Tag Archives: poetry

The Ticket (a sestina)

Last week for school, I wrote a paper on the postal service reform of 1840, and how the postal service in the Victorian Age parallels what the internet is for our age. I won’t bore you with that.

This week I wrote a bunch of stuff about Isabella Beeton, who wrote The Book of Household Management, the full title of which is The Book of Household Management: Comprising information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-Maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and Under House-Maids, Lady’s-Maid, Maid-of-all-Work, Laundry-Maid, Nurse and Nurse-Maid, Monthly Wet and Sick Nurses, etc. etc.—also Sanitary, Medical, & Legal Memoranda: with a History of the Origin, Properties, and Uses of all Things Connected with Home Life and Comfort. I don’t know about you, but I find stuff like this awesome. It reminds me of the Emily Post Etiquette books. I have read some of The Book of Household Management (you can get the Kindle version on Amazon for $2.99) and there is just something so fascinating about how specific the guidelines are for a woman’s behavior, duties, and role in society.

But, I actually have a whole second class too, which is a writing class, called Studies in Place & Setting. I’ve been worried that I’m neglecting this class a little bit, because the Victorian era class is taking up a lot more of my time (see above). But I think that’s the nature of the two different types of classes. (Also, I’m a little jealous of people who take classes without also having a full time job, and/or a 2 1/2 year old running around.)

Anyway, for Studies in Place & Setting, this week we were asked to write a creative piece about someone who loses something or someone, tangible or not. I decided to write a sestina, which is one of my favorite poetry forms. This is basically the first draft of it.

The Ticket 

Lydia hitches her bag up onto her shoulder
And makes a break for the turnstile. The train
Is coming, moving faster than seems safe,
As it hurtles into the station. She skids to a stop
On the platform, the train a wall of silvery gray
Blurring in front of her, like all the friends she has lost.

The doors slide open. The riders look lost,
Fitted in like puzzle pieces, shoulder to shoulder,
Just another Monday morning commute, slate gray
Like the sky outside the windows of the train.
Lydia gently shoves her way in, looking for her stop
On the map above her head. She feels safe

Among these people. Lydia thought safe
Was the last thing she’d feel, essentially lost
In a big city. Her parents had tried to put a stop
To her leaving home. Her mother had cried on her shoulder
When Lydia boarded that Amtrak train,
Leaving that little town of black and white and gray.

She maneuvers her hand into the cool gray
Interior of her purse, checking that her ticket is safe.
She knows she needs it to get off the train.
But her biggest fear: the ticket is lost!
Not in her purse, not in her pocket; her shoulder,
The one not stuck against the wall, starts trembling and won’t stop.

The people lurch as one as the train heaves into its stop.
Lydia feels like her skin is struck gray.
A man stumbles into her, briefly touches her shoulder
As passengers exit around her, their tickets clutched safe
In their fists. Lydia thinks for a second of the lost
Opportunity: the job interview waiting just off the train.

She is still standing there as the punctual train
Doors close, and the beast rumbles out of Lydia’s stop.
She thinks of all the things she’s willingly lost:
Her parents, most of her accent, the horizon-wide gray
Skies of home. That limitless sky made her feel safe.
Anyway, she was never sure about taking this job onto her shoulder.

There is always another train home, and a gray
Farmhouse at some nameless stop. She holds this safe
In her heart, the lost ticket suddenly a weight off her shoulder.

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tbt: National Poetry Day

Today is National Poetry Day. The National Poetry Day theme for 2014, according to a random website I clicked on, is “Remember.” How fitting for a throwback Thursday!

So here is a poem I found on my laptop, in the “old computer stuff” section, which I cruise through whenever I want to remember what it was like to be 17. I don’t like staying there long. I was more prolific, but way angsty, and overall pretty obnoxious. There is something to be said for just being content.

This is from April 2002. It might actually be two separate things. None of the stuff in this particular document is titled…although there is some very interesting formatting in terms of font, size, use of ampersands, and justification.

==

I woke this
morning
with a
longing so
fierce I thought
it must have
been
someone else’s.

When you left
I burned
everything.

 

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Filed under Being a girl, Humor, Memoir, Sentiment, Writing

The Road Not Taken: A Lesson in English and Life

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 

==

This is one of my favorite poems, for three reasons.

1. I love the rhyme and the meter of the poem. I love reciting it. There’s something so musical about the ABAAB and the iambic tetrameter. I loved studying poetry in school, and sometimes I really miss it.

2. I love the message of the poem. But stay tuned. Because:

3. This poem doesn’t actually mean what everyone thinks it means. And here’s your English lesson for today:

In the early 1910s, Robert Frost became friends with another writer, Edward Thomas. They would go for walks through the woods, and Thomas was constantly moaning about the fact that they had taken the “wrong” path – and missed something amazing on another path. Frost wrote this poem in 1915, a sarcastic answer to Thomas’ worry that he was always making the wrong decision.

If you dissect the poem, there are three instances where Frost admits that there is no “better” path:

“as just as fair”
“the passing there / had worn them really about the same”
“both that morning equally lay”

The closing stanza is a sigh from someone looking back on opportunities lost. Frost is gently mocking the narrator (and Thomas) for fretting over missed opportunities, and for not seizing the opportunities that one is presented with.

I freaking love this poem and the story behind it.

==

Today was my last full time day at my theatre job. On Monday I start a new job as an Executive Assistant, in an office full of brand new people. This was my choice, my decision, and it was a hard decision, but I still think it was the right decision.

Every new path brings change, something new to learn, and new opportunities for joy.

Two roads diverged in a wood. And I.

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Filed under Beauty, Dreams, Friends, Love, Nature, Nonfiction, Self improvement, Sentiment, Theatre, Travel, Work, Writing

Throwback Thursday: Poetry

I wrote this in May of 2003 for a friend who worked in a mall, and used to complain about it occasionally. (It was an Abercrombie, I think.) (The poem is written in blank verse.)

To Work In A Mall

How tepid a life, to work in a mall
To see the same overfed, overbred
crowd, lurching around vendors & candy
machines.  To stand in a doorway & spout
the same rubbish—  “Hey, how ya doin’?  If
I can help you with anything, just let
me know.  Stenciled Ts and flip-flops half off.”
How worthless to fold that same pair of shorts
eighteen times in one day (& you know they
are the same pair because of the crease in
the waistband) because people try them on,
Take them off, drop them on the thin carpet
for posterity—or you—to pick up.
How tiring to be manhandled and
questioned for eight hours a day about
the same things—FAQs—when all you want
is to go down the way to the Starbucks,
& ask them for the strongest drink they have.

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Filed under "Other people", Fashion, Friends, Nonfiction, Sentiment, Writing

For B, On Saturday Morning

I wrote this poem this morning.

For B, On Saturday Morning

When you fell asleep while nursing,
I thought you’d go back to sleep,
But you started crying.

When we brought you into the big bed,
I thought you’d at least stay quiet,
But you just wanted to kick and coo.

When Daddy got up with you,
I thought I could (possibly) doze for another few minutes,
But then you peed in your own face,
Twice,
And I knew it was time to just get up.

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Filed under Awesome, Baby, Family, Love, Nonfiction, Writing