I’m a Featured Reader at this month’s Barnes & Noble Bookstore / Eugene Poetry Foundation “BURNIN’ DOWN THE BARNES !!” event. My co-reader is a brilliant high school freshman I’ve had the pleasure and honor of mentoring a bit over the past couple of years.
Decisions about what poems to read, arranging them in a good flow, balancing the deep and the funny ones, are a bigger task than the actual on-stage time. I’ve taught poetry classes, coached others on how to read aloud, emotion and emoting. Each time I’m involved in an event like this, I go back to Step 1 myself and take a deep breath.
We’ll each have half an hour to present our own work, followed by an hour of “open mic” time, where the audience can read their own poems. I’ve invited several shy poetic friends to attend, and consider reading.
It’s a terrific way to wade into the stream of sharing, and Eugene has one of the most amazing, supportive collection of people who listen well, encourage new poets (of all ages), and appreciate everyone’s efforts.
I love the writing relationship we have as the Poetic Muselings: the synergy, energy, creativity, aha! moments, insights, and fun. As I pull my collection together, I always ask each of my Sister Muselings for a poem to read. Our approaches to life are reflected in the material they contribute.
This year, in addition to her own poem, Anne sent me one that I’m going to lead with — reflecting a universal I wish I’d written.
It’s too good to keep to myself, and I want the world to learn about the poet, read her blog, and laugh at:
An Ode To The Overwhelmed
And as you stand there
Because you forgot to allow time to park
And the elevator was slow
And you left 10 minutes late to begin with
With your shoes that pinch
And your pants that are a little too small
Since you started eating white bread again
And as you paw through your bag
Looking for the suite number
That you’re not sure you wrote down to
Let us now praise you.
You, the untidy.
You, the careless.
You, the easily distracted by sparkly things.
The money you spend on late fees alone
Could feed a family in Africa – Which
reminds you that you meant to send in the
kids’ Unicef money and
And that despite your best efforts,
You rarely eat a square meal,
You almost never get enough sleep
And exercise seems like a word that
magazines have developed
Just to make you feel bad about yourself.
But you are good and brave.
You, flying by the seat of your pants
Making it work
Putting out fires
Saying your prayers
And dancing your dance of now and later and
As innocent as each morning’s sunrise,
You are a fount of good intentions.
Your good humor is as graceful as a baby
Even if that joke you were trying to make to
the hotel clerk fell flat
And your toast at the wedding came out
sounding a little…funny.
But you have gifts that no one knows about.
You have the strength to bend in the wind
You have the joyful spirit that loves a good
You have the wisdom to understand that
everything will all come out all right in the
You have the faith to light a candle rather
than curse the darkness.
That is, if you could find the book of
matches from that romantic restaurant that
you went to for your anniversary but since
you didn’t have a reservation they made you
wait at the bar for half an hour during which
you had two appletinis and the rest of the
night is a bit of a blur.
So much for the overpriced lingerie.
You are beautiful.
You are beautiful.
Frazzled and overworked and underpaid
You are the one who forgot your wallet
And forgot your receipt for the dry cleaners
And forgot your keys which you just set
down five seconds ago, so where could they
possibly have gone?
But you never forget to say, “I love you”
And you never forget to give a big smile to
that nice parking guy
And you never fail to show endless patience
Too-tightly wrapped and overly-
conscientious start to offer their
Oh-so-helpful suggestions about how you
might feel better if you would just learn to
alphabetize your spice rack.
You are beautiful.
So, wear the lingerie on Monday for no
And why not just refuse to participate in the
bake sale this year?
And give yourself a compliment for
something you did well today.
Because you are the most beautiful person
I’ve ever known.
© 2014 Samantha Bennett
Dive, don’t surf, her blog: TheOrganizedArtistCompany.com.
Caveat: prepare to add your own verse to her poem, because, inevitably, you WILL end up missing something else going on in your life, but you’ll have an ever-so-good-reason-for-why . . .