POETIC BLOOMINGS

POETIC BLOOMINGS is a Phoenix Rising Poetry Guild site established in May 2011 to nurture and inspire the creative spirit.

MEMOIR-ish (Barbara Young in 15 Poems) by Barbara Yates Young

bycover

–contents–

prompt 1–who do you think you are?

who do you think you are barbara ellen young?………………………………………………1

prompt 2–look what I did

the accomplishment………………………………..………………………….……………….2

prompt 4–with a little help from my friends

the friends……………………………………………………..……….………………….……..3

prompt 6–food for thought

the food………………………………………………………….………………………………4

prompt 8–death be not proud

the last things………………………………………………….………………………………..5

prompt 9–my love affair with…

the love affair(s)……………………………………………….…………..…………………….6

prompt 11–road trip

the door to adventure…………………………………………..………………………………7

prompt 13–mamma mia

the question………………………………………………………….…………………………8

prompt 14–hanging out

the Honky-Tonk-Dive-Cold-Beer-Corner-Bar…………………………………..……………9

prompt 15–the big event

the assassination…………………………………………………….……….…………..….10

prompt 16–just wait until your father gets home

the description……………………………………………………………………….……….11

prompt 17–the most important day of my life

the dawning………………………………………………………………………………….12

prompt 18–sibling revelry

the bro……………………………………………………………………………………..…13

prompt 19–coulda, woulda, shoulda…

the correction ………………………………………………………………….……………14

prompt 20–famous last words

i don’t know………………………………………………………………….………………15

-i-

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who do you think you are barbara ellen young?

Because you ask Who? and use the word “think” I
Am the person who
Reasons: Not What, Where, How, When, Why
But: Who? Which is indefinable. I
Am me. Me. Just this
Recombined chemical equation of dinners
And chocolate and unsweet iced tea

Excited by jet engines passing right to
Left and a blue-black cat passing
Left to right, who wrote
Enough of an answer the first time, but
Not

Yet enough, having left
Out the crack in the vase. It doesn’t hold water, is
Useless for hope, and so
Needs dried herbs
Glass marbles, and artifice.

-1-

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 the accomplishment

once
…I followed the railroad and crossed a bridge
taking long strides from tie to tie.
…I made pots, beginning with soupy mud,
finishing with glaze I’d compounded myself
from raw minerals.
…and once, dressed as I thought a poet
should dress–in black
and black
and black–I read
to a crowded room with spotlights a poem
I’d won a prize for in high school (a prize
I had been too shy to collect) to
sweet applause.

-2-

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 the friends

Arnie and Ray
punning over dinner
taught me words could play.

-3-

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 the food

Simple, to say a word
“Bread”
or write:
“a fresh fig”
“a dripping peach”
“homegrown tomato”
Simple, even, to be particular, as:
banana pudding, Aunt Harriet’s,
still warm from the oven, heaped
so high the bottom-most vanilla wafers sigh
and forget about their figures
into an enormous, yellow, bowl and set
just off center to the east
onto the scrub-worn oilcloth–floral, once–
covering a long table
with a bottom-smoothed bench along the window side,
four ladderback cane seat chairs opposite
and one on either end
in that indeterminate summer year
when we were back, cold from swimming,
and the air was stinking sweet with hay and honeysuckle
and everyone I ever knew was still alive

Impossible
to recall absent flavors

-4-

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 the last things

Death has never been in the room with me.
Across the hall, yes; or gone before I arrived.
The body of my grandfather lay in the front bedroom
–away from the wood stove–a day, and a night,
and part of a day, but his essence
had been gone for years.
Dogs die. And kittens. Chickens get their necks wrung
for dinner. Turkeys drown, looking up at the rain. I
set a baby duck in a galvanized wash tub to swim
and came back to find it drowned. My only death
to mean more than loss.

-5-

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

 the love affair(s)

Love affairs?
Oh, spare me. Affairs are so crass. So
back door. More properly say
I’ve engaged in serial
monogamy.
(even in promiscuity
I committed myself
entirely to every single
one
night
stand.

When I was young, it was horses, and about horses
I bought books.
Then it was college. As everyone knows about college:
I bought books.
When I fell into fantasy–hobbits and space ships, dragons,
British cozies, shrouded moor romances
–I didn’t only inhale them:
I bought
all
the books.

