By Kathleen D. Tresemer
I’m not a poet. I know lots of folks in their Second Half who write poetry—some for their kids/grandkids/great-grandkids, some for publication, and some just to feed that creative spot in their soul.
Second-Half pal Tom writes a Christmas poem every year, to share with friends and family. They are sweet and lovely, and full of charm, the kind of poem that makes the listeners go, “Awww!”
Here’s an excerpt from his 2010 poem, “Ole Santa”:
There’s a man in every department store, the children know his name,
Though he’s not there most of all the year, they love him just the same.
Twinkly eyes, a big white beard and laughter that fills the air,
A bright red suit, a large green bag and a smile that brings you cheer…
You get the drift: charming, upbeat and full of the Christmas spirit. I wait every year to hear Tom recite his poems for us, poems that offer a warm, old-fashioned look at the holiday season. They are rich with the sights and smells of my childhood Christmases, and I love them.
I was celebrating with the Rockford Writers’ Guild recently. The December meeting is often more a food fest, but we do have holiday readings and prizes. This was the poem that won for “best capturing the spirit of the season”:
“Season of Giving,” by Rebecca Kojetin
‘Tis the season
Season for celebrating
Season for giving
Giving of time
Giving from the heart
Thanks from those you know
Thanks from those who have not
Not the food
Not the money
Money for a celebration
Money for necessities
Necessities to feel cared for
Necessities to feel warm
Warm from those fortunate to share
Warm from hope
Hope for future generations
Hope that life will be better next year
Year to get an education
Year to find a job
Job to support the family
Job to pay back for what was given
Given in time of need
Given because someone cared
Cared for someone else
Cared to make another’s holiday special
Special with a Christmas meal
Special with presents
Presents for the young
Presents for the old
Old enough to question Santa
Old enough for understanding
Understanding the generosity of others
Understanding the Karma
Karma returns the good
Rewards those that help others
Rewards those who are generous with what they have
Have the job and the family
Have the home and the material possessions
Possessions that are not necessary
Possessions that reflect wants
Wants of things that sparkle and glitter
Wants of lessons and experience—
Experience not the life of poverty
Experience the warmth of giving
Giving of money, food and gifts
Poverty extinguished during this holiday.
Now that’s poetry—moving, timely and written in a special poetic form called The Blitz, invented by poet/teacher Robert Keim in 2008. The Blitz form is described here by Yahoo’s associatedcontent.com writer, Jack Huber:
“…The format is unique—24 couplets, each line beginning with the last word of the previous couplet, ending with two single-word lines, the last word of lines 48 and 47, respectively. … There is no meter or rhyme used in a blitz. Though fast-paced, the concept that the poet wants to convey will be revealed slowly throughout the piece, as less meaningful phrases give way to those more relevant when taken in total. … The ending tends to be a poignant comment on the concept delivered. …”
I thought it was amazing.
My poetry, on the other hand, is not fit for regular folks. Any poetic effort on my part comes from a darkly sarcastic place, usually written for a handmade greeting card or even just for a laugh—this dysfunctional attitude I attribute to being the middle child, something I clearly never outgrew. Take the following Christmas poem I wrote for my granddaughter Kait, penned to make her laugh and, it is hoped, to think:
Toys for Christmas
Santa came to see me
And left a lump of coal;
I never liked him anyway,
That silly red-faced troll.
I’m gonna get some presents
If I have to rob my brother;
I’ll snatch his ball, his airplane—
Some great gift or another.
Momma says I’m naughty
When I treat the kids unkind,
When I grab the last big orange
And leave them just the rind.
But I think I’m the smarter one,
The one who’s really bright;
No one likes me anyway
So I steal their toys—good night!
I wonder, “Who writes stuff like that?!” I’m pretty sure 9-year-old Kait will get it, though. After all, who doesn’t know a bad little kid like that, or at least remember one from childhood?
I find the poetic inspirations of others much more delightful. Some of the best and most heart-warming treasures come to me in the form of e-mails and texts. My recent favorite digital prose was a text sent by 20-something son: “WHOOHOOOO! SHE SAID YES!”
Now, that’s pretty poetic.
As a kindness to my readers, I tried to rein in my natural tendency to be snide. Here goes—my gift to you for the coming new year:
Your Second Half starts when you see fit:
Where is your life-goal set?
Do you see yourself fit to one-hundred and ten
Or not really pondered it yet?
Eat healthy food, breathe purest air,
Dance and eat chocolate aplenty!
That is the way I see my last day
When it comes at one-hundred and twenty.
In her second half of life, Kathleen D. Tresemer is both a journalist and an award-winning fiction writer. She lives with her husband on a small ranch in rural Shirland, Ill. Kathleen can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
From the Dec. 29-Jan. 4, 2011 issue