National Poetry Month 2020 soon comes to a close. It’s been a whirlwind of poems that included prompts from NaPoWriMo, aka National Poetry Writing Month, a poetry webslam on the Writers of Kern blog, and numerous virtual poetry postings and readings via Facebook, InstaGram, and Zoom.
Each year, one day in April is deemed “Poem in Your Pocket Day.” This year, it’s April 30. My usual routine for PinYPD is to copy and print some favorite poems, some of my own and others of famous poets, and actually carry them with me. I approach people, friends and strangers alike, and ask them if they’d allow me to read them a poem. (In all the years I’ve done this, no one has ever refused.)
I whip out a poem and read it aloud, then present the paper to them. The responses have been remarkable. Most are surprised and pleased to get to have a poem to keep. Some have said, “I really needed to hear that today.” Some have wept. I’ve found it both heartwarming and encouraging to share the poems.
In this April of social distancing, I’m going to have to find a different way to put poems in folks’ pockets. This blog post is one method. I’ll also share a poem on my Facebook pages because I know poetry speaks to all people, often on different levels and in different layers. It’s a direct connector.
In her poem “What Would Gwendolyn Brooks Do?” (asking in light of today’s world) Parneshia Jones wrote:
Hold On, she says, two million light years away.
Hold On everybody.
Hold On because the poets are still alive—and writing.
Hold On to the last of the disappearing bees
and that Great Barrier Reef.
Hold On to the one sitting next to you,
not masked behind some keyboard.
The one right next to you.
The ones who live and love right next to you.
Hold On to them.
Yes, the poets are still alive and writing, shining the light on history as we live it, distilling it to its essence, making pictures for our hearts, our souls, our heads, our pockets. Gratitude to the poets.
~ xoA ~
As we close out National Poetry Month 2020, here’s a poem for your pocket. Read it aloud. All poetry is meant to be heard.
I want to cross that same river twice
Even though Alice says we can’t
That river in Ann Arbor in ‘72
Where I’m behind the wheel
Of my daisy-decorated VW ragtop
That river where other drivers
Vee’d their fingers, palm out
Where my young daughters
beltless in the back seat
Vee’d their fingers, too
Sang out, Peace sign, Mama!
He gave us the peace sign
And we gave it back!
I want to cross that river again
Feel the love for mankind
Feel the hope
Feel the glow
Of knowing and showing
Peace and Love
We can cross that same river, Alice
Are we that much different now?
©Annis Cassells. September 2019.