Friday, February 1, 2013

The Story Behind the Poem

Here's the story behind my poem that took third place in the Reader's Choice Awards from Northern Liberties Review:

It started out with an idea, a memory really, of a time when I painted signs at the rodeo grounds in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.  One day I was painting the biggest sign on the grandstand.  I had to stand on the chutes in order to reach it.  It was a really hot summer day and I was pregnant with my fourth child.  I was enjoying the quiet, it was afternoon. 

Apparently no one realized I was there, because suddenly someone let a group of horses into the arena!  They came barreling through the chutes I was straddling!  I was holding a can of paint in one hand and a brush in the other.  I was scared; scared of losing my balance, scared of dropping my paint or brush into the fray and having a horse rear up under me, scared of getting trampled to death, etc.  All I could do was stand there, one foot on each side of the chute, trying to stay balanced against the vibrating metal and thundering hooves. 

Inspiration did not come at that point, just perspiration!  But looking back on that moment, what an image it created in my mind.  One that came alive with words and eventually ended up as a poem.  Think about events in your life that are vivid images.  Write them down and see where they take you.

Painting Signs at the Rodeo

Straddling chutes, wild horses run between my legs 
Spotted ponies, wet with acrylic  
Hiding in a plum thicket, a wild bull snorts at the edge 
No clown claims him
Pheasants flap wildly over my head 
While thick-set men in suits watch
Alligator-skin boots impatiently pace 
Ready to take ringed-necks to sporting deaths.

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