Liz’s Poetry Series: Spring Break

by lizard

I had an exchange with someone on Twitter I found intriguing. Dennis Taylor (@dmt4mt) issued the following tweet:

My children’s generation is ready, willing and able. Their turn.

To which I replied:

@dmt4mt you mean they have to fix your generation’s failure?

Taylor’s response?

@madpoet19 So cynical. I thought you were a poet.

Taylor’s assumption that cynicism and poetry are somehow mutually exclusive surprised me, but I shouldn’t be surprised. I think most people who appreciate poetry appreciate it for its inspiration; its enrichment of the human experience with well-crafted language, creating images and metaphorical juxtapositions that expand our understanding of the world.

For me, I’m drawn to a type of poetry that doesn’t shy away from darker realities, like Allen Ginsberg’s America. I want grit and bile and an unwavering, naked eye examining the harsh underbelly of the human experience.

April was designated National Poetry Month back in 1996, and I think it really is the most fitting month to celebrate poetry. April specifically, and spring more generally, is a time of rebirth. Flowers are blooming and songbirds are singing.

But spring has a dark side. It’s the season of new military campaigns and an increased rate of suicide. From the link:

The suicide rate does not peak during the holidays, and the media should stop saying it does, according to a report released Tuesday by the Annenberg Public Policy Center. In fact, the suicide rate is highest in spring and summer. The holiday suicide-spike myth persists because it has a convenient narrative: Lonely people become despondent around Christmastime. So why do people kill themselves in the spring?

Possibly because they interact more. Doctors first observed in the 1820s that suicide rates spike during late spring. Researchers have since postulated and tested all sorts of explanations for the global phenomenon, making this one of the most studied questions in psychiatry.

Later this week, I’m going to put up a post with links to all the poetry posts I’ve written. This will be the 3rd year I’ve posted a compilation of links, and this year that post will be my 700th post.

For this post, I’m going to feature a work in progress titled SPRING BREAK. You can read it below the fold. Thank you for reading and commenting, everyone. It means a lot to me.

*

SPRING BREAK

inside the cylinder, the fuselage
tiny oval window through which we peer
sky unclear
then to climb above the clouds
(to think this casual may be our great
undoing)

from port of air
from flight to flight
from mountains to the flatlands here we are
light lengthening its touch upon the land
we call it spring
then take a break from routine
called vacation

my oldest has his Legos
my youngest has his trains
they don’t know Yellowstone is quaking
they don’t know another world war is creeping

I don’t tell them plastic requires petroleum
I don’t tell them how trains subdued the west
I do my best to protect their sense of wonder

hello son, I’ve soaked the songbirds in gasoline
here’s a match
that box? it belongs to Pandora
here’s a key to the latch

the trees are leaning toward April bloom
wind whispers summer…

I sit on old stone steps watching cars drive by
clueless passengers along for the ride

season of brackets
madness of balls
shot into a basket
is that all?

inside a tent inside a big stone house the kids
are sleeping

Turkey is a country, not just a bird?
hoist your false flag, the world is absurd

rape me, screams Kurt Cobain
the world obliges his request
it’s been twenty years since his death
estimated by authorities to have occurred
on April 5th, 1994

there is no score, this isn’t a game
our culture is increasingly insane

tomorrow we will take the kids
to the Kansas City zoo
they will see penguins and polar bears
I don’t know what to say
or what to do

—William Skink


  1. JC

    Liz, enjoy KC for me. I used to spend a lot of time there — my ex was from there. Take the kids to Worlds of Fun. The zoo was always too depressing for me. And go eat some BBQ at Gates! Unless you’re an Arthur Bryant kind of guy, then don’t… ;-)

    Till then, enjoy some George Carlin, 1992 from Madison Square Gardens. Some great riffs on NIMBYism, houselessness, and our place in the greater scheme of things (his anti-militarism and pro-enviro rants). Good perspective!

    • lizard19

      thanks for the Carlin video. I needed that.

      last night we ate Oklahoma Joe’s bbq, and goddamn it was tasty!

      it’s weird coming back to KC now. I don’t know if I ever told you this, JC, but I’m a Johnson County brat. I grew up in the JoCo suburban bubble south of KCMO. my in-laws, on the other hand, live in a big stone house near 39th st. we’ve seen, in the last few years of visiting, 39th get gentrified, thanks to massive development of the KU medical center campus.

      seeing the polar bears broke my heart. one paced at the back of their enclosure while the other did this swimming loop, going under water, then pushing off the glass into a sort of back-flop. later in the day I was talking to my brother-in-law’s wife, and she described the exact routine of both bears because that’s just what they do, over and over and over, day after day.

      small town living has spoiled me. I can only handle the scale of cities for so long, especially the driving. after nearly getting run off the road by a Hummer today, I looked back at my oldest and he had his ears plugged. I asked him why he was plugging his ears, and he said he didn’t want to hear me use more bad words.

      in my defense, the dude really was being a fucker ;)

  1. 1 152 Poetry Posts to Celebrate April, National Poetry Month | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Spring Break […]




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