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
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
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.