JIM DAVIS: Poetry Muse Makes an Appearance
Ever since I was a little boy, a poetry Muse has been lurking inside me, clamoring for expression.
The Greeks had one too. They called her Erato, the Muse of lyric and erotic poetry. I've never thought much about it, but if I were going to name my Muse, I don't think I'd call her Erato.
Not that I have anything against Greek names, but I'd like my Muse to be called something distinctly American. Shirley, maybe. "Shirley the Muse" has a nice ring to it.
My very first attempt at poetry occurred when I was about five. I hadn't started school yet, and I had all this time on my hands, so I took up poetry. Here is my first poem in its entirety, delivered to my mother with all the dignity a five-year-old could muster:
The snow is falling from the sky, but why, why, why?
You would have to have known my mother to understand her reaction when she heard the poem. It was as if I had become the next Longfellow or Coleridge, with a dash of Walt Whitman thrown in.
Before her stood a 5-year-old Lord Byron, in the person of her second son. Unfortunately, that poem was one of the last things I ever did that sent my mother into paroxysms of joy, but that's another story.
Then I entered what I like to call my "Dark Period," poetrywise. Through my teen years, I wrote several little rhymes, but nothing memorable. It was not until I was 18 or 19 that my Muse awoke again. I wrote a poem that was delivered with a birthday gift for a family friend, an avid fisherman. My father bought him 1,000 fishing worms, neatly packaged in a leakproof, covered container. Here is the poem:
I'm certain that you've noticed, as you're fishing in a brook,
How a little bass'll rassle with a worm upon a hook
So I'm handing you a present for some lucky little squirt.
Here's a thousand luscious dinners in a pound of wormy dirt.
That effort was received with all the cheers and uproar it deserved. My aunt cried. The guest of honor, with a little laugh, said, "How nice." For him, that was high praise indeed. He was a brain surgeon, and as we all know, it's not easy to make a brain surgeon laugh when he's not working.
Then began my "Erotic Period." I wrote some obscene limericks to be recited or sung at after-hours fraternity parties at Penn State. I also composed a tribute to one of Marilyn's friends on her birthday. It was very funny, but unfortunately it's unfit for publication in a family newspaper. It's hermetically sealed in the family vaults.
Lately I've been reduced to writing harmless little bits of birthday poetry for family and friends. None of these efforts is particularly impressive. I've even tried writing some country song lyrics, some of which I think are pretty good, but no one has seen them. They're clean, and maybe that's the problem. I should create something really salacious and smutty; in today's permissive climate it would undoubtedly be a hit.
Now I'm in my "Slumber Period." My Muse wakes up occasionally, but not often. Sometimes she sends things into my head for no reason. Here's a poem I wrote the other day, and I have no idea why I wrote it or what inspired it:
The graveyard vandal jumped the fence
to play among the monuments.
Midst markers small and angels tall,
he was a human wrecking ball.
He tore up sod and wrote on stone.
No artifact was left alone.
A passing policeman heard the noise,
and plucked the vandal from his joys.
For him there'll be no quick escape.
He's charged with statuary rape.
Excuse me, but I have to go now. I'm working on a political poem, but I'm having trouble keeping it clean.
Contact Pinehurst writer Jim Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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