(after Dorothy Parker)
I offer you my effort to create
a simple sonnet worthy of a word
of criticism, question, or debate
with no assumption flattery’s preferred.
For if you judge it awkwardly enjambed,
pedestrian, unbearably clichéd
unwitty or ho-hummingly iambed,
you’ll never witness my composure fade.
And though you tell me I have not employed
the most appealing diction in my quest,
then I will not be in the least annoyed —
I’ll gladly pay the penalty assessed.
But critic, if you say my stanzas fail
to scan, I’ll come out fighting tooth and nail!
Mary Boren, 2001
Public Domain Photo
I’m thankful for the freedom
and the wherewithal to do
some things that bring me pleasure,
such as being here with you.
The simplest way that I can find
to make my story clear
is offering examples
of the memories held dear:
The thrill of catching polliwogs
and lightnin’ bugs, the sound
of crickets on the riverbank
beside our camping ground,
my daddy on vacation when
he’d let his whiskers grow,
the shadows on the faces
in the fire, the afterglow.
My mama’s laugh, her stylish bangs
(like Mamie Eisenhower’s),
the way I learned to cook and sew
by watching her, the flowers
I counted on the bedroom wall,
the smell of line-dried sheets,
the poodle skirts, the hula hoops,
and soda fountain treats.
The 1950s musicals
where folks burst out in song
and dance right in the middle
of a dialogue, the strong
and rugged, square-jawed heroes
of The West whose sense of right
was always unmistakable
because their hats were white.
As simple things contributed
to who I would become,
a gentle rhythm underscored
each breath. (ta-DUM ta-DUM)
If everyone conversed in
metered rhyme, like me, I’d think
I’d died and gone to heaven.
Here, I’m resting on the brink.
1998 Mary Boren
Own photo circa 1958
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