Sunday, August 01, 2004

Jonah doesn’t normally find poems boring. He’ll sit and listen to four or five Yeats poems at a time (he likes the Celtic Twilight stuff, the tricky sidhe ones). Mine, of course, when I ask him. He also really likes David Wagoner's Who Shall be the Sun?, a collection of poems from 1978 based on Northwest Native American Indian myths. His favorite is the title poem. It speaks to something good of Wagoner that a five-year old can appreciate hearing his poems over and over. Jonah also will listen to book tapes for hours, mostly of Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” and “Princess Mononoke.” He's recently moved on to the first Harry Potter, taking a break from which he said he though it was funny how Dudley controlled everybody in his family.

The first time I read Jonah a poem from the Wagoner book, he said “that isn’t the same kind of poem as the other one.”

“Which poem is that?”

“The one with the silver fish in it.” (by this he meant “Song of Wandering Aengus,” his Yeats of choice.)

“No, it isn’t. That was a . . .” and I fumbled some sort of description of lyric, something like “a kind of poem you write with sounds that sound nice, that feel nice to say. This one is more of a story. It’s called narrative, like someone telling a story.”

“Are you good at that kind in your poems, daddy?”

“Sometimes. Not always.”

“What kind are you good at? The kind where you decide what you want to eat?”

“Which kind is that?”

“Daddy, the kind where you want a burrito for breakfast!”

And I remembered the poem below, which I’d read to him a while ago, where I do decide that, among other things; and where my intention was less pure & concentrated than that noble pastime (deciding what to eat, that is), just fiddling and trying to write with a little fluid disjunction, a kind I’m not so practiced at. I can't say its brilliant, but it made him laugh, which is something. And I got to tell him a little about the !Kung!.

The Same Rain

I like tortillas because your beach smells flat.
My nose has a nose because rumpled I seem
I mean. Your nose is fat. Your sneeze
is like Sanka. Waves grow in the seams.
I like waves is like you in jeans
wet from the dryer. From me. The rain
sprints because my name has no name.
Unless you count its Hebrew name.
Does my name have a !Kung! name?
I like you is like you won’t tell me your name.
Rain like a river. Is nothing the same
as I am is like my thumb is a soul
of my hand is a soul of my heart. My heart
is a soul like a Jersey comber is white
with rain. The beat of the rain is
I’ll be awake soon. You too.
Let’s like breakfast again. Like


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