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Poems in My Pocket

So here we are in the merry month of May, no longer National Poetry Month. Am I sad? Not at all. I adore May and especially this May, which has favored us with gorgeous day after gorgeous morning, again and again. My cup overflows.

And this morning, writing, with tea at my elbow, windows open to the cool air, I marveled at the enormity of green out my windows, the leaves bouncing and bobbing all around, looking so jolly, so free though somehow not free, but rather, attached within their community of others, and it gave me such a feeling of wellbeing, though I’ve been sick.

And I thought about what to write, fully expecting it to be some sort of concluding report, an official accounting of the Poetry Share, since April is now behind us. But I am far from finished handing out poems, because of the joy. So I will likely be carrying poems around in my pockets for a long time to come. Look out!

Here’s a thing. I went to Old Navy yesterday to see about some shorts and I found a pair, black linen with a comfy elastic waist (just to prove that, yes, I really am an old lady), but most importantly with FOUR big serviceable pockets, the better to carry poems in. Yes. That becomes a box to tick off now. Pockets for the poems. I gave poems to three of the salesgirls there. And one to a gal on her knees on the concrete floor of the Salvation Army, sorting through donations. Big smiles of wonderment and lights in their eyes again and again at the question, “Would you like a poem?” Oh sure, maybe they think I’m crazy, but I don’t think so. I think it’s more of who can resist the offer of a poem? Only one person, so far, and I feel pretty sure he has lain awake at night with regret over that. What have I done? that hapless man at the Post Office is asking himself. Who in their right mind refuses the offer of a poem?

I gave to the nurse at Quick Care and the young woman at the pharmacy counter, the checker at HyVee. A woman humming past me on a walk. Bank tellers. A young guy called Zamboni, running through the park. Three ladies at the thrift store. People gathering signatures on petitions. The egg and bread sellers at the Farmer’s Market. The dear postman whose name I now know is Sean, is Irish, and his brother and sister were almost named Seamus and Siobhan. All of this I know because of the Seamus Heaney poem. La!

Just about anyone who doesn’t look dangerous has been offered a poem.

In case you want more recommendations, here are a few of the ones I’ve handed out since the last update. Rumi’s “The Guest House;” Mary Oliver’s “Peonies;” Billy Collins’ “Aimless Love;” Reed Whittemore’s “The Party;” Lewis Carroll’s “The Jabberwocky;” Tony Hoagland’s “The Word;” e.e. cummings’ “[anyone lived in a pretty how town].” And more. I forget. I’ve been sick, so I’m a little bit fuzzy-headed. But really, I can’t be expected to do all the poetry, can I? Your favorites are bound to be different from mine. Go on a poetry safari. Find the ones that speak to your heart. And then spread the love. And then you, too, can call out to others that you’re “on top of the world!” as you walk jauntily by.

It’s just another way to enjoy life. There are so many. This is just one more to keep in your back pocket.

“Then you have to remember to be thankful; but in May one simply can’t help being thankful . . . that they are alive, if for nothing else. I feel exactly as Eve must have felt in the garden of Eden before the trouble began.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

“As full of spirit as the month of May, and as gorgeous as the sun in Midsummer.”― William Shakespeare

“Everything you invent is true: you can be sure of that. Poetry is a subject as precise as geometry.” — Julian Barnes

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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