Monday, March 3, 2014

Slice Of Life #3: A Poem

A few months ago, my mother and father brought me a box of old memories and treasures from my school experience. It was mostly filled with high school tests, report cards and other artifacts of my upbringing.  From my 3rd grade Young Author Award story to drafts of stories from the freshman yearbook,  I watched my life of literacy pass before me.  A plain manila envelope caught my eye.  It had the word "DENISON" scribbled on the front--all CAPS and in black permanent marker.  My father's handwriting.

As an english major at Denison University, I took classes that ranged from 18th Century British Literature to Contemporary Drama.  But, the one class that really stuck with me was the Creative Writing course.  We experimented writing in multiple genres, but I can remember truly fascinated with writing poetry.  I thought I would share some drafts of poems that I wrote as a junior English major.  Some are really bad, but I think there are a few that stand out as somewhat decent.  I thought I would share some of these poems as they are from a slice of my life on top of "the hill" at Denison.

The Guardian

The statue watches.  A lifeguard
High above the pool of pigeons 
and people.
The bearded, old man
Visits him every day
And tosses chunks of bread to the birds,
Making sure each bird gets an equal amount.
He knows the old man's wife is gone.
He can tell from the way the man slumps there,
Hopelessly feeding them, 
So they don't 
Fly away.
As did the man's beloved dove.

The statue cannot weep for the old man.  
The statue watches.

High above the swirling river of people, he looks
Over them as they pass by, oblivious to his
Permanent existence.
A concrete ice-cream cone melting away
From Mother's harsh winter tongue.
He sits there. Gazing. Watching.
The crowd flows past his lookout station,
Neglecting his graffiti-stained body.

I stop from the rapid flow of people 
And glance up in his eyes. Cracked
From Mother's tears that splash down
Into the pores of his moss-covered gray 
Skin. Weathered from her breath
Blowing across his body.
Looking past the gritty, stone skin, I see
A man who knows things, many things.
A keeper of secrets.

I turn my collar against Mother's morning mist,
Returning to my stream of stress.
The statue watches.  The statue keeps.


  1. Scott, I'm always drawn to poetry, so naturally I came here to explore your words. Your parents have gifted you a window in time keeping these artefacts from your student days. Your poem is certainly deserving of a tag above decent. I enjoyed the strong visual images you created around the old man,the statue and the birds. Thank you for taking into your poetic world.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Alan. It was a little strange reading through my old writing. I can't remember what inspired "The Guardian." But I was 20 at the time, so I'm sure I felt it was poignant in my college brain.

  2. Scott, how interesting it must have been to look into that time capsule of your literary life! What an interesting journey it must have been for you. I wonder if reading this poem and the other items you found has sparked a desire to get back to it.

    1. Thanks Carolyn! It was so weird reading though all those old memories. I might scan my short story I wrote in 3rd grade. It's pretty amazing if you ask me.

  3. I like this original, sensory type of poem and the line, 'Weathered from her breath
    Blowing across his body," resonates with me. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Carol! I have been sharing so many great poems with sensory images in our study of figurative language and poetry. I may use this as a mentor text for my students.

  4. I absolutely love it when slicers come across old artifacts from their past. This happens to me often and for random reasons but there is always a story. Your poem is visual, creative and took me right into the world of words you spun.

    1. Thanks, Betsy! I appreciate your feedback. Publishing a poem from so long ago was interesting for me. I still have all my old drafts and my peer critiques in the margins. Crazy to relive it all again.

  5. I've learned something new about you Scott. Your poem is beautiful and so vivid. I'm so glad you joined the challenge. :)

    1. Thanks Julie! I was not sure about sharing it. It was so long ago--17 years! I can't remember what inspired me to write this poem. But, I will say that in my travels all over the world over the past 10 years, I think about this poem alot as I've walked in Madrid, Berlin, Stockholm and Guatemala City.