Dan Finally Contributes to NPM — 2019

Below are my own meager offerings to celebrate National Poetry Month. I say “meager” because I’m not a poet. In my writing, I specialize in O.S. (that is, Other Stuff). But, to honor the occasion, I offer five poems I wrote and one that was given to me. I wrote the first three in the Ahwahnee “Great Room” in Yosemite this month. They are “hybrid” versions of the sonnet form‚ non-rhyming poems with 14 lines and sonnet-like rhythms. I hope Shakespeare will forgive me. The last one is “mine” only because it was given to me.
Click below to download a PDF of this post:

An Older One

I wrote this next free-verse poem in 2013.  It was inspired by a painting Gretta and I found in a hotel lobby in Philadelphia on our way to the patio at the back of the hotel beside the river.  So, what were we doing wandering the streets of Philadelphia?  Let’s start with the back story —

We were on a three-week trip to view the Fall colors in the Northeast.  Started in Vermont, crossed New Hampshire, up to Kennebunkport Maine, down to Connecticut, and then — we planned to visit Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and then back up to New York City.  The fall colors were spectacular indeed, especially in Vermont and New Hampshire — perhaps a story for another time.    –> BUT the United States government, in its infinite wisdom, was shut down at the end of September because the Congress and the White House couldn’t agree on a budget.  We weren’t too concerned until we read in the news that, since the city of Washington D.C. is not part of a state, its city budget is governed by the Congress as [art of the Federal budget.  SO, city services were stopped and that meant that the garbage was not going to be picked up while we would be there.  THAT was the last straw; so, we decided to skip Washington entirely and spend a few extra days in Philadelphia.  That led to an afternoon of free time, which we spent walking downtown looking for a place to have a drink and an afternoon snack.  So, back to the painting …

Walking through the hotel lobby for the first time, a painting called Figures In a Boat by a local artist, caught my attention and made me ask, “What’s the story?”  My first impression is recorded in the first part of the poem (“First Look”).  At the end of the afternoon, walking back through the lobby past the painting again, it made a different impression. “Second Look” described that second impression.   So, here is my poem, “First Look, Second Look,” in its two parts:

First Look, Second Look

By Dan Sapone (aka PapaDan)

Another Old One

For those interested in the esoterica of poetic rhythm (OK, sure there must be at least ONE of you), here is a completely absurd little … uh … poem about the relative virtues of iambic vs trochaic pentameter.  Once again, it violates most of the rules of sonnets — 14 lines and no rhyme but it has some fun with the rhythm.

Finally (Honest) A Poem That Was Given To Me (I didn’t write it)

I will call him a humanist. One afternoon fifty-some years ago, my Dad told me to join him in the living room.  “Sit down here, Dan, I have something to give you.”  He told me that he had a poem to give me and he wanted me to learn it.  While he was an avid reader he wasn’t what you’d call a “literary” type; nor was he noticeably a “religious” man.  I will call him a humanist. I was not aware of an interest in poetry.  He held a book in his hand and I figured he was going to read something to me.  But he didn’t open the book but proceeded to “give” the poem to me from memory.    
Here it is:

The Touch of the Master’s Hand

By Myra Brooks Welch

It was battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But he held it up with a smile.
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?”
“A dollar, a dollar.  Then two! Only two?
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?”

“Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
Going for three…” But no,
From the room, far back, a grey-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening its loosened strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet,
As a caroling angel sings.

And when he was done, the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: “What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
Three thousand, once; three thousand, twice,
And going and gone,” said he.

And the people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand.
What changed its worth?” Swift came the reply:
‘Twas the touch of the Master’s hand.”
And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred by sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd
Much like the old violin.

A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine,
A game — and he travels on.
He is “going” once, and “going” twice,
He’s “going” and almost “gone.”
When the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never does quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.

I hope you have enjoyed National Poetry Month.

Several of you contributed to National Poetry Month.  
In case you missed them, here are links to their contributions:

From Dorty:  https://convivio-online.net/national-poetry-month-is-here-april-2019/
From Lauren:  https://convivio-online.net/lauren-celebrates-national-poetry-month/
From Gretta:  https://convivio-online.net/peek-a-boo-where-are-you/

From Steven Peterson:  https://convivio-online.net/steve-peterson-celebrates-national-poetry-month/

From Janet:  https://convivio-online.net/national-poetry-month-janets-favorites/

From Stephen Faletti: https://convivio-online.net/a-faletti-poetic-contribution/

3 Responses “Dan Finally Contributes to NPM — 2019”

  1. Tom Faletti says:

    With your father’s deep respect for humanity, it seems fitting that he found meaning in that old poem. I was too young to see him in action much, but I think of the people who stopped me on the street and said, “You’re A.J. Sapone’s grandson,” and proceeded to rave about how he was their insurance agent and was there for them in a time of need. And I remember how he treated me when I had a one-car accident when I was only 16 or 17 — how I feared being reproached and instead felt loved as he first asked if I was OK and never suggested that I had done anything wrong. I suspect many more stories could be told of how “the worth of a soul” was more properly valued because it was in the hands of A.J. Sapone. Whether he had a religious instinct about it or not, he was channeling the touch of a Master in how he dealt with people. (And perhaps that is how he saw it — that he was called to be a “master” at bringing out the best in others.) At least that’s how it looks from the perhaps naive child’s and young man’s eyes through which I was privileged to view him.

  2. Lewis Bell says:

    Love it all. Can’t say especially your dad’s, but it was really special. You were so fortunate to grow up with a father.

  3. Dorty Nowak says:

    Thanks Dan, and thanks to all my fellow poets published here!