Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April is National Poetry Month

I like to post poems, usually not my own, here during April.  Yesterday I read the following new poem to my poetry class and decided that, actually, it worked better read with a little drama than it seemed on the page.  However, I'm posting it here for the start of the month. The picture is of the Mayflower in Cape Cod Harbor which figures in the poem.  The  poem itself was inspired, as it says, because I just read Thoreau's Cape Cod and found a footnote that resonated in my imagination.


Oprah and Peregrine

One morning I saw Oprah step out of a limo
In front of the Plaza Hotel, assistants poured
Onto the sidewalk as she walked regally
Up the steps never glancing at gawkers like me.
For the next two weeks I told everyone,
“I saw Oprah,” basking in rub-off celebrity.
Friends had their stories, many better than mine. 

Americans love celebrities, just a glimpse
Makes us feel special. An old phenomenon.
A footnote in Thoreau’s Cape Cod records
A proud glimpse of Peregrine White.  Who?
500 years has erased Peregrine’s fame.
Born aboard the Mayflower in Cape Cod Harbor,
November, 1620--the first Massachusetts born settler.
Said the person who chanced to glimpse Peregrine
Shortly before he died at 83, “He was vigorous
And of a comely Aspect to the last…”
Oprah is vigorous and comely and apt to stay that way.
“Altho’ he was in the former part of his Life extravagant”
Certainly something we can say about Oprah 
…”yet [he] was much Reformed in his last years
and died Hopefully.” … Hopefully?
Today’s extravagant celebrities do not seem headed
For Reform. But who can say? Will they die “Hopefully”? 
The gossip media will surely let us know.

Perhaps Peregrine deserves a statue with a plaque
Proclaiming him “Original American Celebrity:
A Prototype for Celebrity-hood.”
We of the Chance Glimpse Crowd should remember
“A cat may look at a king but will always be a cat.”

2 comments:

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June -- Very nice. Celebrity-hood. Why is it with all the millions of folks in this country we seem to run into a celebrity by chance once in a blue moon. Oprah is an icon of celebrity-hood. Once I ran into Princess Anne touring Santa Fe with her ladies-in-waiting and once my daughter and granddaughter shook hands with former president Jimmy Carter as he was riding on the same plane as they were. Happenstance happens. And how fun to tell the stories of it -- or to make into a wonderful creative poem.

June Calender said...

Thanks. ABsolutely, happenstance happens.