Sunday, April 28, 2013

Poetry Month 2013

How the heck did I get into my mid 50's already?  When did this happen?  Younger people may have heard this from the middle-aged or older folks in their lives; I look old to you, but I still feel young on the inside.  It's true.  Inside I'm 25.  Oh, I guess I'm a bit more outwardly mature and measured in my responses to difficult things, and I don't lose my temper quite as often.  I have enough perspective now that I'm able to laugh at my own foolishness or when things don't go my way.  But the essential Me inside my head still thinks she's just 20-something, still gets excited about stuff, upset about disappointments, likes goofing off, going on vacation, laughing with friends.

But in the past five years I've had two or three major surgeries.  People I've known most of my life are dying.  Usually they're my parents' age, but not always.  College friends have children who've already graduated from college for Pete's sake!  Many of us drive sensible sedans or SUVs instead of sports cars (again, not all - I'm looking at you, Georgia ;-).  We talk about our house maintenance woes and gardening.  We've seen multiple pets come into our lives, bring joy, and eventually die of old age.  We struggle with our weight, and getting enough exercise.
It could be depressing, but it's not.  After all, consider the alternative...

So, in this National Poetry Month I've been thinking back to my college years and early 20s.  The silly things I used to do that were so much fun.  Drive hours and hours to a Scottish Country dance or Highland Games in another state.  Spend weeks making period costumes for various re-enactment events.  Stay up until the wee hours playing Fictionary with friends.  Working at southern Renaissance Faire.  I was not a very effective Character player, but I liked the people, and making costumes.

Our games of Fictionary gradually morphed into something we called the Bad Poetry Game.  For your turn you chose a (hopefully obscure) word from the dictionary, and each person had to write a purposely bad poem using it.  We'd often find ourselves in hysterics at the sheer bad-ness we achieved.  Eventually this turned into just writing bad poetry and sharing it with others in our group.  These poems were often short and ephemeral.  I've lost many of them.  But here are two of my favorites...

A Costumed Man
Oh, give me a costumed man!
He enters the room with a flourish,
None else show a better polish.

His gallant bows upon the dance floor,
The set of his shoulders, shape of his leg,
Never for partners has he to beg.

He catches my eye, gives me a wink.
It's all I can do to even think!
He offers his hand, my head grows light.
I'm whirled away by the man in tights.


And this one, from my early days as a Scottish Country dancer.  It started as Bad Poetry, but I liked it and tried to work it into something better.  Not sure I succeeded, but I hope it at least partially captures the romance and enchantment of SCD I felt as a new dancer.

My First SCD Demo (3/1982)
Outside the hall it's raining. California's hills are winter green.
Inside, fluorescent lights set concrete floor to gleaming.
In pleated wool we hover backstage, nervous.
Waiting for the dance I gaze, sightless, at the back of your head.

Around you swirls an evening mist that fills far ancient glens.
Pipers drone and skirl, water slaps loch banks.
Figures drift in fog, a swing of plaid, bonfire glow,
Dull shine on claymore.

You feel my gaze and turn. Our eyes meet.
But I'm lost on a hill I've never seen.
You touch my shoulder -
smells of wood smoke and crushed heather become damp wool and old greasepaint.

A reel is called and we go out together,
into the fluorescent glare and glittering polyester.

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