Friday, March 17, 2017

This Poem is Green

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit that sweet-singing Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge for Roundup.

I am away from my desk today, attending the Georgia Children's Book Festival, but I did want to pop in for St. Patrick's Day to share a green poem. :)

Also, if you haven't signed up for our 2017 Progressive Poem, there are just two slots left! Sign up here.

About St. Patrick's Day: I have never felt a particular affinity for the holiday, even though during the years we lived near New Orleans, participating in the St. Patrick's Day parade was a pretty big deal. All the guys would dress up in green-trimmed tuxedos and march through the streets kissing girls. We watched safely from a balcony -- yes, there was alcoholic beverages involved, and this is the Big Easy we're talking about... not the best place for a tween girl!

Anyhow, fast forward to last year, when I visited Bismarck, North Dakota for some sessions on One Little Word, but mostly to see my father. Not only did I find out we actually DO have Irish blood (something about a fiery red-headed great-grandmother?!), but someone also snapped what would turn out to be the last photo of me and my father together.

Isn't he adorable in his leprechaun hat? So now St. Patrick's Day fills me and empties me. I'm glad to be busy today.

And here is a poem, freshly written, green spots and all:

This Poem is Green

Green like a hillside
gowned in clover,
green like sea-washed glass.
It's pushing up through hardscrabble soil,
tender leaves unfurling
on a frosty March morning.
Each day it begins,
or begins again –
there is always something new to learn.
Sometimes it gets wobbly,
like now: it's queasy heart
squeezed by the tides
of opinion.
Sometimes it sees other poems
that are far better-dressed,
poems with wings,
and this poem grows even green-er.
What else is there to do then,
than retreat to the forest?
This poem knows to listen
to giants. It carried their wild songs
like DNA in each syllable,
it holds lost fathers and daughters
in its branches,
and when it breathes,
the sky tastes like salt.
See? This poem is so green
it's already turning blue.

- Irene Latham


  1. So much to love in your words today. You had me with those opening words:
    "Green like a hillside
    gowned in clover,"
    and then these tender words -
    "it holds lost fathers and daughters
    in its branches,"
    I wish I could deliver this virtual hug in person. The pic of you and your dad is one to be treasured always. Wishing you green amidst the blue of this day.

  2. Irene, what a beautiful post. You missing your hits close to home. And, the poem is lovely. I've been hunting for a new way of writing a poem. I like the title and the idea of this. I claim it as a mentor text. Have a wonderful week full of memories of your Dad that make you smile.

  3. Aww, Irene. Hugs to you. xo (Using this as a mentor text is a great idea.)

  4. Beautiful poem, Irene. So poignant. Love the pic of you and your handsome Dad -- yes a great leprechaun hat!

  5. Oh, my, what a beautiful poem. And that adorable picture of you and your father! Hugs to you, Irene.

    I especially connected with
    "Sometimes it gets wobbly,
    like now: it's queasy heart
    squeezed by the tides
    of opinion."
    as my new book has not garnered many reviews (OK, I'll say it--just one print one and one online one), so I'm feeling a bit wobbly on my book's behalf. But then I love
    "This poem knows to listen
    to giants. It carried their wild songs"
    and know that we can only let each book sing its own wild song, regardless of how it is (or isn't) heard by the world.


  6. Oh my, I think I see a piece of your heart in this poem. Certainly in the picture. Your talent with words touches me. Your love of life does, too. Thanks for sharing.

  7. There are lines here that stop me to re-read again, Irene, like that "wobbly" line that Laura speaks of, and "This poem knows to listen/to giants." Hugs to you missing your father, and the picture is a loving remembrance, too.

  8. So beautiful, Irene! I especially love:
    Each day it begins,
    or begins again –
    there is always something new to learn.
    AND the last lines...Wow!
    I know that last photo of you and your dad together is very precious to you. I often look at the last one with my mother. Thanks for this post. xo

  9. What a beautiful poem--green spots and all. It makes me long for spring and honor the strength it takes to keep growing and pushing up through the hardscrabble soil.

  10. What a wonderful picture of you and your dad. A lot of people associate being Irish with hard drinking, but I've always associated them with storytelling and a love of literature and poetry. I prefer to think it's part of the best of me, rather than the worst.

  11. Gorgeous, my friend - as is that priceless photo.
    "...when it breathes/the sky tastes like salt." - and salt preserves precious food to sustain life, doesn't it? XO

  12. Your blog is linked to day to mine for the “Found Poem” Scavenger Hunt!
    Happy World Poetry Day!

  13. Oh Irene, this is a bitter-sweet, heartfelt poem, the ending is lovely. I lost my dear dad this last year too, sending some hugs to you. "it holds lost fathers and daughters in its branches," -beautiful, thanks.


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