Rumpus Original Poems

National Poetry Month Day 22: “The Limit” by Adam McGovern

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The Limit

“I don’t see them,” I said
when my mom told me men were landing on the moon
but I wasn’t surprised they were, and why would I be,
I was expecting them
at that age, in that era when you had no idea what doesn’t happen
Looking up at the moon, where we might as well have been,
driving at night through gray desert under a banner of stars
My dad had the radio on but he couldn’t see them either,
so he veered into one isolated motel
long, A-framed, like some arrow sticking out of the ground,
and rapped on the door to let us watch on the lobby TV
The old man at the desk drifted over —
they hadn’t been watching it either —
and we stared, standing, at the waves of static
that we couldn’t make a thing out in
and why should we,
since I was sure this was bouncing not from some news studio
but directly from the moon
which had a long way to go
We spent a lot of time like that, between worlds,
visiting relatives on the bright side of the continent
from the gray, concrete east
moving almost twenty times.
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National Poetry Month Day 1: “To Proceed, You Must First Understand” by Barbara Jane Reyes

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Welcome to National Poetry Month 2015! For the last six years, we here at The Rumpus have run a new poem every day in April (and often into May) to celebrate this under-appreciated art form. We’ve tried to be diverse in our choices, both in terms of the poets whose work we’ve featured and in the styles (or schools, if you will) of poetry we pulled from.

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National Poetry Month Day 30: “Jubilate Patro” by Brian Spears

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Jubilate Patro

For I will consider my father Sam
For he praises God in his mumbles and circular stories
For his left arm is crooked to remind him of original sin
For half his brain was cut off from blood when he was a baby
For it rewired itself
For his right arm is mighty in exchange
For with it he did not spare the rod
For he was an elder until Alzheimer’s took away his memory
For he was an accountant until Alzheimer’s took away his memory
For he praised God in his mumbles and circular stories before Alzheimer’s took his memory and thus it is a part of his soul
For he is still a storyteller even though he gets lost in his stories sometimes
For with his right arm he taught me how to snap off a curveball
For with his left arm he taught me to drive a stick shift
For with his half-brain he taught me to praise God among strangers
For he never explained football to me, but made me learn it myself
For he is taller than me even with the curve in his spine that causes him pain
For I will never know another man greater than him
For his favorite animal was the porcupine, a creature of defense
For when I was a child and beaten by bullies he told me it was right to defend myself with a tree branch
For he taught me what a lie was by reading to me of Ananias and Sapphira
For I became a poet anyway
For I used that tree branch and knocked one boy silly
For he made me listen to Hank Williams even when I didn’t want to
For because of him I can still quote chapter and verse of the Gospels
For he can still dance
For when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s he came to see me even though I had left the church and was an unrepentant sinner
For he taught me that there is no such thing as a fair fight
For when he accidentally bloodied my nose, he apologized in tears
For I still have his copy of Dick Clark’s 20 Years of Rock and Roll
For when Louis Jordan came on the stereo he would grab my mother and twirl her in the living room of our trailer so that the floors shook
For he made me hold a nail while he hit it with a hammer and so taught me trust
For I learned to drive a nail myself at 7
For he drove a dump truck with one good arm and so taught me that while I may be able to do all things, some times I should not
For he has more hair than I do
For when I told him that I had been excised from the church, he hung up on me to praise God in the only way he knew how
For he took me to see Chuck Berry when I was 15
For because of him I worked shit jobs and thus built character
For because of that I appreciated college when I finally went
For he knew there is glorious music in a car engine even if he didn’t always know how to coax it forth
For he taught me to always carry jumper cables
For he went to his father’s bedside when it was time for him to die
For he stayed a month and helped build the coffin
For he would not let the funeral be held in a Kingdom Hall in order to protect the body of the church
For he taught me there are things more important than family and sometimes I hate him for that
For his father is Jehovah and he has no son anymore

-Brian Spears

Author’s note: I wrote this poem about five years ago when my relationship with my father was strained.

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