For maximum hypocrisy after my last post about not enjoying poetry, here’s a poem I wrote. It’s about rural Oklahoma, and became the basis for the aesthetic of the novel I’m writing at the moment. More updates about that later.
This poem is based on a trip I took to Hitchcock, Oklahoma with my girlfriend after my Grandfather died. I spent a lot of time there as a child, and it was weird going back.
My big red sneakers cover the old small footprints I made
In the dusty white gypsum of my Grandfather’s land,
I’m not sure if I belong here anymore.
The days were always long and sunny when I was there.
My triceratops radio played fuzzy notes, that far out,
Circular and golden and shining in the midday sun.
I swung my feet off the edge of the truck as we drove
Toward the outskirts of the outskirts, dipping old Lures
Into a sparkling brown little pond, surrounded
By miles of green pasture and slowly lumbering cows,
Brown and black and white. The winter wheat lined
The edges of the big, big world.
Today, going back, the world seems just as big and far
Reaching, but am I fooling myself? The fence, the roses
My grandmother planted are gone, ripped out. The Grass
is growing up and sprouting past the white rocks
Of the driveway, forgotten and left to cover everything.
My orange and purple Huffy bike had rickety looking
Training wheels, and I thought maybe I never needed
Them in the first place, like they were there to make me feel
Safe – but my father held the back of the seat when
We took them off, and that was enough until I could
Do it myself, there on the cracked asphalt of Thompson
Street. It was hot and the spinach can (just an old water
Tower that my mother and I had named so) stood
Up in the distance, shining and blue. The purple and
Orange of my bike leaned against the dull rusted tin
Of the chicken coop. Light peeked out through The branches
Of a pear tree. I broke a branch off and tilted at the tree trunks,
Sword fighting invisible enemies.
The grass is brown now and the winter wheat has yet to sprout
From the red dirt. The sky is blue and cold, and the swingset
Around the old crumbling bricks of the High School squeaks
In the wind. The windows are covered with “No Trespassing.”
A little stream of water, a river to me, flowed down the hill
From the gutter and down into the forgotten playground.
The high school was defunct, but Poppy owned the keys.
The doors creaked as my mother lead me down a dusty
Hallway, and up squeaky stairs to a library full of old books
That nobody wanted, but I wanted them. We filled boxes
With the old tomes, with Berenstein and Seuss,
And other names I didn’t know. Little shafts of light
Came through the painted windows. Outside the wind blew
An old steel merry-go-round and broken barns stand
On huge flats of grass, with pygmy horses and animals
Never meant for farm work.
We’re driving home and we stop and get a word find —
What was my Grandfather’s favorite puzzle — at the grocery store.
The magazine rack is outdated, with magazines from 2008.
Hitchcock lays behind me, much the same as it was,
Standing in its usual state of disrepair — rotting wood,
Flat, unchanging land — its suspended decay, minus