Busting out All over your nice clean suit. Who am I? I am poetry, and let’s get one thing straight.
I am not reserved.I am not reserved for anyone – Not dead white men Scribbling away with quill pens Not women in crisp black suits Sipping champagne in big city art centers. I got nothing against them, (I do enjoy a black-tie night now and again,) But don’t you hang a reserved sign on me. This table has chairs and pens enough for everyone. I am too many things to be reserved for Any one thing Any one body Any one world. I am your best day And your worst. I’m the bright-light joy Of brand new babies Breathing air for the first time, Crying out, Hearing words – gushes, rushes of language Life, super-charged. I am hands-touch, first-kiss E-lectricity And all the muddled up Jumbled up messes that come after. I am the dark-night-dying-red, Close-your-eyes and scream pain Of towers falling. Over and over Rewind- replay- still ends the same way When all we have are words That weep. Everybody knows pain And everybody knows joy.
The wonder of crocus shoots And chocolate frogs Stars that shoot across the sky So fast you’re not even sure They were real. But they were. So I am not reserved. If you need to slap that sign on me You just add a note at the bottom In magic marker or crayon, maybe Make it say “Reserved for the old and the young The rich and the poor Hearts laughing or crying Or almost too angry to write. Reserved for Whole Mad World.” That’ll do. Because I am poetry. And I am out-going – Out going on subways and buses In school kids’ lunch bags And playground rhymes On the lips of farmers praising early spring And mothers whispering late-night feedings I am out-going Going out – Going out to preach and party and mourn Going out to grow the blades of grass Sing them up into springtime Words breathe oxygen, sure as they make sounds. I am poetry, and – What’s that? My time is up? I see the buffet table’s ready So I’ll step down. But I’ll never be quiet Know that much. You’ll hear me out there, Crying when you are, too. Screaming injustice till somebody listens, Laughing at bawdy jokes In my too-bright red suspenders. You’ll see me pointing to that sunrise the color of berries, That leaf that looks like an old man’s face, That girl in the corner with dreams, Whispering Look. Pay attention. See. Thanks for coming today. Enjoy this feast of words. And when it’s over, You go on out. And make a poem. Do it. Make a poem of your own.
Copyright 2012, Kate Messner
A note about sharing poems online: Teachers – Feel free to share this poem with your students, no special permission needed. Bloggers – If you’d like to share this poem with your readers, please do so by quoting a short excerpt and linking to the full version here. Thanks – and happy National Poetry Month!