Monthly Archives: April 2014

Purgatory, Kentucky (4/7)

The ferry’s here. I guess I’ll drive on in.
I tell you if I’d known I’d have my truck
on this side of, well, whatever side I’m on,
I’d have done myself in sooner. Just my luck
the ignition switch is still a fussy thing
which I guess means this isn’t heaven.
I never really minded when it wouldn’t start,
just took the time to admire my good old Ford,
Bought it new in ’72, Grabber Blue,
What was there me and my girl couldn’t do?
My favorite thing I ever hauled? An outhouse
that my Mama did NOT want me to take away.
“When your crazy cousin Vernon visits,
I like to have a quiet place to pray.”
Keeping at it, might finish this crown of sonnets during National Poetry Month, just three more to go (but only two more days in April). (The others are in the category “Purgatory,Kentucky” and I’ll put them all together when I write #7). But it’s fun,even if I don’t finish in April, and I’m happy to have written another “car sonnet,” which is one of the big drivers of traffic on my blog, people Googling “car sonnets.” Hope this counts, even though it’s a truck. (NOTE: I no longer write sonnets whilst driving–now when I say “car sonnet” it means a sonnet with vehicular subject matter.)

Here’s a 1972 Ford truck, Grabber Blue. This is pretty much my dream vehicle.

Ferry on Highway 169 somewhere in Kentucky (a Creative Commons shot from Edlitmus on Flickr)

Ferry on Highway 169 somewhere in Kentucky
(a Creative Commons shot from Edlitmus on Flickr)

It’s Hard to Teach When Gollum’s in Your Class

It’s hard to teach when Gollum’s in your class.
He’s not the ideal student by any stretch,
but he’ll blame you if he doesn’t pass.

He’s very disruptive, all that muttering “my precious”
and small group work with him is just a bitch.
It’s hard to teach when Gollum’s in your class

because even saying Sméagol when you take attendance,
even smiling when you really want to screech,
you can be sure that he’ll blame you if he doesn’t pass.

He misses class a lot. Just vanishes.
Then swears he was too there. It’s hard to teach
the earnest students when Gollum’s in your class,

but you owe it to the ones who are not treacherous,
the step by by step by steps, the clear approach.
That rat-like monkey will blame you if he doesn’t pass,

but don’t dumb things down. Just do your best.
Backwards design might save you in a hitch.
It’s hard to teach if Gollum’s in your class,
but don’t blame yourself if he shall not pass.



If fish were learning outcomes, Gollum would get an A+.

If fish were learning outcomes, Gollum would get an A+.

(photo by Larry and Linda on Flickr, Creative Commons)

(OH that last line–“He shall not pass” sounds so foreordained and the teacher in me keeps hoping, hoping that Gollum will pull it together and squeak out a decent grade. But how can I not play on “shall not pass?” Decisions, decisions…)

Purgatory, Kentucky (3/7)

The young ones priss around and stew and fret,
yes, even here they do. I tell them to relax,
but I do recall what it was like, all fraught
with longing for a certain someone’s kiss,
the way a particular set of hard calluses
could raise a wave of shivers on my skin,
and one touch later heat me up fast,
so hot for more, I would do anything….
There is no profit in that kind of thought.
The man whose hands I speak of is not here.
I’ve grown restless all the sudden, not
full of life, I wouldn’t say, just bored.
Turns out I dislike it, this world without end.
The ferry’s here. I guess I’ll drive on in.

Ferry on Highway 169 somewhere in Kentucky (a Creative Commons shot from Edlitmus on Flickr)

Ferry on Highway 169 somewhere in Kentucky
(a Creative Commons shot from Edlitmus on Flickr)

For National Poetry Month, I’m trying to write a lot of poetry–I’ve given up on writing one every day, but still–trying to write a lot. I reviewed what I’d written last year and found Purgatory, Kentucky, which I’d TOTALLY forgotten about. So I decided I’d see if I could write a crown of sonnets. And I wrote #2 of 7 the other day. And now almost halfway around the crown with this one.

Nick Fury’s SUV

[SPOILER ALERT: If you have seen trailers for the movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” you’ve already seen this scene–I’m not giving anything else away here, other than what Chevy cars show up in the movie.]


“The air conditioning is fully operational.”

Computerized, attentive, the voice of the Tahoe
recites time estimates and is just being rational,
still gets a pretty big laugh before it’s thrown
in the air and then upside down by a bomb
when it answers Nick Fury’s angry request,
“What isn’t damaged?” The answer then becomes
that Chevrolet is a company he can trust.

