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Thirteen Ways of Looking at Shrubbery

March 5, 2008

I
Taking up space
In the blue,
Shrubbery is a
Waste.

II
Green, ever-green, ugly-green shrubbery
Next to true-blue living-green deciduous trees.

III
hush . . .shush . . .
Shrubbery bush.
Silent covering to my bruised blue secrets.
crush . . . rush . . .
Shrubbery bush.

IV
The gardener grooms the shrubbery furtively.
Clipped, snipped,
Formal it stands.

V
Poisonous berries of blue
Populate shrubberies,
Tantalizing the starved souls
And luring the unwary.

VI
The shrubbery maze pulls and tugs
And pushes you and your resisting
Into an entrancing blue ocean.

VII
My shrubbery is stunted growth,
Dwarfed by your majestic chivalry,
Trivialized by nice manners.

This is only the first seven ways of looking at shrubbery. Maybe I’ll post the rest later, if they’re any good. I wrote this poem for my poetry class. We read Wallace Steven’s Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird to talk about tone, perspective, and imagery, and got the assignment to write one of our own. We voted on words we had to write a poem about and ended up with shrubbery, out of a selection of such random words as ukulele, sperm whale, parking lot, coconut, and hula hoops (there is a kind of Hawaiian theme there, isn’t there? I wonder how that happened). We also had to include the word blue in it somehow. This is what I came up with, or half of it anyway.

My poetry teacher, by the way, is completely insane (well, he would be. He is a poet). I could sit in my poetry class all day, it’s so entertaining. The first twenty minutes of every class are spent listening to his ramblings on his personal life or any random topic at all. He has the best stories! Is there something about being a poet that makes these kinds of things happen to you? Or do poets actively seek them out? I don’t  know, but it sure does keep me entertained, and it gives me a little inspiration to live life more fully. I have experienced so little compared to him, and he is only 10 years older than me. For example, he was telling us about when he was in Ukraine (I really think he has been everywhere!) staying with this couple who had a goat named Marta. One day Marta had a baby, a totally cute little baby goat. When he came back that night the kitchen was covered in blood and the woman was standing there with an axe in hand. He asked what was for dinner, and they said, “the baby.” They ate it the very day it was born! What a sad existence. And there was another time when he was in New York and he saw a person in a Care Bear costume in Central Park! I don’t know about you, but these kind of things just don’t happen to me. It must be because I live in Boise. . .

But I really feel I am learning a lot from this teacher, and not just about poetry. I come away from his class each day full of amazing random facts as well as pertinent knowledge and just an overall better sense of how to live life. Like, did you know that there is a TV show in the United Arab Emirates called Million’s Poet that is a like American Idol but with poetry? And it has 70 million viewers in the Middle East! Isn’t that wonderful? And that’s the kind of great stuff I get to hear about every time I go to poetry class.

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