Saturday, December 17, 2011

D. G. Smeall and Poetry from Montana Skies

Before I delve into the mysteries of POETRY and its wondrous revelations to my soul, I would like to say thank you to Emma Michaels and all the writers out there who have decided to embrace us Poets as well as other writers.

I began my writing experience as a poet in junior high school.  I enjoyed Creative Writing but found myself unable to complete sentences on occasion.  That was when an instructor suggested I might like to dabble in poetry.  So I gave it a shot, it worked for me and took me on a journey that I am still on.  My passion for the written word began to blossom into full sentences, eventually to short stories and now I am working towards the novel and children’s books genres.

My writing has evolved me as a person.  I was just 13 when I began writing seriously and i was an awkward teen (aren’t we all?); but my teenage years were complicated by
my disability and need to improve communications skills along with social skills. What disability you might ask?  I am deaf and visually impaired, due to a congenital birth defect, but I don’t let it stop me from doing what I want to do in life: WRITE.

So over the years, (I am in my 50’s now), I have sought avenues for expanding those communications skills.  Writing seemed a natural venue for me.  It lets me speak to people without expectations on either side.  How I come up with my topics for my poems,  it is just anything and everything about life that touches me.  My soul cries to express what it feels inside of me.

There are poems about life, nature, family, our five senses, disabilities revealed for any human to grasp (“step inside my parlor, said the spider”, I thought to myself) and just about any topic is what I write about. For today, I thought I’d share one of my favorite poems: Montana Skies, which I wrote in 2008, about a small piece of my childhood, incidentally one of my brightest times in my childhood.  So enjoy and thanks for giving me the opportunity to share about my work.  See you in the trenches of writing!

Montana Skies (copyrighted 2008) by D.G. Smeall

In the early morn, the cow moos plaintively,
“Come milk me.”
I stretch my arms overhead, reach for the light
Above my bed.

I am ready to seek out my chores
Yet I hesitate.

Ma makes the morning jangle of burner plates
Shifting to relight the old stove’s fire,
I sit up, draw on the cowgirl boots
Pa bought me last year.

I tug on my shirt, red plaid,
Old flannel faded and worn,
Oversized a man’s once,
It houses pockets all over and on
Its back.

I shuffle out the back door,
On to Old Betsy in the barn,
Mooing her morning greeting

I shift the stool to beside her,
Pump her milk inside the steel pails alternately,
Squish, squirt, squish, squirt
The beat goes on until the brim of both pails is full.

I stand, setting both pails at the back wall,
Lest Betsy knock them all,

The purple majesties of the Montana morning
Peek through the barn’s door,
Warning that sun is coming soon.

I hasten as there is more to be done.
I pick up my feet and run . . .

“Ma, I need to get the henhouse done.”
I holler in the back door to her,
Out she comes, bearing the bat,
In her daily chase with Prat,
The barnyard rooster, bantam
That he is.

They twirl and whirl in ballet form,
Teasing and taunting,
Ma swinging and Prat racing ahead --

I slip in the henhouse of ten,
Lovely hens aroosting on their nests,
Warm eggs await my touch and take.

“Caw, caw,” they say when the egg
I take away.

I cautiously pack them in my pail, enwrapped
In cotton wads for careful carrying
To the bunkhouse kitchen.

There Ma is finishing the huge stack of pancakes, biscuits, and eggs for all
To partake.

I set the eggs on the sideboard, wash my hands and join the guys
At the picnic table set in the midst of our company of hired hands.

Time is racing by, the clock ticks the hour of six.
Soon the sounds of sheep calling will greet us all,
So we race through the meal in record speed.

Ma taps my shoulder, “It is time.”
I put my plaid coat back on.
Old brown beer bottles with cutoff rubber gloves
Serving as nipples, warm
With cow’s milk to fill an orphan
Lamb’s belly.

There are 10 bottles, 5 on front and 5 on back.
I stand and shift from foot to foot as
Ma loads the bottles in their nooks,
“Go now,”

They call, the lambs, for their ma --
Their moms no longer answer,
They’ve been orphaned and adopted in a night.

I am their mother now.
I sit in the front braceyard,
Indian style,
‘Baa, Baa, Baa” I call,
“Come to me, babies, I have your food.”

They reply, running in leaps of joy and jaunty jerks
To snap onto one of the nipples in my shirt.

They suckle till the bottle fails
To give no more.

Now it is time for one more run-through.
Another 10 and 4 to feed
Before the school bus comes.

Ah but there are 25 lambs and where
Did the fifth of the second born go?

I hunt him down,
Wet fluff, smelly and dank,
He looks like a skanky pig,
Tis my last lambie.

Hangy down ears,
They flop and flap
When he runs,
He is so small and
Runt he was called by
The Hired hands.

“Won’t last,” they said.
He did outlast most of them all.
Gave me joy and laughter for three summers.

Underneath the Montana skies,
Pearly shades, wanton skies,
With heavy rains, thunderstorms,
A warning is born.

Tis yet another season
More orphans yet to
This year and another.
Soon time has come
Another hangy down-eared one
Must his place take.

Yet this winter I won’t be there
In my red plaid shirt,
Ma and Pa have split ways
And the city streets will
Hold sway.

Life in the city is not at much all
Like Montana skies, proclaiming its
Glories to all.

I miss them all, the sheep, the lambs, the musty pigs,
The dirty hired hands, the wool bags stuffed,
The feathery hens snobbishly greeting,
And Prat who preened in the henhouse yard.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool guest post. I was majorly into writing poetry in school and loved that the focus was on the language itself. That probably explains why books like Lolita and Shadow of the Wind are some of my favorites just because, while the story is great, the language of the book itself is hauntingly beautiful and reads like a lyric poem.