Is that a banana in your pocket?

26 Apr

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. You’re supposed to carry a poem in your pocket and share it with friends, co-workers, strangers, etc. I’m all for making the world a little more poetic, so I plan to participate.

While I have a few poems that are definite favorites, given my twisted sense of humor, I thought it would be hilarious to have a poem on hand that is guaranteed to result in an awkward exchange.

I picture someone stopping me at the water cooler to share a verse by Emily Dickinson… then I’d whip out this one in response:

To Speak of Woe That Is In Marriage

by Robert Lowell
The hot night makes us keep our bedroom windows open.
Our magnolia blossoms. Life begins to happen.
My hopped up husband drops his home disputes,
and hits the streets to cruise for prostitutes,
free-lancing out along the razor’s edge.
This screwball might kill his wife, then take the pledge.
Oh the monotonous meanness of his lust. . .
It’s the injustice . . . he is so unjust—
whiskey-blind, swaggering home at five.
My only thought is how to keep alive.
What makes him tick? Each night now I tie
ten dollars and his car key to my thigh. . . .
Gored by the climacteric of his want,
he stalls above me like an elephant.”

AWKWARD. Even better if the person I’m reading it to is married.

Or making a production of unfolding a large piece of paper, only to quote Shel Silverstein’s two sentence poem, Plunger, which has been lodged in my head since second grade:

Teddy said it was a hat, so I put it on. Now Dad is saying where the heck’s the toilet plunger gone? 

What verse will YOU carry with you today? Any favorites you’ll share?

In full seriousness, here is mine:

so you want to be a writer? 
by Charles Bukowski

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.


14 Responses to “Is that a banana in your pocket?”

  1. Alicia April 26, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    Looking for a poem to put in my pocket.

  2. bonnie April 26, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    Has Alan read that last one?

  3. thesinglecell April 26, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    See, this is the kind of thing I would turn into a parody in minutes. For example, with no disrespect to poets, I would probably not keep one of their works in my pocket. Rather, I would likely cart around the lyrics to “John Jacob Jingleheimerschmidt” or “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am.” And then read them dramatically. Possibly with interpretive dancers.

    • pithypants April 27, 2012 at 7:30 am #

      Very mature, SingleCell. Very mature.

  4. Tin Roof Press April 26, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    I’d probably choose something by ogden nash. quick with a punchline

    • pithypants April 27, 2012 at 7:29 am #

      Yes! To wit, this one by him:

      A Word to Husbands

      To keep your marriage brimming
      With love in the loving cup,
      Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
      Whenever you’re right, shut up.

  5. Jodie April 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    The first poem maybe awkward but I might be fun to watch your listeners squirm when you read it. 🙂 #justsaying.

    • pithypants May 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

      That’s what I go for: squirminess.

  6. hollybernabe May 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    I moved this weekend. I’m in pain. I wrote this poem the last time I moved a few years ago, but it is still very relevant. Though, in retrospect, I think I would rather have a hot tub right now than caffeine or tiger balm….

    Moving Pains

    Stress and strain, pulled muscles-
    magma flows through my nerves.
    Dropped boxes, cracked knuckles-
    I’m a brown and purple Dalmation of bruises.
    All night, last minute frenzied preparation-
    a disco mirror ball of fatigue pulses through my head.
    Caffeine and tiger balm are salvation.

    • pithypants May 3, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

      Unfortunately, Holly, as you may have noticed: A hot tub doesn’t fit in your pocket like Tiger Balm.

      • hollybernabe May 4, 2012 at 12:38 am #

        Oh, but I wish it would. Some sort of George Jetson-like contraption would be wonderful right about now. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: