Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Spend a few moments examining an old photograph—a found image, a photo from childhood, an iconic shot from history—and give it a title. Then put the photo aside and write a poem using this title.
How I came to be in the middle of the front row I’m not sure
Of Second Grade on a sunny day,
Which must have been a Tuesday
see all those Brownies?
Carl Johannsen isn’t in the picture because he spent
in a wheelchair, with polio.
Carl turned up years later in the same Mexican town
I lived in
But I never saw him there and only heard about his troubles with the law.
Two little Indian boys were just like me, my daddy told me;
They came from different tribes and
my skin was lighter
because of my Danish mama.
Miss Eaton was a homely old maid, who was mean and unhappy and
Like others of her ilk, lived a lonely and misled life.
The year after that was when Bobby Morgan would
poke me in the arm with a ballpoint,
leaving a tattoo that remains to this day. In this photo
he smirks at the camera, as if he was planning that deed.
David Thorsett killed himself when he was fifteen…
He couldn’t live with the shame of liking boys better than girls.
When we were in the Second Grade we
didn’t know it was odd when we both wanted to dress in
my mama’s old dresses,
wear lacy hats.
David got me into trouble for saying the
when we were nine, but we had no idea what it meant
or that it was bad.
Susan was the tallest girl. She lived her life
fully, played a game
I didn’t understand
called Tennis and was able to get by without committing suicide.
The other Sue was the Teacher’s Pet. I hope she’s happy now.
I wonder where some of these little children are
but mostly, I don’t really care. I’m glad
the nerds in that class grew up
to make a lot of money and get impressive degrees.