Jane (From Primer Days) Thinking about Events in Staten Island, December 2014
Hi. I’m Jane as in Dick-and.
And I’m a wreck.
Even though the curbs of my world are perfectly
squared off and all my streets have just the right
amount of shade.
This is because the trees here manage always
the optimal height for a nice new subdivision–not too tall but also not
too small–sort of like
Goldilock’s porridge, only
Sometimes, a cat scrambles up one–such fun–
and Mother, who wears high heels
with her apron, calls
the fire department or, if the firemen can’t come,
The police, who wear blue jackets with yellow
buttons, always have time
for cats, and if you ever somehow stray
in your play, hopscotch
a square too far,
they walk you back
below those just-right trees,
sometimes touching your hand
but never more than–
Unless you are lost with your baby sister,
in which case, the policeman carries her and showing,
just over the crook
of his dark blue arm, are ruffles.
Even with the ruffles, it’s a world
pretend pressed onto
page–we, its only
Yes, I know, some people leaf through
my old world and think it was not
because our pages showed stuff like
red balls that are real enough–
the red balls that only Dick tossed, caught, lost–
(Me, I never got to toss
a Dick-lost ball.)
There was also our hard cover,
yellow and blue, just like
our hair/eyes, the policeman’s
But oh, you’ve got to know–
we were pressed
so flat in here–I’ve made myself
as flat as they come
and believe me–that is not a kind of flatness
that comes just from holding
Speaking of which–breath, I mean.
You know, breathing–
I mean, here I am speaking–speaking
and yet I can’t, you know,
Because when you are pressed flat, see,
that’s what happens.
Here’s a drafty poem of sorts for Shay/Fireblossom’s prompt on With Real Toads so write a “mash-up” poem putting some character/ historic figure in an unusual context. I had a hard time thinking of what to write; my mind has been very taken up with the recent events in New York City concerning the death of Eric Garner, and I could not really think of anything else to write about. That said, I really do not want to seem flippant about these very serious events. I sincerely hope this doesn’t come across that way. The illustrations are mine, in pencil–so sorry that the erasures show!
Process Note–Primer here is pronounced “primmer” and is a word for a primary level text-book. For those who don’t know or remember, the Dick and Jane books were primer reading books, popular in the 50’s and 60’s.
For those of you who are outside the U.S., or haven’t been following the Garner case within the U.S., here’s a timeline of events around the case, with links to articles–timeline.