Monthly Archives: April 2012

Pocket Poetry Day

On one hand, it’s NFL DRAFT DAY!!!!!!! (Jumping up and performing cartwheels. Go Chiefs!)  But on the other hand, today is also Poem In Your Pocket Day.  I didn’t carry a poem in my pocket today; I let the world of poets down. To try to make up for my poetic indiscretion, I am re-blogging a post dedicated to my relationship to poetry.

I don’t think I need to show any love for the NFL or the Kansas City Chiefs since I wear that heart on my sleeve almost 24/7, so here is the post with some editorial updates in ( ):

The final chat presentation at last week’s Catholic Writers Conference Online was Catholic Poetry with David Craig.  Since it was the final chat, I listened in.  During the discussion, I had a poetry flashback.  Back in sophomore honors English, my teacher, Mrs. Goheen, gave us the assignment of memorizing and reciting a poem in front of the class.  I was/am not a huge fan of poetry (Note: It’s getting better) to begin with, so this was an assignment akin to flossing and brushing the dog’s teeth.  When I see poetry in books, the words get fuzzy and begin to dance around into a deadly vortex (Note: It’s getting better).  As the same time, I admit there are several poems and poets I really like (Note: Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, Frost) .  Well, anyway, completely true to form, I forget all about the memorization assignment until late evening the night before we are to be thrown to the wolves.  I search frantically through our home bookshelf listening to the “I told you so’s” from dear Mother and the laughing of the brothers.  All in the know go to bed that night thinking old MH is toast in the morning in English class.

I sit in class the next morning, waiting to be called to the gallows.  When my name is called, I feel the class and Mrs. Goheen in anticipation of great failure as I walk to the front of the class.  For those who don’t know me, I am a lineman, plain and simple.  I was probably the last over the cut line to get into honors English. I was a seat filler, a butt in the seat (Note: Always the dumbest in the smart group and being a decent to good athlete did not help me one bit with the “honors” class teachers).  So, there I stand in front of the class, trying not to make eye contact with anyone.  I crack my knuckles and clear my throat for a little slapstick comic relief, take my best Shakespearian stance and begin.

The Duck

Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It quacks.
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms ups.

The Duck by Odgen Nash

I can’t remember what grade I received on the project.  The audience seemed entertained and Mrs. Goheen seemed satisfied with the selection (Note: She still saw me as a dumb jock at this point, and I didn’t really do anything to convince her otherwise until my late year cutting-edge, incisive biography book report on Bob Dylan).  I am sure it was probably a B+.   Mrs. Goheen asked why I picked that particular poem.  I told her it was my favorite poem, but in all reality, it fit when written on the top of my tennis shoe, just in case I got stage fright.  But, The Duck became my favorite poem and still the only one I have burned to memory.  Thank you Ogden Nash.

Happy Poem In Your Pocket Day to one and all!

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Resiliency is  vital in tough situations. Resiliency with a little humor and smart-assedness is my favorite. I particularly like these photos from Fayetteville last week after the firing of the University of Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino for “misleading and manipulative behavior”. (For details of this story of the downfall of one of the absolute worst  character coaches in the profession, see here.)

You may not consider a college football coach scandal is a “tough” situation, but for some of us who are, or were, in the eat, sleep and live your favorite teams category, it is a tough situation. At a proud, tradition-rich football school like the University of Arkansas, there is A LOT of eating, sleeping and living Razorback football.  I do like the humor, the smart assedness, and the resiliency shown by these men. I laughed for an extended period when I first saw them. True, it is a sad, embarrassing situation for all involved, but here are a couple guys who have taken the first step to normalcy in their turned-over-on-its-head college sports fandom experience. I would bet these guys are ready to move onto the next coach, the next season; to put on their Hog hats on a fall Saturday afternoon and head to the stadium. That’s resiliency.

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At Grandpa’s Bird Feeder

This is one of the first stories for kids  I ever wrote. I found it recently cleaning through some old files. It’s probably from around 1991 or so, and believe it or not, it is one of those almost true stories. 

At Grandpa’s house, we used to throw stale crumbs to the birds in the front yard. The birds would eat the crumbs and fly away. But not anymore.

Since we bought Grandpa a bird feeder, the birds stay around all day. He tied the bird feeder to a branch of his oak tree and filled it with wild birdseed. When the birds land on the feeder, it rocks back and forth like a swing.

At Grandpa’s house, we used to watch television or play video games all day long. But not anymore.

Now we kneel on the sofa and watch the bird feeder from the picture window. There are robins and blackbirds and bluebirds and blue jays and cardinals and doves. Boy, there’s a lot of action at Grandpa’s bird feeder!

At Grandpa’s house,we used to run in and out of the house, make lots of noise, and bother Grandma as she tried to do her chores. But not anymore.

Now we follow Grandpa around and help him fill the bird feeder with wild birdseed. Sometimes, Grandpa gets mad at the blackbirds and yells,”Those darn blackbirds, they’re eatin’ me out of house and home!”
We all laugh when Grandpa yells at the blackbirds, even though Grandma says swearing at birds is not in the least bit funny.

At Grandpa’s house,we used to have wrestling matches and sometimes thing accidentally broke. Grandma would get VERY upset when her things broke! But not anymore.

Now we spend most of our time watching the bird feeder and playing games to see who can name the birds the fastest or count the most of each kind. It’s even better than wrestling, Grandma says.

At Grandpa’s house, we used to listen to Grandma’s stories about her bridge club, her bowling league, or how beautiful the neighbor’s third cousin’s sister’s wedding was. But not anymore.

Now she tells exciting stories about happenings at the bird feeder.”Kids, these two sparrows were on the bird feeder using their beaks to knock seeds to the ground and there were all these birds on the ground munching seeds! You could barely see any grass! Oh my! You should have been here to see it!”
(Since we bought the bird feeder, Grandma’s stories are much more interesting.)

At Grandpa’s house, we used to see very few animals when we visited because they live in the city. But not anymore.

Now we see hundreds of birds flying around the bird feeder, eating seeds, or sitting on branches.We also see squirrels and rabbits and cats and dogs, it’s almost as fun as the zoo!

At Grandpa’s house, we used to wonder where the birds would go when they left the yard. There weren’t any birdhouses or bird nests in Grandpa’s tree or in any other trees in the neighborhood. But not anymore.

Now we build our own birdhouses from a set of plans Grandpa found at the garden shop.We went to the lumberyard to buy the wood. Grandpa cut out the pieces for the birdhouses then we glued them together and painted them. Now, almost every tree in Grandpa’s neighborhood has a birdhouse.

At Grandpa’s house, we used to mope around with long faces because we’d be bored and couldn’t find anything to do. But not anymore.

Now there’s always something to do…At Grandpa’s bird feeder!

At Grandpa’s Birdfeeder by Mike Hays, April 2012

What do you think? Is there any potential for this old story? If you liked it, leave a comment. If you didn’t, also feel free to leave a comment. 

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