Poetry’s Bouquet

Often I have to remind myself there are many kinds of poets. When a poem dazzles me, it’s easy to throw shade on my own work, to feel drab next to their shine.

Dylan Thomas is one of my favorite poets, if not my absolute favorite. That said, I doubt I’ve understood two of his poems. Despite that, I love the density of his language and startling imagery. I feel inspired every time I read his work because it is something beautiful and out of reach that keeps me reaching further.

That said, I’ve been equally impacted by poets like Robert Frost or Philip Larkin. While their poems tend to be more accessible, they are full of their own beauty and feeling. If everyone were a Thomas, no one would be a Larkin, and the world would be poorer for it.

When I think of poems I’ve finished and thought, “That was just what I want a poem to be,” I realize how different they all are. Modern verse; sonnets; mundane images; bizarre scenes; meaningful; absurd…all these have a place in poetry’s bouquet. At the end of the day, I’m grateful for this garden of variety. And this makes it easier for me to see that my own blooms have a place, adding their own color and fragrance.

Below is a poem from my first book of poems, The Wind and the Shadows. This poem describes another kind of flower garden and explores the tension of differences and liberty.

Happy Birthday, USA

On the Fourth of July
my daughter and I
drive across town,
park on a hill,
and watch this year’s 
fireworks display.

It starts off, literally,
with a bang:
A white-hot stem
snakes up into the clouds
like Jack’s beanstalk,
then bursts in a bright-blue bloom.

Purple plumes,
white cascading bells,
orange POP! POP! Poppies,
and other varieties
flower in fire
as a pyrotechnic garden
before our very eyes.

On the other side
of the street,
a drunken round of “Happy Birthday”
as some people raise beer cans
to America.

For a moment,
a red rocket bursting in the air
glares with me.

But then I join in the song,
adding a high harmony
to their melody.

Sweet land of liberty…

of thee
I sing.

Published by mrteague

Teague McKamey lives in Washington state with his wife and two children. Teague’s poetry has appeared in several journals and in self-published books. He blogs at thevoiceofone.org and awanderingminstrel.com. In all areas of life, Teague desires that Christ may be magnified in his body (Php. 1:20).

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