Steve Peterson Celebrates National Poetry Month

In response to our celebration of National Poetry Month and old friend, and former ConVivio contributor Steven J. Peterson, offers two of his favorite poems.

Steve has appeared on ConVivio before as a
Guest Storyteller.  His previous appearance
on ConVivio can be found at:
Click here to download a PDF of this post:

Steven writes:

Since I read your ConVivio post requesting poems, I have been thinking about poems that I like.  
I recalled that in the 1980s I read a lot of poetry, but have not read poetry with any consistency in the past twenty years.  Makes me wonder how decades slip by so quickly.

I recalled that when I was in high school I was charmed by Dylan Thomas’s “Fern Hill,” especially the opening line: “Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs,” which made me think of the first “serious” play I attended at Moorhead (Minnesota) State College, these days called Minnesota State University at Moorhead (MSUM).  The play was “Dylan” by Sidney Michaels, written in 1964.  I saw it performed in April of 1966 near the end of my junior year of high school, about six weeks before my family moved from Minnesota to California.  I thought it was a “great” play, but what did I know?  I was two months away from my seventeenth birthday.  I would like to see that play again. But never mind about that.

Below are two poems I like, “The Red Wheelbarrow” and “Where They Were and What They Were Doing.”



The Red Wheelbarrow
by William Carlos Williams, Published in 1923

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Where They Were and What They Were Doing

by Matt Cook

I was looking through Milwaukee newspapers

From the day after John F. Kennedy was shot-

There was this auto body worker

Who brought his BB gun to work that day;

He was arrested for shooting his BB gun

Out the windows of the body plant

At passing automobiles-

That’s where he was and what he was doing

On the day President Kennedy was assassinated.

There was this biochemist.

He was giving this speech at some university in town-

He was inviting the audience to imagine

A strain of pneumonia bacteria

That was wearing a heavy armor suit that was actually made of protein

That was his public speaking metaphor.

His point was that the protein would act like

A shield against white blood cells.

That’s what that guy was up to that day.

And just outside of town somewhere,

A car slammed into a truck on a rainy highway.

The car guy died of head injuries;

The truck guy was in satisfactory condition with neck pain.

In satisfactory condition with neck pain-

That’s where that guy was, and what he was doing.

The day President Kennedy was shot,

These kids broke into a junior high school.

They stole twenty dollars worth of stamps,

And smashed up an aquarium.

That was their story;

That’s where they were and what they were doing.

“Where They Were and What They Were Doing” by Matt Cook, from In the Small of My Backyard. © Manic D Press, 2002.

Comments are closed