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Archive for May 7th, 2008

Insights Into the Soul

Posted by Nancy on May 7, 2008

Even with all the other things  on my mind today, I just can’t pass on the topic of poetry and how it opens a window into the soul.

See, I happened to stumble upon two poems written by Barack Obama that were published in 1981 in the journal Feast.  I tried Googling to find out just what Feast is (or was) and do some serious verification, but was inundated with many wonderful food ideas instead, along with some rock band references. 

So at great personal sacrifice, and only because I know how literate most of my readers are, I decided to run with it anyway.

The first poem appears to be written about the grandfather who raised him, and the second, well, er, um….. see for yourself. 


Sitting in his seat, a seat broad and broken

In, sprinkled with ashes,

Pop switches channels, takes another

Shot of Seagrams, neat, and asks

What to do with me, a green young man

Who fails to consider the

Flim and flam of the world, since

Things have been easy for me;

I stare hard at his face, a stare

That deflects off his brow;

I’m sure he’s unaware of his

Dark, watery eyes, that

Glance in different directions,

And his slow, unwelcome twitches,

Fail to pass.

I listen, nod,

Listen, open, till I cling to his pale,

Beige T-shirt, yelling,

Yelling in his ears, that hang

With heavy lobes, but he’s still telling

His joke, so I ask why

He’s so unhappy, to which he replies…

But I don’t care anymore, cause

He took too damn long, and from

Under my seat, I pull out the

Mirror I’ve been saving; I’m laughing,

Laughing loud, the blood rushing from his face

To mine, as he grows small,

A spot in my brain, something

That may be squeezed out, like a

Watermelon seed between

Two fingers.

Pop takes another shot, neat,

Points out the same amber

Stain on his shorts that I’ve got on mine, and

Makes me smell his smell, coming

From me; he switches channels, recites an old poem

He wrote before his mother died,

Stands, shouts, and asks

For a hug, as I shink [sic], my

Arms barely reaching around

His thick, oily neck, and his broad back; ‘cause

I see my face, framed within

Pop’s black-framed glasses

And know he’s laughing too.


First, for my Mormon readers, to drink whiskey “neat” means to drink it straight.

It took me about three reads on this, which shows how time is taking its toll on my brain.  Anyway, what I’m getting here is that “Pops” is asking what to do about him, a young man who isn’t taking life seriously because things have always been easy for him.  (Doesn’t quite jibe with his oppressed persona, but I guess we can give him a pass on that.)  Then we have BO yelling in his ear before not caring because the old man took “too damn long” to respond, followed by figuratively draining Pops’ life blood and comparing him to a “watermelon seed” that can be squeezed out with two fingers. 

Typical young adult angst going on here, or something else?

I’m not even going to try for the meaning in the stained shorts and body smell – unless the “twitches” and failure “to pass” finally rectified themselves with a little gaseous emission.  Maybe someone else can edify us further. 

Finally, I really want to assume that “shink” was originally a typo and should be shrink.  If not, here  are some possibilities on what shink could mean, although these definitions may not have been around 25 years ago.  Let’s hope so.


Under water grottos, caverns

Filled with apes

That eat figs.

Stepping on the figs

That the apes

Eat, they crunch.

The apes howl, bare

Their fangs, dance,

Tumble in the

Rushing water,

Musty, wet pelts

Glistening in the blue.


I am speechless.

If this is what was published, anyone want to contemplate on the merits of his works in their entirety?

At least he’s only running for President and not poet laureate.


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