Battered Blue Wheelbarrow

What It Carries, Still

Your father, whose voice scared me,

whose head loomed a full 14 inches over my mine,

bought us our only housewarming gift;

a bright blue, six cubic foot wheelbarrow.

We laughed at its size, laughed as you gave me

a bumpy ride over the first lawn

we giddily called our own.

 

He seemed to believe our future

would be one of Paul Bunyan-sized loads.

It was.

 

In it we hauled firewood, dirt, rocks,

crinkled leaves topped with squealing toddlers.

It held a big block Dodge engine.

It toted rolls of fencing, chicken feed, cow manure.

It carried trays of tender seedlings

out to the garden, waiting

as I blessed each one into soft earthen beds.

 

Today you mend the rusted body

of our battered blue wheelbarrow.

I wish your father lived to see

its wooden handles smoothed from use

and what it carries, still

on that one sure wheel.

Laura Grace Weldon

Originally published in The Moon Magazine. Find more poems in my collection, Tending.

Foretold

Foretold During A Sleepover With 12-Year-Old Girls

 

Ghost stories and gossip, forgotten

when she showed us the Ouija board

filched from her older sister’s room.

Outside, dry leaves scraped fingertips

across pavement as wind swirled them

in patterns that may, too, have been messages,

but we clustered over the board’s dark formal script,

giggling, nervous, accusing each other

of willfully steering the plastic indicator,

denying we steered it ourselves, calling out

letters forming words forming prophecies.

 

I asked my future husband’s name

and was given the letter M

followed by A, then R, finally C.

No one by the name Marc in our classes,

so I wasn’t teased like girls who got

Tim or Michael or Kyle.

 

When I met you two years later

your name ended in a K.

Teasing, I nicknamed you Marcus,

sometimes call you that still.

After all these years,

I see what I couldn’t then.

Mark, my love, your name

was already spelled

by every letter on that board.

Laura Grace Weldon

Originally published in Verse-Virtual.  Find more poems in my collection, Tending.

 

Space Any Can Soften Into

out of body

Out of Body

 

Before I knew how to make my eyes march

in rows following shapes called words,

before I could cross the street

without a taller hand to hold,

I worked to stay in the small body

my being was given.

 

If not for careful attention I drifted.

Became a squirrel on the branch

muscles ready to leap,

nose a nervous twitter, ever wary

though I only wanted

to see furry playfulness.

Became J.P. down the street

licking lips already chapped and bleeding

jeering smaller children loudly

to silence a chest ribbed with sorrow.

This made it harder to hate

the bully he seemed.

 

At night I kept blankets pulled tight

but still, the room grew so large

my bed became a tiny speck

and me, a traveler.

From a vantage point I didn’t seek

I saw dark houses hunker on endless streets,

cars pull like magnets along lines of light.

Within them people carrying their lives

with so much effort when all around them

was this space any could soften into.

 

I pulled back and back and back,

searching for and sharpening

my own edges.

Even though I stay in this body

sometimes I drift

sliding through as we all can

from me into you.

Laura Grace Weldon

Find more poems in my collection, Tending.

We Are Not Powerless

Clarion Reminder

 

The powerful provoke the powerless

to push against one another.

Their power grows by keeping us

in all kinds of prisons.

 

Yet we are not powerless.

 

Remember the black bear

roaming Clarion County, Pennsylvania,

its head trapped a month or more

in a metal-ringed pail.

 

Remember those who chased it for hours,

grabbed it in a perilous embrace,

carefully sawed loose those tight bonds.

Imagine what they felt as the bear

ran free into the woods.

 

Imagine too, the bear.

 

Laura Grace Weldon

Originally published in Writers Resist.  Find more poems in my collection, Tending.

What the Onion Teaches

What the Onion Teaches

 

Anything, seen wholly,

teaches everything.

Take a raw onion, harsh to its core.

Unpeel, unring, and hold to the light.

It is complete as the soil, sun, and rain

of its making.

