Thursday, June 08, 2006

Voices on PoetryThursday

This is the first week that I join with a few others who publish or write something relating to poetry every Thursday (Poetry Thursday). And just like a first-time student, I didn't get the assignment exactly right...The theme this week was to walk around for a day and listen to people talking -- and build a theme around the snippets of conversation that you hear.

I started writing a poem about neighborhood voices when I was a kid. The poem had a mind of its own and took off in a different direction. It still speaks of voices, but from a different viewpoint: hearing the voices of those around you before they become faint voices of the past.

Neighborhood Voices

I grew up next to a cemetery --
played baseball in an empty field
with headstones a distant home run to right;
rode sleds down a snow-covered hill
yet to be occupied by the dead

We were a neighborhood full of kids --
we feared the voices that might come
from the shadows of stones in moonlight,
but were daring enough to shelter ourselves
in sleeping bags near pitcher’s mound

We could read history in those acres --
a timeline running uphill in reverse order
spanning nearly ten generations of lives;
the voices began their story with hard facts
marking a calendar with birth and death

Some of the older pages had more to say --
verse scrolled along the bottom or
a carved picture framing the top,
epitaphs to give color to their lives
before the drab cold stone crumbled and forgot

My father’s grave stands in full view
of the house where my mother no longer lives,
but his voice has little to do with that place,
and so much more to do with who I am
even as the distance of place and time grows deeper.

I search the voices of those who surround me
listening to the essence and beauty of their story;
I do not want to wait until dates and numbers
are etched upon a stone planted in distant hills,
waiting for the feet of a wary child chasing a ball.


Anonymous said...

Hey Dave,
This is my favorite poem you have posted to date. I love the mood of it. To me it is celebratory and respectful at the same time.
My favorite lines are
"but his voice has little to do with that place,
and so much more to do with who I am"
What a great warm and quiet feeling that this piece imparts to the reader.

Colorsonmymind said...

Very moving. I too like that line.....

Dana said...

You had me from the first line and you kept me all the way through. If posting late for Poetry Thursday results in this level of writing, I say carry on with the late posts!

(Actually, even though we are Poetry Thursday, you can post any day you like as part of PT. We're generous like that.) I'm so thrilled you've decided to participate in the project.