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Nat’l Poetry Month: 2 Poems on Kindness

April 30, 2018

ONE: On Kindness

I remember kindness
as the sun remembers my face
as the breeze whispers I love you
as the sea gives out wet puppy kisses

I remember kindness
as the gaze from the stranger on the same soul path
as the warmth from the smile of my cat
as the telltale green of spring

I remember kindness
as the moment of recognition
oh it’s you again
the field of lupine in the highway median
the carpet of gratefulness
the splash of orange sun underfoot captured by poppies
oh it’s you again
the piss of cougar trailside
the blackened branches now dead now alive
the smell of ash drowned by spring rains and hot chamise

I remember kindness
when I see you and you and you
the button famous to the hole
the sparkle famous to the eye
the wrinkle famous to the face

I remember kindness
when the path is clear
the light is green
the door unlocks
the creek runs clean

I remember kindness
when I am broken
and the world holds me in place
until
I feel fixed again
enough to move

If I look back over 2018 so far, a theme of kindness comes forward. After the events of 2017, both political and local, I found myself drawn to various expressions of kindness — which is a way to “Scatter joy and not pain around us” as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it.

Many people have remarked that during this time of tragedy, during the fires, the road closures, the evacuations, and the mudslides, we have been kind and generous toward each other. Compassionate even. And that as we recover, we may keep this quality in our community, in ourselves.

So when we were prompted to write about the theme of kindness at a recent Ventura College English department retreat, I was not surprised to find myself composing drafts of poetry. I have been writing so much more prose, primarily about wine and food and various wine regions of the world over at Wine Predator, that I haven’t been writing as much poetry, so it was fun to find these words just in time for National Poetry Month and for

our class publications which we will be reading from at EP Foster Library on Thursday, May 10. The weekly reading typically opens with a featured reader and on May 10 it’s Kevin Patrick Sullivan of San Luis Obispo followed by a break and the open mic. Join us! It’s free, but they usually pass the hat to take a collection for the poet and Kevin will probably have books to sell too.

Ventura College students might also be interested in submitting  their work to Ventura College’s online literary anthology VC Voices. Submit soon to be eligible for yearly prizes which will be announced in the next few weeks.

TWO: On a teacher who showed me kindness

My teachers made me fierce
They taught me I had to stand up for myself
or they would mow me down

My teachers made me howl
They never heard me because
they didn’t ask
and I was silent
in my own world
I gave nothing away

But there was Mr Buffon
with his scraggly graying beard or clean shaven
he played volleyball
coached the girls at Carpinteria High
lived on a boat in the harbor
something I had always dreamed of doing
He turned 30 the year I turned 16
but I still thought he was old
when he was young
young enough to remember.

He loaned me his car, his little blue fiat.
Top down, I could drive
right out of the teachers’ parking lot
at Buena High School
drive right past the tennis courts
the baseball diamond the track
and onto the freeway to the beach

I was 16, 17, 18 and I had a permanent hall pass
a permanent get out of jail free card
an escape vehicle, a set of keys
whenever I needed them

And yes I needed them:
how did he know
that would keep me sane
in the insanity of high school?

That the fresh air
the sunshine
the beach breezes
would make it possible to return
to the stifling classrooms
and gray hallways of school

that box that they tried to keep me in
he knew how to unlock
and he handed me the keys
no questions asked:
I was a writer
and I had business to attend to

 

So if you have poetry to share, remember:

EP Foster Library in the Topping Room 
poetry every Thursday at 7:30pm
open mic follows feature
651 E. Main Street – Ventura CA
across from Winchesters
host:  Phil Taggart
May  3            Claudia Reder
May  10          Kevin Patrick Sullivan
May  17      Mary Brown and Chris Howell
May  24     Not My President:  Anthology of Dissent
May  31         Fernando D Castro
June  7          Marcia Meier
June 14         Richard Jarette
June 21         Teddy Macker
June 28         Gudrun Bortman
July  5           Marcy Wingard 
July 12          Zayan Reza
July 19          Jennifer Kelley
July  26         Dorothy Barresi   
August 2       Nina Clements
August  9    Cynthia Alessandra Briano
August 16     open mic 
August 23     Rachel Kann 
September 20  RD Armstrong
September 27  Florence Weinberger
November 8      Steve Sher
November 15   Bill Mohr
December 13  Christopher Buckley
December 20  Ángel García

 

 

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