KINDERGARTEN FOR POETS
And it was at that age...Poetry arrived in search of me
Ignore Billy who’s bothering Louise
with his sestina, repeating his six words
in her ear when he thinks the teacher
You’re five and September is the month
of poetry subjects:
All About Me, Bones, Love, Roads, The Five Senses
Before your parents leave,
Mr. Pound says what you will do today:
Orally combine words to make a complete thought
Practice proper writing posture
The ABCs of reading
For show and tell, you bring in a cliché
and everyone points it out.
You write your first haiku:
I still dream about being
After story time, you tell the librarian
you enjoyed Beowulf just so he’ll smile and nod.
Li-Young shares his peaches with you at lunch
and you want to touch his hand.
Back in class you realize you have a crush
on Sharon who keeps pulling up her dress.
Wallace mumbles something in the center
of circletime. Few can understand him,
but everyone smiles in agreement.
Quiet Jane prefers to sit alone with a fresh daisy
on her desk. She stares out the window
and notices how dandelions form
into letters: O, Q, lowercase i.
You share a desk with Gwendolyn
and listen to her stories.
In the days to come you will learn
there is no way to stop Logan
from kicking the back of your chair,
or reminding you
that you wore that shirt
yesterday, the same green shirt,
and you dot your i’s wrong. In fact
everything you do is wrong. Well, not wrong,
but not necessarily right.
Later, Franz beats him up after school
and things feel better for a while.
On Halloween, you dress up like a pantoum
and repeat yourself all day.
You are starting to believe
couplets are for babies.
For Valentine’s Day, you write,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond
on your cards, and the principal
calls you into her office
to ask you if you’re getting enough
to eat at snack time.
Sometimes you forget and run with sestinas.
Next year, you’ll begin first grade
and will be introduced to book contests,
submissions, and rejections.
Now, your poems are returned
with smiley faces, stickers, and stars.
You’re happy in this iambic universe,
this phonic jungle where the alphabet
wraps around the room—
Jack-Jack Kerouac, ă, ă, ă.
You wear your sonnet like a cape
and revise the words that spill
from your backpack—
verbs hang from the monkey bars,
nouns lean against the bike rack,
a villanelle of mockingbirds echo
as the bus comes into view.