A to Z Challenge: P for Poem (hello National Poetry Month)

I have a friend, J. Carroll Barnhill (J for Jesse and he’s always wondered how he ended up with two girl names…). A few years after I met him he had a bad fall from a very frisky race horse and shattered his hip.  He came to stay at my house for his rather lengthy recovery and it was suggested to him that since he couldn’t do much but lie in bed, he should read or maybe write poetry.  Many years later he is still writing poetry and reading his favorites at gatherings of all kinds.  He doesn’t type much, which is why I’ve gotten to type most of his creations and they are all stored on my computer. As “keeper of the anthologies” I wrote this poem for him and it was included in the preface of his first book.


Another Silly Poem


“Another silly poem,” he said, “for you to type today.”

“You probably don’t have time for this, but I thought I’d ask anyway.”

The words are scrawled on whatever’s at hand, envelope, napkin or pad.

Sometimes hard to read, grammatically strange, but inspired by a vision he’d had.


His words, his thoughts, his moments of life, captured with pen and ink

Are presented to me with a hopeful smile and then “What do you think?”

Obviously bursting with pride at this “newborn thing” he’s made,

Yet giving his feelings a place to hide in case I don’t give a good grade.


All his years of living, places and times, simply written down

Passed on to those who identify, who marvel, who laugh or frown

Or cry or argue or shake their heads – amazement on their face.

How can so many words jump out from such an unlikely place?


For he’s been a man of action, a workman with his hands.

Setting poles, stringing wires, driving machines, caring for horses and land,

Loving and losing, rejecting and choosing – no busier person around.

Who would think he’d have dared to try this new thing, this talent freshly found.


It’s his courage that takes the time to share and cares to pass things on

It’s his joy that sees the fun and rhyme, and hope life’s built upon.

Word upon word, one page at a time, a life I’ve never known…

So with respect I sit to type “another silly poem”.


Shirley Dietz © 2006

I Like This Poem

I like many poems, but this poem about poetry explains to me why many people just don’t get it.

Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

— Billy Collins, from The Apple That Astonished Paris