A few weeks ago, I featured poet Gary J. Whitehead. Being the student of Whitehead has definitely shaped my own writing.
Today, I am sharing with you a poem I wrote my senior year in high school when Whitehead went on a writer’s residency to a secluded cabin in Oregon for six months.
This poem happened to win 2nd place at my university’s annual poetry contest, the Prentiss Cheney Hoyt Poetry Contest.
I have since changed the title, but the poem is the same:
I think of the man in the woods,
his words of fat bees and the under-bellies
of planes. I imagine him in his hammock, notebook
in lap, the thick smell of sap around him.
He forms in my head, that familiar face
like the morning light. I come down the stairs
of his cabin with two tall glasses of lemonade.
I cross the field to where he lies. His beard
is short, his neck browned beneath the sun,
yet he looks peaceful, wise.
I remind him of buttered bagels
and the taste right of New Jersey.
He says, “I’ve forgotten those who’ve forgotten me.”
I speak of shells with pink insides.
He teaches me how to play chess.
I remind him of where he came from
and he reminds me of where I am going.
*What inspires you to write?*