My apologies for my embarrassingly long hiatus! I spent last week chaperoning 20 delightful students in Paris and London only to return to the States with the flu! A full week later, I’m down to a persistent cold and finally finding the energy to be a real person again (clearly this means blogging, not doing anything responsible like laundry).
What could possibly pull me out of my flu-induced lethargy? Why Poem in Your Pocket Day, of course! Celebrating its 9th anniversary in NYC, Poem in Your Pocket Day is a day to remember how delightful poetry is and to celebrate language. Ideally, you carry a poem in your pocket all day, sharing your poetry with anyone you meet. Then, they’ll share their poem with you! Poetry alive on the streets of New York!
Of course, Poem in Your Pocket Day has never actually happened this way for me. I’ve never had an encounter with a stranger that has led to spontaneous poetry reading. But, in my five years as a high school English teacher, I HAVE had several lovely encounters with students on Poem in Your Pocket Day. It’s always delightful to learn of the quiet boy who secretly loves Walt Whitman (which happened today), or the girl who already carries around a Langston Hughes poem in her wallet.
Here’s the poem I carried today. It’s a favorite of mine, every since my husband sent it to me when we were dating (long distance–how romantic!).
by Jeffrey McDaniel
In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.
When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.
Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.
When she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.
I’m going to keep it in my wallet from now on, hoping that someday, somewhere, someone will ask me “Is that a poem in your pocket?” And I’ll be able to say “Why yes, yes it is.”