I came across a poem last week. It was a poem in response to an obituary the poet had seen. Here’s how it begins…
When I die, let them write about
all the mistakes I’ve made.
Let them mention in the headlines
how many rejection letters
I’ve received from The Sun.
Let them say […]
This poem elicited an “mmmmm” from me, and then it flipped a switch. This was a prompt! I had to write one, too. Thus…
AFTER SEEING A POEM ABOUT AN OBITUARY OF A KICKER WHO MISSED IN THE SUPER BOWL
“When I die, let them write about
all the mistakes I’ve made.”
Let them lay bare all of my failings,
mention in the headlines
that all of my contest entries
magazine submissions returned.
Let them say, “Despite playing high school sports,
she battled obesity for most of her life.”
Let them recount the tale of my first apple pie,
which I dropped face down on the kitchen floor
as I proudly carried it to show my daddy.
They can note how my voluminous books
teetered in precarious stacks throughout my house,
which was located in earthquake country,
and how the majority of my tall furniture remained
unbolted to the walls.
They can remind readers that I railed
pointlessly at the injustices of the world,
the infuriating melding of religion and politics
and at the self-assured declarations of men and lunatics.
That my test scores were disappointingly inconsistent,
that I indeed
left some children behind,
despite Bush and his very best efforts,
“What do any of us really accomplish?”
the poet asks.
My friend Tonia says, “We do the best we can
with what we’re given.”
I was given a big-ass heart
that I wish looked better in jeans,
and too-easy tears
that I wish had more responsive control knobs.
But I do the best I can and
wield the heart, the tears,
and seek to extend the mercy and love
beyond the veil of snark and fear.
So how about it? Wanna play? Does this take your fancy? How would YOU respond to this? What might your obituary say? What would your poem focus on? You might start with some negatives, some failings laid bare. Then, when it feels comfortable, you can begin to turn the ship. I used Trommer’s line, “What do any of us really accomplish?”, as my hinge point. (So does Trommer.) From there, both poems attempt to locate the sweet amid the bitter, to turn from shade to at least a little indirect sunlight, to find the hope and comfort in the graveyard.
Just play with this. No pressure; no judgment. Feel free to share it, or not. Feel free to post it on your own blog, or not. The spirit of the prompt is simply to have fun and see what comes.
Photo (c) R.L. Pryor, 2013; St. Andrew’s Abbey, Valyermo, CA