I can’t think of a better way to commemorate Independence Day than to re-blog a book review I posted here last year. Not only do I discuss a book about the creation of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but I also sing the song. Enjoy, and have a happy and safe Fourth of July!
A couple of years ago, I wrote the following poem for a contest sponsored by National Braille Press, but it didn’t win. So, I submitted it to The Avocet, and to my surprise, it appeared in this week’s online issue. You can click on the title to hear me read it.
Here’s a poem I wrote several years ago about something my father and I loved doing together. It was published in Magnets and Ladders. You can click on the title to hear me read it. Below the poem is a video of the song mentioned in the poem. Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there.
As the piano’s base notes
imitate baby elephant patter,
I stomp my six-year-old feet in time,
while sitting on the couch
across from Dad, sprawled in his easy chair,
his nose in a book.
He looks up, chuckles.
As Fats Waller sings no praises
to a woman’s over-sized feet,
I stand, stomp around the den.
Dad sings along–I giggle.
As the song crescendos
with blaring saxophone and trumpet,
I lift my feet,
bring them to the floor with purpose.
The record has other songs:
“The Joint is Jumpin’,” “Seafood, Mama,”
but my little feet always stomp in time
whenever I hear Fats say, “Your Feet’s Too Big.”
The contributors to this anthology, me included, are from around the world. Poems cover a variety of topics. Some are abstract while others are more straightforward. Most are free verse, but some use traditional forms. My contribution, “Alley Cat Detective,” can be read on my blog here.
I enjoyed reading many of the diverse poems in this book. The poem I submitted was inspired by a prompt to write about something unusual. I encourage you to read it at the link above. If you like it, I hope you’ll buy the anthology and read many more poems like it.
It’s wrong to ask someone for help.
You should never ever play with matches.
You shouldn’t let people see your underwear.
Don’t spit food out of your mouth.
Don’t throw up all over the floor.
Don’t say, “damn,” “shit,” “fuck,” or “hell.”
Don’t ever drink the water in Mexico.
Now it’s your turn. The above poem contains seven lines, each with seven words and is about seven things I learned not to do when I was growing up. Write your own such poem. It doesn’t have to be about seven deadly sins. It could be about seven favorite foods or songs. Please share your poem on your own blog or in the comment field below. I look forward to reading it.
Today, I’m giving you a two-for-one special. Not only will I sing a song with a powerful message for graduates but I’ll also read a poem I wrote several years ago that I share with those in my life who are graduating. This year, my niece Ana in Florida and my cousin Darby in Colorado are graduating from high school and college respectively.
In The Sound of Music, the Reverend Mother sings this song to Maria, encouraging her to follow her heart. At the end, the song serves as a background for the family’s escape from Nazi-occupied Austria. When I was in fifth grade at the Arizona State School for the Deaf & Blind, I sang in the school choir, and we performed this song for the commencement ceremony at the end of the year. Ana, Darby, and anyone else graduating this year, this poem and song are for you.
Go out into the world–never look back.
Reach for the top–always look forward.
Aim as high as you can.
Dream as big as possible.
Use your mind, heart, hands,
and know you can do anything.
Trust your instincts.
Energize your life.
What do you remember about graduation? Did you receive gifts from family and friends? Were you in the school choir that performed during the commencement ceremony? What song did the choir sing?