Friday, June 29, 2007


As promised, you'll find my response to the "Oatmeal" assignment of a couple of days ago. Have a look at the poem. Enjoy it if you so choose. But, keep in mind that this is an early draft and, to my mind, not quite finished.

At a glance, it seems to me that I took the middle-ground between the Jim Daniels and the Galway Kinnell poems by aiming for something whimsical, which still explicates a speaker's relationship to another. But is the poem successful? Would it stand out from hundreds of other poems on a similar subject? Would you, as a reader, be drawn back into the poem, allowing it more than one read? Is it memorable? More so than the latest American Idol?

Consider for a moment or two what you would do if this were your poem. What would you do to improve it? Are any words extraneous? Is anything missing? Could any of the line breaks be improved? Does the rhythm falter in any spots?

If this were your poem, what would you do next?


Mornings before I woke, father would be up by five,
sitting at the kitchen table, brewing blended coffee,
boiling water, and spreading mustard (or was it mayonnaise?)
on four slices of white bread for his baloney lunch.

He would open two paper packets of instant oatmeal,
pour their dried flakes into a bowl dollopped with margarine
and baptize the concoction with boiling water.
Every workday for fifteen years, this was his breakfast.
Hollandaise sauce was as likely as shaking hands with a hobbit.
Elaborate omelets bursting with ham were rare as sasquatch sightings.
Lattes were serpentine tales from Scottish lochs.
Lunch at a restaurant was less likely than cornering a chupacabra
that could be tamed with handfuls of chocolate.

Now, I can't, for the life of me, remember one conversation
we had before he drove twenty miles to Fort Worth.
Maybe he told me tall-tales about a bear his grandfather
killed with a ball of twine, a duck whistle, and a bottle of moonshine.
Maybe I've made too much of this poem up.
Knowing me, we probably talked about the Diablo
I thought I'd buy when I was old enough to work.

It doesn’t matter.

Most days, he'd let me float through the ocean of sleep,
spotting krakens, narwhals, and megamouth sharks
from a bathysphere of bunched up blankets.
I wouldn't surface until I absolutely had to.

Since then, I’ve seen a skeleton of Homo floresiensis
and pictured its tiny hands reaching forth to grasp mine.

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