Black Widow rumbles in a new Corvette
(though I swear I thought it said Porsche)
and an Impala gets its own solid scene.
This is product placement at its best.

Like Cap himself–it’s honest, direct, authentic,
as up-front as a Silverado truck.

Maybe I’ve become the ideal 21st century drone–I really don’t even mind the product placement in Captain America. I’m not sure how noticeable it would have been if 1)I hadn’t been trying to think of ways to write sonnets about cars because one of the big drivers for traffic on my blog is people who Google “car sonnet” and land on my category–which used to mean I started writing the sonnet in the car. Which I don’t do any more because it seems really obviously to be a case of distracted driving, even though I was pretty careful to do it only when there was next-to-zero traffic around. And 2)I hadn’t known I was going to see the movie twice, so I was letting myself pay attention to all kinds of everything the first time through.

It certainly wasn’t as awkward as the product placement in Back to the Future. COULD I HAVE A PEPSI?

And though I might be a drone about blithely noticing the Chevy vehicles in the movie, and while I would certainly accept a new Chevrolet in exchange for a fair number of product placements in my poetry, I doubt I’ll buy one. Of the cars I’ve owned, almost all have been Fords or Mercury products:
First car: Mercury Comet bought from my Aunt Toni. It was named Gloria & had a rust disease.
Next car: Mercury Comet bought from my Aunt Becky. It didn’t have a name or rust.
Next car: Mercury Zephyr.
(And then a Subaru Justy, which really shouldn’t count because it had only three cylinders and was totally totaled in a collision that would have caused only minor damage to my next vehicle,)
First truck: Ford Ranger, long bed.
(And then a VW Golf, which, regardless of paperwork, is actually my husband’s vehicle)
Current car: Ford Focus station wagon, silver, stick-shift.

It was my Gran’daddy who made me a Ford fan & that’s as permanent as being a Cardinals fan.
Here’s a fun article on the product placement which SPOILER ALERT actually does say a couple more things about the movie you won’t know from trailers, and it also has the fun commercial with kids pretending to be Black Widow and Captain America.

NaPoWriMo stats: I wrote poems on April 1, 2, and 3, but posted only a couple of those. Then didn’t write on April 4 or 5. Then here. Honestly? Not too worried about 100-percenting it. Just glad to write a little more.


(not sure how to credit this image which is all over & clearly an ad for Chevy & the movie)

(not sure how to credit this image which is all over & clearly an ad for Chevy & the movie)

And you know, really, I’m remembering this car as having rounder front-end and butt. But I’m sure if everyone’s saying it was this car and it’s a Corvette, that’s really what it is and I must’ve just been revising it in my head based on the shape of the woman driving it.

Purgatory, Kentucky (a crown of sonnets?)

Last April I wrote a fair bit towards the NaPoWriMo goal of writing a poem a day during National Poetry Month, including the sonnet called “Purgatory, Kentucky” in honor of and gratitude for doing a poetry reading at UW-Manitowoc.

This year, I’m shooting for writing a new one each day, or revising one. It’s 9:52 p.m. and I haven’t written a poem today yet.

Can I write a sonnet to follow the original “Purgatory, Kentucky” piece? Could I do a crown (7 sonnets where the last line of one is the first line of the next one, until you’ve done 7 and come full circle).

Less see:

This ain’t hell. Of that I am assured.
Would there be apple pie corn whiskey or
this nice soft chair if I was to be tortured
for now and all time to come after?
You might say yes, but I think not. No way.
I will allow to having had odd dreams.
But nothing scary, really. Nothing mean.
Just weird. Like a long old nap in the middle of the day.
There’s not much else to do. I could reflect
on all my trials and tribulations, the error
of my ways, but where would be the profit in that?
The wicked queen’s mistake was looking in the mirror.
She couldn’t rest in her own head and let
the young ones priss around and stew and fret.

Why yes, yes I can. Can write a sonnet before sleeping, anyway. We’ll see about the crown. And I do intend to do some revising this April. Just not tonight.

Here’s an image my beloved made for a poster for an event from a while back, Speak Easy Love Hard, which reminds me of the tone of these Purgatory, Kentucky poems:


At Least More Immune

It was a flu bug of panic,
a bad cold of shame,
and mostly I’m over it,
but it comes back again

like a lingering cough,
a fever at night,
and I almost expect it,
but I can’t manage tough

stances and logical self-talk
right when I want to
not each time I want to
even though I know I need to

become immune.

At least more immune.

A Kafka t-shirt to launch NaPoWriMo in which I will post a poem every day until I don’t, either a new poem or a revision.