 

Sauté the rings in oil

till the onion relaxes into itself,

elevating everything added next.

 

This looking, this warmth, and trust

is how the prisoner finds Shakespeare,

the lonely child discovers trees,

the battered woman pulls away layers

ready to be seen.

Laura Grace Weldon

 

Originally published in Shot Glass Journal.  Find more poems in my collection, Tending.

Stop, Reboot

Bad Start

to the day, what with finding

feathers, then bodies

of two hens killed by hawks.

And power out, so I can’t

work despite glaring deadlines.

 

Picking tomatoes and chard

for breakfast, I step on a bee

whose final act is to heave

her brave sword in my sole.

Startled, I skid on dew-wet grass,

fall sharply, my face whirling

a breath’s distance from roses

prickled with scarifying thorns,

 

and laugh.

 

I’d been soggy

cereal in the bowl,

mail dropped in a ditch,

a garden wizened by blight,

 

but now,

foot in lap, I pinch

out the stinger,

stabbed by gratitude

for an insect’s

venomous antidote.

Now all I see is a shining

curtain of light pulled open

to the third act of a comedy

performed as it

is lived.

Laura Grace Weldon

Originally published in Gyroscope Review  Find more poems in my collection, Tending.

Little Suns Everywhere

Let’s Turn Off the Porch Light

 

Dappled brown moths

wooly as Grammy’s needlepoint

whirl around the bulb,

winged pilgrims desperate

for union with the Holy.

 

Little suns everywhere

lure us to the surface of things

where we burn for lack of shadows,

mistaking the blaze of want

for a larger love.

Laura Grace Weldon

Originally published in Shot Glass Journal.  Find more poems in my collection, Tending.

36 Poetry-Infused Movies

36 poetry-infused films

You don’t have to stretch your movie-watching habits far to include movies infused with poetry. Here’s a short, by no means comprehensive list.

 

Biopics (often loosely) based on poets’ lives

Neruda  dramatizes the search for the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet during the 1940’s, when he became a fugitive in his own country due to his Communist leanings.

A Quiet Passion explores Emily Dickinson’s life from her school days to her later years.

Kill Your Darlings looks at a 1944 murder that draws together beat generation poets Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.

Howl looks at the 1957 obscenity trial against Allen Ginsberg.

Set Fire to the Stars portrays a week in 1950, when aspiring poet John Brinnin takes his idol, Dylan Thomas, on a retreat in hopes of readying the legendary poet for a series of poetry readings in the U.S.

Reaching for the Moon  Elizabeth Bishop took a trip to Rio in 1951, intending to stay only long enough to battle her drinking problem, but met and fell in love with famed architect Lota de Macedo Soares, staying 20 years.

Total Eclipse is a dramatized account of Arthur Rimbaud’s affair with Paul Verlaine.

Sylvia tells of the relationship between poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.

The Basketball Diaries is a harrowing story of athleticism, addiction, and redemption based on poet Jim Carroll’s autobiography.

Barfly is based on Charles Bukowski tumultuous life.

Before Night Falls is adapted from the memoir of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, who was jailed for ‘ideological deviation’ and forced to denounce his own work.

Piñero tells the story of Puerto Rican poet-playwright Miguel Piñero, whose urban poetry is recognized as a forerunner to rap and hip-hop.

An Angel at my Table tells the story of Nene Janet Paterson Clutha, a New Zealand woman who published under the name Janet Frame.  After years of psychiatric institutionalization, Frame was scheduled for a lobotomy that was cancelled when, just days before the procedure, her début publication of short stories was unexpectedly awarded a national literary prize.

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle brings the Algonquin Round Table to life in this portrayal of Dorothy Parker.

Tom & Viv depicts  T. S. Eliot‘s brief marriage to muse Vivienne Haigh-Wood.

Endless Poetry portrays Alejandro Jodorowsky’s young adulthood of the 1940s and 50s, in the electric capital city of Santiago. There, he decides to become a poet and is introduced into the bohemian and artistic circle of the time.