Beyond the pony shelves,
and the mysteries
and fantasies,
I’ve had libraries on weeds,
and libraries on beads and making jewelry;
on ESP; on gardening and gardening tools; tarot,
I Ching; cameras; polymer clay, paper maché;
book-making, box-making; poetry.
Public libraries are never enough.
When you read: possession
is nine points
of love.

-6-

 _______________________________________________________________________________________________

the door to adventure

We did not ever explore the Grand Canyon,
or go, and bring back a hundred slides from
Canada, or Washington, D.C. Some summers
we’d drive to a SeaBee reunion for a weekend,
but there were never family vacations. What
we did, instead, when I was old enough,
was to fish, going first to my grandmother’s.
The grownups would talk by the light of one
hanging bulb, and I would read Farm Living,
and frayed old Reader’s Digests, then sleep.
This is hard to convey, but being wakened
in the deepest night, to dress and go to the car
was more exciting than Christmas, and I would
stand in the starlight, no sounds but my parents
moving downstairs, and maybe a night bird
or barking fox. And I would shiver so hard
you would think I would come apart, or that
my chattering teeth would break. And you might
think I was cold but, no, it was the night
and the silver stars, and the not knowing.

 -7-

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 the question

My mother has been gone, now,
for as long as I knew her. If I could
go back to her, what could I change?

 -8-

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

 the Honky-Tonk-Dive-Cold-Beer-Corner-Bar

It’s not about winning, really:
Pinball, bar pinball, in a no-gambling state only pays in more play.
“For Amusement Only” signs and stamps and stickers
clutter the corner. Success is not an avalanche of coin.
The wins just click, adding each won game. Big wins click on,
and on, and on and the room gets quiet, waiting.
But it’s not about winning, despite the under-the-counter
payoff. It’s the Body English, the lean, the jazz, the gentle
isometric play of influencing the game without
shoving the machine through the wall. Tilt.
There is a subtle elegance to the old machines.
Plunger pulled and released, a steel ball shoots
up the arching chute then follows the slanting
gravity down bouncing from pin to pin to winning
or losing. I could say my hangout then was Red’s,
or the Wooden Nickle, Burger Boy, Villager,
Springwater, Amy’s; but the door was unimportant.
The surround, decor, the ambiance a background
peripheral blur. Smoke; jukebox or live guitars;
long “O”s, flat “A”s, “R”s hard or ignored altogether;
miscues, scratches, hang on the cup; bets; fights;
stumbles and broken bottles are all behind me.
A bar stool, an ashtray, a cold one (two, three, four)
and the old Bally are my universe. And it’s not, really,
about winning.

-9-

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

the assassination

What stunned the world in Nineteen Sixty-Three,
assassination, I documented
on round-cornered notebook paper
between Chemistry and Spanish
with my first bad pun
we are temporarily un-precedented.

 -10-

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the description

my father was a closed book, a box
sealed from the inside. he had freckles.
my father was a handshake and warm greeting,
a cheerful disagreement. his hands
were twisted from pipe, and stained black. my father
was hours of silence. his eyes were blue.
my father was respect for effort and ability. he
liked to fish. on the weekend before I left
for college, in the car alone with me, he
began singing: From this valley they say you are going.
We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile,
For they say you are taking the sunshine
That has brightened our pathway a while.
my father was a polite guest, a helpful
neighbor. his hair was fine, light brown.

 -11-

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 the dawning

nothing like the blues
pill after pill
after pill after
pill after day after day
day day day
then one day, halfway through morning
(like two dozen dozen mornings before,
but)
it was as if sitting at the computer
I nodded off for a split second, suddenly waking
and noticing, oh,
I’m alive.

 -12-

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 the bro

How could the same kid
I set like a cat in my bicycle basket,
and flew down hills all over Crieve Hall;
the kid I taught
to pick up pennies with his toes,
and bounced with in superman circles
from sofa to marble-top table to chair
–such a smart, funny little dork–
how could such a great little kid
become Republican?

-13-

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 the correction

to ask for help
you could build
a superstar, a troubadour, inventor,
artist, philosopher
by taking my wrong turns, and learning
from the questions
I didn’t know how to ask.

 -14-

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

 i don’t know

i don’t know…
but: it’s possible
i may have
this one
little
flaw.
It could be that
i have a problem
expressing
fact as unqualified fact. (And as
to opinions:
hope i’ve got them
whittled
down so small
i’m [probably] not offending
[m]anyone
.)

-15-

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