The job of wax­ing po­etic can be quite fre­netic

The Covington News - - OPINION -

“I have got­ten bad news and am much the worse for it.

I’ve just found out I’m not the na­tion’s poet lau­re­ate.

I made a great ef­fort. I put up a good fight.

But in­stead the job went to a guy named Charles Wright.

Burma Shave.”

The pre­ced­ing stanza should tell you I got hosed. I would have made a great poet lau­re­ate. But, alas, the good folks at the Li­brary of Congress didn’t seem to think so and it is their vote that counts. I think they were swayed by the fact that Dr. Wright, a re­tired pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia, has won a Pulitzer Prize and a bunch of other awards for his po­etry.

Dana Gioia, for­mer chair­man of the Na­tional En­dow­ment for the Arts, was quoted as say­ing Dr. Wright “has spent a life­time re­fin­ing lan­guage to cre­ate po­etry of tremen­dous evoca­tive power.” Okay, fine. But I would re­mind the pow­ers-that-be that I am not ex­actly po­etic chopped liver my­self. I re­fined a lot of tremen­dous evoca­tive power as edi­tor of one of na­tion’s fore­most high school news­pa­pers, The Rus­sell Wild­cat. And it didn’t take me a life­time, just my se­nior year.

In the in­ter­ven­ing time, I have de­voted my life’s work to as­sist­ing our in­trepid pub­lic ser­vants un­der the Gold Dome in the dis­charge of their solemn du­ties. That has kept me from con­cen­trat­ing on my goal of be­com­ing the na­tion’s poet lau­re­ate. With all due re­spect, I’m not sure Dr. Wright has la­bored un­der sim­i­lar pres­sure.

In spite of the long, gru­el­ing hours I have put into this some­times thank­less task of pro­vid­ing ad­vice and coun­sel to my friends in the Leg­is­la­ture, I have still man­aged to knock out a lot of re­ally good po­ems. I don’t make a big deal out of it be­cause of my God-given mod­esty but, hope­fully, the world will soon dis­cover that I can eas­ily hang with Dr. Wright and Dr. Seuss and all the other renowned poets of our time. Con­sider my paean to the re­cently-passed gun bill:

“We have a new gun law in Ge­or­gia that I have writ­ten about.

We can now arm our­selves in church. Of that, there is no doubt.

Ap­plause to a leg­is­la­tor from Pick­ens County is due.

It was his bright idea. Rick Jasperse,

Rick Jasperdo.”

And there is this canto which I call, “How Govern­ment Works.” I am told it is a par­tic­u­lar fa­vorite of many leg­is­la­tors:

“Our ethics leg­is­la­tion is just fine. Please don’t rock the boat.

Yes, I play golf with a lob­by­ist but it won’t af­fect my vote.

Ours is a case of great mu­tual af­fec­tion.

They give me dol­lars and I win re-elec­tion.”

Po­etry is also a won­der­ful way to bridge the ide­o­log­i­cal gaps that may ex­ist be­tween us and to cre­ate an aura of mu­tual re­spect for one an­other’s views, no mat­ter how dis­parate. That is why I penned the fol­low­ing:

“Hail! Hail! To the Lib­eral Wee­nie.

I wish they thought me not such a meanie.

They are al­ways cov­er­ing Obama’s tush

By blam­ing ev­ery­thing on Ge­orge W. Bush.

For them, there is no in-be­tweeny.”

And I don’t write Pulitzer Prize ma­te­rial? Get real.

Po­etry is not as easy as Dr. White and I make it look. For one thing, you don’t just sit down and rhyme stuff. There are many dif­fer­ent schools of po­etry, from mod­ernism to ro­man­ti­cism to sur­re­al­ism through which we choose to shape our in­ner­most thoughts and plumb our emo­tional depths. In my case, my po­etry has been heav­ily in­flu­enced by the school of laun­dry­ism, mean­ing that whether I write it or rhyme it, I am al­most guar­an­teed to get some­body’s shorts in a wad. For ex­am­ple:

“There was an old woman who lived in a Gu­atemalan shoe.

She had so many chil­dren, she didn’t know what to do.

So she sent them to our bor­der

And told the pres­i­dent he oughta

Ad­mit them and Hon­duran chil­dren, too.”

Frankly, it feels good to wax po­etic for a change. It cer­tainly eases the pain of not be­ing named our na­tion’s poet lau­re­ate. I wish Dr. Charles Wright all the best in his new as­sign­ment and to show there are no hard feel­ings, I re­spect­fully ded­i­cate this poem to him:

“You got a job that I would like to have got­ten.

But that’s okay; some­times life can be rot­ten.

While you may be the mas­ter of the po­etic me­ter

Be­ing a much-beloved colum­nist makes my life just as com­pleter.

Burma Shave.”

You can reach Dick Yar­brough at yarb2400@ bel­lsouth.net; at P.O. Box 725373, At­lanta, Ge­or­gia 31139; on­line at dick­yarbrough.com or on Face­book at www.face­book. com/dick­yarb.

DICK YAR­BROUGH

COLUM­NIST

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