I used to long for rain: blue skies
in childhood arraigned me like a
disapproving judge: they sentenced me
to obligations I could not fulfill.
Invariably, they made me ill.
Suburbia's idea of play was onerous:
the promised feast of Little League and
summer days pursuing, hitting, catching,
throwing (mostly missing, dropping) balls
provoked excruciating silent screams in me.
These ploys to make me bond with other boys
stoked terror: meant to help me mesh
into the world, they were instead what
Dr Johnson called a "scheme of merriment."
The trembling kid I was at bat
knew there was nothing deadlier than that.
Whatever seed wants burgeoning.
whatever bud craves blooming,
whatever garden wants to burst,
it has its own peculiar hunger, thirst
for rare specific nourishment and care.
The child in whom they breed must dare
to find and ferret out himself, to fertilize
the gradual opening of his eyes.
My food was crayons, paper, drawing
naked bodies, musing I was Disney's
"Sleeping Beauty", burying my mother's
jewelry in the farthest reaches of the yard,
and sometimes stealing candy from the Five
& Ten. Misbehaving on the sly was somehow
how I managed to survive: it made me think
the world was one big secret prize.
This I surmise that somehow, over time,
I found my own attachments to the sun.
How strange today—so easily!—to say
that I no longer dread a cloudless day.
This poem won the 2004 Margaret
Reid Poetry Contest sponsored by Tom Howard Books. Author Guy Kettelhack received a $500 award. Winning Writers assists this contest. Copyright is reserved to the author.
About Guy Kettelhack
Guy Kettelhack is the author or co-author of more than 30 nonfiction books. His poetry has been featured in Outstretch, Van Gogh's Ear, Melic Review, New Pleiades, Triplopia (in whose July 2004 "laughter contest" his poem "Log On" won first prize), David Taub e-motion ("Harp
Strings" was selected to be read as their monthly selection for August 2004), Poetry Life & Times (where he has been a featured poet in both June and August 2004), and Poetry in Emotion (Fall 2004). Two of his poems placed in IBPC competitions in 2004. His poem "Alter Ego" was selected as a quarterfinalist in the Lyric Recovery Festival competition in March 2004. He lives in New York City.
Guy submitted a large number of poems that qualified for the Prize, which seeks poems in traditional verse forms. Some were strictly traditional, others used a more flexible format. "Weather Report" is one of the latter. It should be noted that the judge's interpretation of "traditional" is loose rather than strict.