On Straightening Up and Flying Right, an Abecedarian Poem


Thanks to fellow blogger Alice Massa for inspiring me to post this again. It was published in Magnets and Ladders several years ago, and I posted it here at that time. In this recent post, Alice encourages her readers to write an abecedarian about summer. I wrote this one several years ago. It’s not exactly about summer, but it will do.

When my father died several years ago, my brother and I performed the song that inspired this poem at his celebration of life with me on piano and vocals and my brother on drums. Without my brother and his drums, I can’t re-produce that version, but here’s Nat King Cole’s rendition, which is a lot better.

Below the video, you’ll find the WordPress player application, and when you press the Play button there, you’ll hear me read the poem. The printed version is below that. This form of poetry is called an abecedarian because the first letter of each line starts with a consecutive letter of the alphabet. Needless to say, this poem is 26 lines. You’ll note that the beginning letter of each line is in bold. In my recorded reading, I emphasize the first word of each line. Enjoy!

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On Straightening Up and Flying Right

A buzzard and a monkey wouldn’t fly together
because a monkey wouldn’t be stupid enough to
climb on a buzzard’s back, a buzzard being a
dirty bird with no morals.
Everybody knows that monkeys don’t
fly–buzzards do. I would
guess that monkeys associate with monkeys.
Heaven knows why the song was written. What an
imagination someone must have to
justify writing it—but with
knowledge of values, one would believe that there’s a
logical message here. The
monkey makes a point when telling the buzzard
not to blow his top and to do right.
Of course, not blowing your top and doing right are important.
People who are angry blow their tops, but the
question is do these people not do
right? I’ve blown my top a few times.
Still, I try to do the right thing. I
think that even the best of us,
under certain circumstances, blow our tops. It’s not
very unusual, but back to the monkey and the buzzard.
Why would a monkey allow a buzzard to take him for a ride? It doesn’t require
x-ray vision to determine that a buzzard is smaller than the average monkey.
You should realize that a monkey would be safer riding a
zebra. He wouldn’t have far to fall.

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If you’d like to try writing an abecedarian poem, check out Alice’s guidelines linked to above. The basic idea is to write a 26-line poem with the first letter of each line starting with a consecutive letter of the alphabet. This can be tricky. Good luck. I’d love to read what you come up with, either on your own blog with a link here or in the comments field below.
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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Reblog: Lessons from Dad


Here’s an oldie but a goody from several yeras ago. Enjoy, and Happy Father’s Day.

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Lessons from Dad

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Saturday Song: Nat King Cole–Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer


It’s the second day of June, and summer days are upon us. Here’s a song to get us in a summer mood. Clouds may be threatening where you are, but let’s start thinking summer. Enjoy, and have a great Saturday.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Lessons Learned from Dad Re-Visited

Note: I’m re-blogging this post from June 2013. Dad passed away two months after this went live. Enjoy, and happy Father’s Day.

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My fondest childhood memories are of Dad and me listening to music together. Dad loved to play the old standards on those scratchy long-playing records by such artists as Fats Waller and Nat King Cole. These songs taught me lessons that I’m pretty sure Dad wanted me to learn.

If “The Joint is Jumpin,” you’re going to get in trouble. No man will like you if “Your Feet’s Too Big.” You’d better “Straighten Up and Fly Right.” I also learned to appreciate “Seafood, Mama” but not until I was an adult.

Dad also tried to teach me the value of money. He thought he’d succeeded until I sold my wheelchair accessible van last month because Bill was gone, and I no longer needed it. George, who responded to my ad, asked if I could take a thousand dollars off the asking price because the switch on the back of the vehicle that automatically opened the doors to the lift didn’t work, and the lift needed to be re-sized to fit his electric wheelchair. Because he appeared to be in desperate need of this vehicle, I agreed. Dad was livid. He claimed that it wouldn’t have cost a thousand dollars to fix these problems, but what he didn’t understand was a lesson I didn’t learn from him.

Although money is important, being helped and passing on that good deed to another is more valuable. Several years ago, Bill and I really wanted a van we could use to go places at night and on weekends when the local paratransit service wasn’t running. We were lucky to find someone willing to sell us such a vehicle at a price we could afford. When George came to my home in response to my ad, I could tell right away he was in the position we were in several years ago. I didn’t really need that extra thousand dollars, and he needed the van.

I leave you now with another lesson I did learn from Dad via Louis Armstrong. Despite the hateful things going on around us, we live in a “Wonderful World.” To my dad and others reading this, I hope you have a special Father’s Day.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

Musical Lessons from Dad

Note: In celebration of Father’s Day, I’ve revised and am re-blogging a post from June of 2013, the year my father passed away. He was still alive when this was posted.

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My fondest childhood memories are of Dad and me listening to music together. Dad loved to play old standards on scratchy long-playing records by such artists as Fats Waller and Nat King Cole. These songs taught me lessons I’m sure Dad wanted me to learn.

If “The Joint is Jumpin’,” you’ll get in trouble. No man will like you if “Your Feet’s Too Big.” You’d better “Straighten Up and Fly Right.” I also learned to appreciate “Seafood, Mama” but not until I was an adult.

There’s one more lesson I learned from my father via Louis Armstrong. Despite the hateful things going on around us, we live in a “Wonderful World.” To all dads out there, I hope you have a special Father’s Day.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

 

 

In Loving Memory of Dad

My father passed away last year, and I’d almost forgotten about Father’s Day. This morning after reading blogger Alice Massa’s post in which she shares an acrostic poem about her father, I decided to re-blog a post from last year. It’s pasted below. I hope all fathers reading this have a special day Sunday.

Lessons Learned from Dad

My fondest childhood memories are of Dad and me listening to music together. Dad loved to play the old standards on those scratchy long-playing records by such artists as Fats Waller and Nat King Cole. These songs taught me lessons that I’m pretty sure Dad wanted me to learn.

If “The Joint is Jumpin,” you’re going to get in trouble. No man will like you if “Your Feet’s Too Big.” You’d better “Straighten Up and Fly Right.” I also learned to appreciate “Seafood, Mama” but not until I was an adult.

Dad also tried to teach me the value of money. He thought he’d succeeded until I sold my wheelchair accessible van last month because Bill was gone, and I no longer needed it. George, who responded to my ad, asked if I could take a thousand dollars off the price because the switch on the back of the vehicle that automatically opened the doors to the lift didn’t work, and the lift needed to be re-sized to fit his electric wheelchair. Because he appeared to be in desperate need of this vehicle, I agreed. Dad was livid. He claimed that it wouldn’t have cost a thousand dollars to fix these problems, but what he didn’t understand was a lesson I didn’t learn from him.

Although money is important, being helped and passing on that good deed to another is more valuable. Several years ago, Bill and I really wanted a van we could use to go places at night and on weekends when the local paratransit service wasn’t running. We were lucky to find someone willing to sell us such a vehicle at a price we could afford. When George came to my home in response to my ad, I could tell right away he was in the position we were in several years ago. I didn’t really need that extra thousand dollars, and he needed the van.

I leave you now with another lesson I did learn from Dad via Louis Armstrong. Despite the hateful things going on around us, we live in a “Wonderful World.” To my dad and others reading this, I hope you have a special Father’s Day.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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