 

 

Movies inspired by poems

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is the Coen brothers’ version of Homer’s “Odyssey.”

Mulans story comes from the ancient Chinese poem “The Ballad of Mulan.”

The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe  has been made into several movies, the most recent starring John Cusack.

Jabberwocky is a poem found in Lewis Carroll’s novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. The nonsense poem added words such as “chortle” and “galumphing” to the English language.  This nonsense movie is directed by Monty Python alumnus Terry Gilliam.

Much Ado About Nothing, OthelloHamlet, well, there are dozens of movies versions of Shakespeare’s poetic plays. Dozens more are based on his work, including The Lion KingShe’s the Man, and Akira Kurosawa’s Ran

Beowulf comes from the oldest surviving epic poem of Old English.

Bright Star is inspired by a poem of the same name by John Keats, about his love for Fanny Brawne.

Braveheart is based on the the epic written by makar Blind Harry, “The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace.”

Troy is based on Homer’s epic Iliad.

Horton Hears a Who! or any of the Dr. Seuss movies, are all based on the imaginatively rhyming books by Theodor Seuss Geisel.

 

 

Movies about poetry

Paterson takes place during one week of a poetry-writing bus driver’s life, and includes a meeting with a stranger who loves poetry.

Poetry, detailing an elderly woman’s first poem, gets a rare 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Elling is a deadpan comedic Norwegian film about two men, Elling and Kjell,  who are released from a state institution. Elling discovers he is a poet and bring his work to the public in an unusual way.

Henry Fool is about an ex-convict who encourages a friend to become a poet.

Poetic Justice includes several poems by Maya Angelou.

Big Bad Love highlights the struggles of a poet and writer dealing with his own war memories and alcoholism. Based on the short stories of Mississippi writer Larry Brown, Brown’s own poems and those of William Carlos Williams, are in the film.

Slam is about a young man’s dedication to spoken word poetry after his release from prison.

Dead Poets SocietyRobin Williams plays an English teacher in an East Coast boys’ prep school who inspires his students to love poetry, among other life lessons. The film, which popularized the tradition of carpe diem poems, features verse by Frost, Tennyson, and Shakespeare.

Shakespeare in LoveThe endeavors of a young William Shakespeare, with allusions to Shakespeare’s later work.

The Kindergarten Teacher is the story of an Israeli kindergarten teacher who is convinced that one of her students is a poetry prodigy, and becomes obsessed with what she perceives as his ability.

 

Mathematical Improbabilities

 

Welcome

 

Eyes, fingertips, tongues

form one from two.

Yield three.

 

You.

 

Snowflake fingerprints,

tiny palms creased with foreknowledge,

DNA whirling proteins

into the plot of a new story.

 

Despite vast mathematical improbabilities

here you are.

Your mother’s hundred thousand eggs

your father’s five trillion sperm,

a one-in-five-hundred-million-million-million

chance of your existence.

 

Our gladness is incalculable.

 

Laura Grace Weldon

 

Find more poetry in my collection, Tending. 

Summer Day at Huntington Beach

poem, Lake Erie shore

Summer Day at Huntington Beach

 

I tick with alarm clock worry.

My sister is afraid of nothing.

Not the dark or death or

Jay Preslan down the street

who pushes kids in front of cars.

 

Look at her run into the water

while I stand squinting.

She doesn’t pinch her nose

to dive under. Doesn’t pause

before splashing back

strange splashing kids. Doesn’t heed

the lifeguard’s megaphoned warning

to stay away from the ropes.

 

Lake Erie grabs at the shore,

slurps it greedily in foaming waves.

I picture monstrous goggly-eyed fish

lurking under the pier,

ships skudded in the depths,

lost sailors forever unburied.

I inhale the curved scent

of suntan lotion, clench my toes

in the sand, stand still. Far out,

bobbing in foil-bright waves,

my sister is another being entirely,

straining at the boundary ropes

trying to see all the way to Canada.

 

Originally published by Silver Birch Press.  Find more poems in my collection, Tending.