Peach? or “Poem or Rose” or “Candle or Ice cube?” She’d protest and say, “Candle what? Ice cube why an ice cube?” I’d always respond the same way, monotone and firm. “Choose!” And she always would. We loved that game. Meme’s remind me of that and of her.

1. The first poem I remember reading/hearing/reacting to was … Jack be Nimble. I was two or three. My dad would recite it incorrectly in order to get a laugh – like this: Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jumped over the candlestick and burned his diddle! We’d laugh uncontrollably and repeat it over and over together. He usually gave me the chance to yell DIDDLE at the appropriate point in the rhyme. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it wasn’t called a diddle until about 6th grade. We’ll save that discussion for another day.

2. I was forced to memorize paragraphs of Shakespear in school (8th grade) and just fell in love with his form and formula. I think Shakespear taught me to love words with double meanings. He was the master of double meanings. “Tis not so deep as a well, nor as wide as a church door, but ‘tis enough, ‘twill serve. Ask for me tomorrow and you will find me a grave man!” Brilliant.

3. I read poetry because I’m not dead yet! Seriously, I read it because when I find a good verse, stanza, line, metaphor, or poetic idea, I’m both transformed and transported. It takes me places I can’t get to with an SUV or a rope. If people were eggs and we received a good crack, poetry is what would run out of us for sure! Poetry is just a vehicle that lets us experience what’s inside without a sharp blow from a garden tool.

4. A poem I’m likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem is . . . Jack be Nimble – just kidding. I think my favorite poem is Believe me if all Those Endearing Young Charms by Thomas Moore. It’s just an absolutely perfect poem of love. I hate that it was made into a song. It’s so much better when simply read. My favorite line: “and around the dear ruin each wish of my heart would entwine itself verdantly still.” Another poem I absolutely love is called A Summer of Flies by Armin Tolentino. It gives me chills in the most delightful way. Here it is:

I clearly remember a summer of flies,

humid with buzzing, shimmering green.

A swarm in the garden perched on the rough

skin of the cantaloupes, split, spilling seeds.

This was in August. My grandfather died

three months before, his face in the soil,

a halo of sweat, dirt stuck to his eyes.

The melons grew fat, ripened, then spoiled.

Next summer I planted packets of mint

to help me forget the smell of the rot.

July brought no rain, the Earth dried to flint.

The melons grew back, though tiny like dots.

As I grew older, I neglected the garden.

The seeds below slept as the Earth above hardened.

(That’s one damn good poem if I must say so myself!)

5. I write poetry, but for the most part its an insult to what really passes for poetry. I have no formal training/education in writing, just passion. And so I continue to stumble in metaphors.

6. My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature. And that’s mostly because I read poetry in secret, hiding from everyone so they won’t see me cry as I experience unimaginable beauty and spirituality. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll cry over a good story, but it can take days for me to recover from poetry that moves me to tears.

7. I find poetry in the American Heritage Dictionary between the words “Poet Laureate” and “pogonia” (which is any of various small terrestrial orchids of the genus Pogonia).

8. The last time I heard poetry was last Friday when I listened to Dogfaceboy’s recording of “Jimmy” on her website, which by the way, is a very cool poem! Clearly, my preference is to read poetry to myself. Whether or not you agree, 87% of all information communicated is non-verbal. Which means when we listen to a poet read a poem, we get all of their interpretation, mood, tone, affect, etc. For me, experiencing poetry is deeply personal and I find that hearing someone else read it interferes with my own experience. So, when it comes to poetry, I’m a loner.

9. I think poetry is just another name for all of those drugs I consumed in college – which bent my perspective in the most delicious way, leaving me hungry for more, the moment the trip was over. It’s so simple now – words just get me high.


blackbank said...

Dennis, good choice of poem. I like that. Poetry comes from the gut. Don't bother comparing yours to others, otherwise you'll not grow. Read other poetry, but don't reckon it's better than yours. Good luck. BB

gkgirl said...

i think that game
sounds interesting...
the choice of two things.

and great choice for a poem!

