The long home

That my uncle would scream.

That he would scream at all hours with his grandchildren downstairs.

The curtains drawn, the dormers dark and alive with death and my uncle, restrained and unrestrained, working the limits.

º º º

At my aunt’s funeral, my uncle called my name. That was all.

It was spring when she died. My uncle lived to not see another spring summer fall, to not open a blind. We buried him in the cold.

Walking through the graveyard, the journeyman qua nurse, my cousin’s hire, regales us with my uncle’s last two years.

º º º

The silver cord, the golden bowl, the long home. The cord slips, the bowl cracks, the long home.

The silver chord, the scratched CD that plays a snatch of song again, again. Where will death’s foreplay scratch me, scratch me?

On what will I fix, what neuronal lifeline, my golden bowl at sea?


“Trill” are my Twitters. Tweet suites from @slowreads.

Emotional narratives

A lyric poem progresses, but how? The concept of emotional narratives has helped my students enjoy poems, recite poems, write poems, and write about poems.

Our ninth-grade curriculum reinforces the stages of narrative: exposition, initiating event, rising action, etc. My students get that. And plot progression is a nice, concrete set of stairs for students to climb to something more abstract, or at least more subtle. Lyric poems feel like they move, but the shifts often involve tone instead of time or place.

Check out “Lesson Plan: The Tone Map” starting on page 20 of this year’s Poetry Out Loud teacher’s guide. The referenced CD is free, but you don’t need it to learn the lesson yourself.

Once you get through “Jenny Kissed Me,” try your new skills on another lyric poem in which, roughly speaking, nothing happens. Maybe keep it seasonal: here’s my favorite snow poem — Kenneth Patchen’s “The Snow Is Deep on the Ground.”