Tax Day

Sometimes it's just good to share rough drafts and exercises. I've been thinking about how the url of this blog says "cameronbarnettpoet" and I haven't exactly shared a poem on it yet. Not a full one at least. So I figured I'd share a couple.

On Fridays I do a poetry club with middle schoolers and we write poems together in about 30 minutes and then share whatever we come up with. The poems range from silly to sincere, often a mix of both. Last Friday the kids asked me "How come you never give us a free day?" Apparently I'm a brutal teacher, so I put my lesson on pause and we started talking about anything that came to mind. Four subjects took over our conversation: free days, taxes, marriage, and waffles. After giving them a "free day" and letting them talk, I gave them two assignments: the first wast to write a poem using those four conversation topics, and the second was to bring in an image to share that we would write poems after. They only groaned slightly when they realized how I had tricked them.

Today only half of the students were in, due to spring break coming up next week, so the few of us shared what we had. I always encourage the students to share, even though they like to preface everything with "Mine isn't really good, but..." I still push them to share to develop some confidence. I also try to write along with them or do the prompt I give them (at least 70% of the time). What I come up with is also something I would preface before reading among peers of mine. It's quick and very stream-of-conscious. But because I make them put themselves out there by sharing, I feel I should do the same. Also, after reading my first poem, the 6th grader in the group lauded my work, so I mean...that was nice to hear too. So what the heck, here's the poem:

"Tax Day"

The pop of Eggo waffles from my toaster

awakens me to the striking truth of April 15th:

Tax Day, in America. Half groggy, I grab the Aunt

Jemima syrup and slather the baked batter matrix

we call waffles in sticky sweet sauce we call syrup.

This is a metaphor for how my life is going. I am married

to the daily grind of taxes—no, not just federal

but personal, interpersonal, professional, big and

small. I take the bus and it's taxing. I ride a bike

and I am withdrawn. I walk up a hill to work and I am

depleted. I wrote no vows for this lifelong pursuit,

and yet here I am: eating waffles on weekends,

the only semblance of free days I can muster before

surrendering them too to Uncle Sam. I guess it's a small

price to pay for "America". I guess it's a small price

to suffer Sundays in anxious wait of Mondays.

But I've talked too long now, and the toaster

has sprung another slice. Here, take it. This waffle

is made for you.

When we got to the photo portion of the day, we talked a little about the piece we brought in. I shared The Ancient of Days by William Blake. Then we swapped photos clockwise and wrote about what we got. The photo in this blog was the one my student brought in (I don't know any info about it but it's fascinating) so I wrote this about it:

"Between Earth & Earth"

If Saudi Arabia is a cloud,

then the moon is the boulder I've

leapt from into a lake of sleep

If space is a forest bleeding

toward infinity, then the skyline

is a blue marble, swirled and spherical

If a mountain is a horizon—

If a girl floats on her back—

If water and sky clap themselves together—

Eternity is the far-flung constellation

I wink at as it winks at me.

With eyes closed, I am every place at once.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Cameron BarnettComment