Anonymous said...

I like the game; I'll have to try it, then write a poem from the answers I get. A post filled with humor and happy memories, a very enjoyable read, Dennis.

Bice said...

It takes me places I can’t get to with an SUV or a rope.

Nice concept and way of phrasing it. It's good to read the back stories on the people who frequent PT.

Beloved Dreamer said...

You may say so your self. Great poem and interesting meme.
I like your blog


Poet with a Day Job said...


I adore your answer to #3 and was cracking up laughing (pun intended?).

Incidentally, I play a word game with my girlfriend too. We take a prefix, then go back and forth listing every possible word we can think of with that prefix. It's totally fun, especially when you have insomnia...or simply don't want to go to bed.

dogfaceboy said...

You are funny. We have a similar sense of humor, and I play that game regularly with some online friends.

madd said...

Dennis..I agree with every thing you said and the more you did not..thank you for sharing you..I'm glad it was more than a two challenge..m

WhatGreatGravity said...

Enjoyed your comment, and your meme answers even more!

When I said "Poetry is serious", I meant that exclusively to my written poetry. I love reading it (any type!), and I love writing it, but I haven't written much, and all of what I've written thus far has been either narrative or descriptive/relational. Haven't had the urge to try out the silliness yet, just because I write poetry when it it hits me hard enough to force the pen, but maybe one day.

Thanks for reading, and again, thanks for your comment.


Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Wow. ;-)

Natalie said...

Nice to hear about some of your childhood memories Dennis, and about your appreciation of poetry. As usual you express yourself so well. Nat xx

Rethabile said...

I have no formal training/education in writing, just passion.

That's all you need. you don't need a diploma. Just passion and perseverance.

Beloved Dreamer said...

Dennis, I must fess up. The picture you see is me at a New years Eve party long ago and I was that girl. The Life of the party. Thank God I've grown up and learned many things from life.


Dani said...

I find it interesting that you consider reading poetry a personal experience. When I read a good poem, it practically begs to be read aloud. Unfortunately no one around me is into poetry so I don't have anyone to read it to but myself (or my kids, who have to do what I say!).

Nessie said...

I recently discovered poetry as well though its with guidance. It was easy for me to write as a new form of expression but never something I enjoyed to read. Recently, when i read Harold Bloom's HOW TO READ AND WHY he said to memorize them so I will try that.

ren.kat said...

One of my favorite writers has never been to college- she is self-taught and knows more about literature than almost all of the "formally trained" people I know. And I agree with BICE

Carol Anne said...

What great memories of your dad. I like your "stumbling in metaphors". And its true that words can make you high -- I feel that way about music also.

twilightspider said...

You have certainly cracked yourself like an egg for us here - and unlike real eggs, everything that spills out is delicious. (I've never been one for the yolk!)

Dennis said...

As always, thanks so much for stopping by and and making PT such an awesome experience for me. I truly love you guys for sharing and reaching out. And extra thanks to my frequent flyers for being a constant - you know who you are!

Dennis ~

Clockworkchris said...

Glad to hear that someone else had never heard of a meme. It surprised me, being my first time here, that we are in the same field; well psychology at least. I was basically told by my doctor that when I stopped using recreational drugs one good thing I could do was write down my thoughts, and since poetry has always been natural that is what I do. The Jack be Nimble from your dad is priceless. I, like you, get much more from a poem if I read it myself. Unlike you, it never brings tears. I am so hardened by the world that I can pump out feeling on paper but reading never gets me, however movies will give me a good cry. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I've read some of your poetry also, and it is wonderful.

Left-handed Trees... said...

This meme has been a very good one...I loved your final thoughts on what poetry does for you. I am also "high" on words, so this was wonderful!

Joy said...

WOW, You must be an amazing person!

I agree with you completely, I, too, am a loner. The feelings that build up inside are overwhelming when reading poetry

Thanks for sharing :)