Monday, June 3, 2019

Memories awakened: My only poem

I love words, but poet I am not. I did, however, venture into verse years ago. The result was selected for my high school’s annual “literary” publication, The Purple and Gold, named after the school colors.

Hubby found that 1965 publication as we continued to cull mementoes from before and during our almost 52 years of marriage.

It released vivid memories of that poetry-writing experience. My senior English teacher Mrs. Aultman had tasked our class with a creative writing assignment. Essay, short story, poem, TV script, whatever we chose to do.

Prose was my choice, and multiple false starts left me long past bedtime with nothing to hand in the next day. And there were assignments from other classes still unfinished as well.

I don’t recall that I had procrastinated . . . in this instance. It was senior year and filled with activities related to school work, co-editing the high school newspaper, social festivities, graduation.

Procrastination was my typical strategy, though, and this challenge was probably no exception. I was filled with the angst of a teenaged, despairing, procrastinating, self-centered me, internally moaning that I was too busy living to enjoy life.

“That’s it! That’s what I’ll write about.” My next thought was “poem.” A poem could be short, extremely short. In no time I had nine lines that expressed exactly what I felt.

I worked on it until my fledgling sense of words and rhythm was satisfied. Then on to other assignments that now no longer seemed so daunting.

Here’s that poem:

A Plea
By Linda Carpenter

There escapes warm happiness.
Off flies electric love of life,
Just in reach of one goal longed for
When hosts behind it come in view,
Demanding, screaming, commanding me.

What hope! I cry. Will it ever end?
Then on I rush four steps behind
Where I should have been,
Too busy living to enjoy life.

The next day I turned it in and forgot about it. The oddest thing about that whole experience was that sometime later Mrs. Aultman approached me in a stairwell. Students and teachers were already in the classrooms. I was headed to various classrooms to deliver messages from principal and counselors, part of my duties as that class period’s “office girl.”

Her manner seemed almost furtive. She asked me if I had written that poem or if perhaps I had seen it somewhere. I was stunned.

What had I done to make her even consider such a thing? But did I voice that question? I meekly assured her that it was my own work. I didn’t tell her that I never read poetry unless it was assigned. I didn’t tell her about how I came to write that poem, and she didn’t ask.

She said “The Plea” had been selected for the “Purple and Gold.” I nodded, still bereft of speech. She strode away. I never asked her why she had to ask, but I often wondered.

Since that passion-inspired brush with poetry, there has been no other poetic outpouring. I don’t count the goofy limericks  occasionally fired off to relatives and friends through the years.

Prose remains my avenue to writing satisfaction and to reading pleasure and enrichment. Thankfully, my teenaged plea no longer applies.

I treasure that little poem, though, as part of a season of my life. But these days I am blessed to be busy enjoying life with contentment. I do still deserve the procrastinator label, but not as often as in earlier years.



  1. I am impressed, I write a few rhymes but have never written a poem. the only poems I read were the ones high school forced me to read. yours is really good to me and deserved to be in the book.. if I had written one when I was in high school it would have been the total opposite of yours. my last 4 years of high school were miserable.

  2. What a find, a true gem!! She asked you that question because it was so good that they must have thought it to be written by a real professional poet. A well deserved award! So wonderful, you really ARE a poet. Now I would like to read some of those goofy limericks...

  3. I am impressed and evidently the teacher was also. I could write prose for days but have never completed one line of poetry.