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I've Never Been a Poet

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

For a long time, I hated poetry. Not like I hated pimento cheese or getting popcorn hulls stuck in my teeth at the beginning of a movie (then having to sit uncomfortably through the whole thing because who brings floss to the theater?), but I hated in the way I hated multivariable calculus. I like numbers and solving problems, but I didn't understand what I was looking at half the time. That was poetry for me.

I had a best friend who loved it, and oh boy, was he good at it. I wrote a poem for a creative writing class I took as an undergrad at the George Washington University. I never showed it to my buddy. I knew it wouldn't live up to anything he'd ever create, and in a way, I was afraid. He wasn't scary or rude, but I didn't want to disappoint him by not being good. He's not with us anymore, this buddy of mine, and one of my many regrets is that he never got to see me shed my fear and show my writing.

I'm posting that poem below. I'm under no delusion that it's good, but it shows where my head was some ten or so years ago after my great grandma had passed. I have an aunt who's a poet. Maybe she'll like it, or at the least, she'll appreciate that I put it out there.

Give Me Flowers

Give me flowers while I’m living

I cannot see them when I’m gone

You see, the time is now for giving.

Not over my grave, checking your phone.

Waiting for my lights to fade

It’s like hell to you, I know.

I too know hell, that’s where I’m going

For the bible tells me so.

Or was that my daughter,

The oldest of five,

who swore she knew me best.

No, give me my flowers while I’m alive,

Not clutching a rag and holding your chest.

Crying so the world can see

Just how much love you had for me,

But I can’t see it. And couldn’t then.

‘specially when you stood before all of your friends

And planned my life, and what’s after life,

First the nursing home, then the grave.

I stared at the spot where the sun shone in, perfect

for the flowers you never gave.

For the lady’s mantle that gives me comfort.

For daisies that gives me hope.

For the aloe that always protects me.

Hell, for anything that helps me cope.

I’ve never asked you for anything—

And it pains me now to try—

But give me flowers while I’m living

It’s too late to care once I die.

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