It’s Poem in Your Pocket Day. A wonderful addition to National Poetry Month – another fun way to integrate poetry into your life. There are so many ways to celebrate – print a copy of your favorite poem and carry it in your pocket throughout the day. Share it with friends, or read it to yourself. Maybe make a few copies and hand them out, or leave them in public places. (check out all the other ways to play on the poetry.org website.)
I’m sharing a few of my own, starting with the first poem that really grabbed me as a kid: the delicious Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle Received from a Friend Called Felicity, and a choice selection by Rumi, and the former Rhode Island Poet Laurate Lisa Starr.
Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle
Received from a Friend Called Felicity
By John Tobias
During that summer
When unicorns were still possible;
When the purpose of knees
Was to be skinned;
When shiny horse chestnuts
Fitted with straws
Crammed with tobacco
Stolen from butts
In family ashtrays)
Were puffed in green lizard silence
While straddling thick branches
Far above and away
From the softening effects
During that summer–
Which may never have been at all;
But which has become more real
Than the one that was–
Thick, pink, imperial slices
Melting frigidly on sun-parched tongues
Dribbling from chins;
Leaving the best part,
The black bullet seeds,
To be spit out in rapid fire
Against the wall
Against the wind
Against each other;
And when the ammunition was spent,
There was always another bite:
It was a summer of limitless bites,
Of hungers quickly felt
And quickly forgotten
With the next careless gorging.
The bites are fewer now.
Each one is savored lingeringly,
But in a jar put up by Felicity,
The summer which maybe never was
Has been captured and preserved.
And when we unscrew the lid
And slice off a piece
And let it linger on our tongue:
Unicorns become possible again.
And then there is this, by Rumi (which many may recognize from an oft quoted line within it …):
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
And finally, this one, by the wonderful poet Lisa Starr – a friend of a friend who I got to meet a few years back at the wonderful Dodge Poetry Festival – called Because.
Lately she’s been falling in love everywhere—
at the market, in the pharmacy, always in the cafeteria
sliding her tray over the metal rails,
last week with the hands of the attendant at a gas station.
It’s not right, she knows, but still, she can’t help it.
Sometimes it happens all day long.
Yesterday at the campus it was everything again—
The way the postmaster, on lunch break, went whistling past,
or how the frisbee players sing the quad.
The way some students stay after class, that usually gets her.
Cashiers, people who sing at stop lights—all fair game.
Cab drivers—forget it.
With ice cream scoopers, with their little paper hats,
it is often love at first sight,
and she will never forget the boy at the sandwich shop—
the way he said “miss, would you like anything to drink?”
to the 80-year-old woman in front of her,
then when it was her turn said “Ma’am” instead.
Later today, blessed by all this loving
she will make some tea and play a violin concerto
for her dog who is deaf.
She will play the music as loud as it will go
because she can, and because somehow, he’ll hear it
and he will stand on the porch of the fine yellow house,
She will be all choked up
because the lawn chairs
have never been this white before
and because, tired ears flapping
in a soft Autumn breeze,
the old dog will bark back his joy.
Now … how ’bout you throw-down a few lines about what these may bring up … or about your favorite poem. Or whatever you like.