Sunday, June 10, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #3

by Joy Renee

Wondering who and what and when and where and why and
How do we answer so many questions when you only question all of our answers,
Asking how and why and where and when and what and
Who knows the truth, the whole truth and anyway, even nothing but the truth leaves you
Pleading who and how and where and why and what and
When you learn we haven’t enough answers, you will turn from us,
Questing for when and who and how and where and why and
What can we do to keep you safe from all the hurtful answers yet not thwart your
Seeking for what and when and who and how and why and
Where will we find answers to satisfy your
Demanding need to know where and what and when and who and how and
Why is it that when we look at you we see the answer to all our questions?

The story behind the poem:
This past week a niece and a nephew graduated from high-school. Next weekend another niece, the sister of the grad, is getting married. These are three of my husband's two brother's kids. Fifteen years ago, all three of our families lived in the Longview, Washington area. For most of three years prior to that my little two-bedroom apartment was teeming with kids between the ages of newborn and thirteen on many days of the week. Besides those two families there were several others among neighbors, friends or relatives or relatives of relatives who would drop their kids off for an hour or day, an overnight or a weekend.

Then suddenly everything changed. In the space of about three months they were all gone. My two brother-in-law's families moved out of town. Since some of the kids frequently visiting had been cousins of one family from their mother's side, I lost them as well. Another mother quit her job. Another found someone with a car who was willing to watch her kids at their own home. And so forth.

The night my husband and I got back home to Longview from the trip down to the Rogue Valley (where we are currently living) to help his brother move his family, I was distraught. The five rooms of our apartment rang with the hollow echos of silence. Sitting alone, after my husband went to bed, I thumbed through the photos struggling to stem the tide of tears. It was then that some of the phrases of the above poem came to me like a gift.

The two above-mentioned grads had just turned three around New Year's that year. About a year before, they had begun that stage where they seemed to wake up in the morning asking questions and not stop until sleep shushed them. That stage where every attempt to answer them only elicited another question. Remembering that coaxed a smile from me and with it the line: How do we answer so many questions when you only question all of our answers?

After writing that down, I started playing with the list of question words and writing down some of the questions I remembered one or another kid had asked. Most of that musing did not survive the many re-visions over the next several weeks. But that line did and one other that came to me that same night: Why is it that when we look at you we see the answer to all our questions?

I knew I had my beginning and my ending. The rest was a matter of a lot of shuffling lines and rearranging words until the concepts flowed in a natural progression from one to the other. Notice that the whole thing is one, long, run-on sentence. Whether reading it aloud or silently, read as though you have to say every word without taking another breath after the first one.


Note that the title of the poem is a link. It takes you to, directly to the page where I 'borrowed' the pic and where prints of it in various sizes are for sale. I hope that linking back to the page where I found it satisfies the fair use rules.


For those of you following the last three posts and who might be suspecting that I've been busy 'vanity Googling', come back Tuesday for the real explanation. I wrote it here first but it ran to several hundred words. I decided it off topic for Poetry Train and should have the honor of belonging to its own post. The short version is that it is major WIP. Three actually if you include Sunday Serenity.


And now, here is today's reminder that you are invited to join me on Sunday Serenity.

It has occurred to me that many might find it difficult to blog on the weekends. If so, you are welcome to post on Monday or even Friday and leave your comment in the previous Sunday's edition at the hub with the permalink to your post. If you choose Friday, which has the benefit of leaving your post on top over the weekend, then I will transfer your link to the new edition at the time I open it.


1. Rhian / Crowwoman 2. MyUtopia 3. Heather Harper 4. RED GARNIER 5. Carol 6. Susan Helene Gottfried 7. Anna J. Evans 8. Amy Ruttan 9. Ann 10.Rebecca

10 tell me a story:

Rhian 6/11/2007 5:22 AM  

powerful poem Joy and the imagery amps it up.

Kelly 6/11/2007 7:02 AM  

What a wonderful poem!

Heather Harper 6/11/2007 7:38 AM  

Very nice. Thanks for sharing the backstory. :)

Red Garnier 6/11/2007 8:43 AM  

I loved your poem, Joy. It really called to me. And the backstory was very beautiful, too.

When you learn we haven’t enough answers, you will turn from us,


Carol 6/11/2007 9:46 AM  

Beautiful and so true, and now my grandchildren ask the questions. Carol

Susan Helene Gottfried 6/11/2007 10:00 AM  

Oh, man. That poem hit home in a big way; I'm trying to pick a kindergarten for my daughter. (well, it's MUCH more convoluted than that; thus my recent T13, which is only part of the chaos over here)

At any rate, I am feeling/hearing the same things, although from a different viewpoint.

Anna J. Evans 6/11/2007 10:30 AM  

Loved this, my little one is just getting to the 'why' stage :). His favorite questions now are 'what you doing mama?' 'why dat?"

anna j evans

Amy Ruttan 6/11/2007 3:10 PM  

Great poem and thanks for the backstory into the poem!

That's the way my family used to be, now we're spread all over.

Ann 6/11/2007 3:25 PM  

Great poem. Wonderful use of the questions.

Rebecca 6/11/2007 5:29 PM  

lovely poem Joy - and the backstory, all your sadness at that time, really added to it.

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