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*****

We put stars in poems
like we name subdivisions
after lakes that aren’t there
like we name football teams
after Indian tribes
and put animal ornaments
on sprinkler wet lawns
while polar bears drown
and sea otters become extinct

We put stars in poems
like we sprinkle salt on summer corn
but in the winter eat it out cans
We punch holes in black paper
hold it up to the light
We turn thermostats on
to make imaginary fire

We put stars in poems
like we put tomahawks in museums
and put quarters in the juke box
and pinball machines
like we put fireflies in jars
and peanut butter with jelly

Because we remember
when we were children
and laid in the grass
watching clouds

Because we remember
when we were teenagers
and had boyfriends who told us
that sex felt like heroin
without the addiction

Because we remember
when we were flower children
and watched them spill like a river
and the big dipper fell
off the milky way counter
after we ate peyote
and watched Barberella
at the drive-inn movie

Because poems with stars
aren’t like those with cicadas
They don’t cause migraines
or push an agenda
They open our eyes
like brushed on mascara
They flutter and blink
They fall

We put stars in poems
because we lost one of our parents
who followed two of our brothers
and we like to pretend
that the night sky is a city
and if we give good directions
they might come home
for Thanksgiving this year

We put stars in poems
like Hans Christian Anderson
put a nightingale song
in a story about an emperor
who came from China
Because e e cummings
makes poem constellations
that look like petals
falling from a rose

We put stars in poems
because it’s better than saying
your eyes are like pools
and violets are blue
because the S sounds good with the T
and it rhymes with guitar and cinnabar
We like the way the R ripples out

We put stars in poems
because they glow in the dark
but aren’t made of plastic
because it’s better
than putting poems in stars
because it makes our grandchildren
giggle to see them
because we don’t know how to live
without them

We put stars in poems
because they make our poems better
because we believe they’re still there
even when we are not

~ Colleen Redman 10/08

Comments

That's a very good one, Colleen! I love this:


"Because e e cummings
makes poem constellations
that look like petals
falling from a rose"

It's so true.

you certainly have a way with words, the pictures you paint will stay with me all day

Wonderful poem! Is this a new one or from your book? I still need to buy a copy.
Hugs,
Nancy

This poem is brand new. A couple of weeks ago I took Joe's yoga mat out at night and laid on it in the grass to watch the stars. The first line just came and then the poem snowballed from there. I read it at the Spoken Word on Saturday. http://www.looseleafnotes.com/notes/2008/10/melissa_the_barista_and_mars_t.html

My book of poetry came out in 2004. http://silverandgold.swva.net/mlm_press.htm

Lovely. Great words and sentiment. I especially liked:
We put stars in poems
because we lost one of our parents
who followed two of our brothers
and we like to pretend
that the night sky is a city
and if we give good directions
they might come home
for Thanksgiving this year

Seems timely for me, having lost several folks I loved this year.

Your work always makes me want to go write poetry. Alas, I seldom do!

"Snowballed from there"...what a gift! This is a wonderful weave...

lots to think about here......

Truly enjoyed your poem today...thank you.

I, too, was struck by that phrase: and if we give good directions they might come home for Thanksgiving this year.

A lovely visual for those of us who have lost dear family members. Thanks, Colleen, for expressing it so well.

Hey did you know Michele used a ? of yours for her question and answer game?

That line was about them coming home for Thanksgiving if I give good directions was a key part of the poem. It took writing the previous stanzas before I could get to it and only till I took the poem to my writer's workshop did I realize the whole poem is about loss, loss of innocence, culture, loved ones, and even virginity! I knew when I was writing it what worked and what didn't for expressing what I was feeling while looking at the night sky, but didn't discover until later how the journey all wove together as a theme and that's what I mean when I say writing poetry is like taking my psychic blood pressure.

A great poem and a great theme. You are so right of course and it speaks to all of us.

It certainly does speak to all of us. I used to call myself STAR....remember. xo
If we give good directions maybe they will come home for THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!! What a line.

That is very good but I have to say a boyfriend never told me that! I'd have been like "what?" Heroin was never a part of my growing up experiences. I'm not sure I knew what it was then....I never even knew anyone to use it. I guess the rural area was more Coke and Pot!

Being so close to Boston, there was an influx of heroin in the 70's to the south shore where I lived then. I never came close to being interested in it but knew others who did. The comment was more about trying to describe sex to one had never experienced it as something out of this world (a high) and us trying to imagine it. And of course boys would say almost anything to get girls interested in it.

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