Friday, April 11, 2014

Our Wonderful World.11

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.


Stand Up Straight

Okay, Mom.
I get it now.
All those
were your way
of saying,
"Be proud!"
"Be confident!"
"Be yourself!"

I wish
I had listened.
I'd like to
go back
and tell my
teen self
those very same

And now,
as I watch
you bend
and shrink
with age,
my own
"Stand up straight!"s
take on
new urgency,
as does
my own reminder to
"Listen to your mother"
so I can soak up
every story.
every bit of wisdom
before it's too late.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

What a week. More than once, I've grumbled, "Who thought up this crazy Wonders of the World poem-a-day challenge?" 

Oh, yeah. I did. 

One of the things I've done to keep myself sane (and keep the poems coming) is to not write exactly about the wonder itself. 

For instance, when we visited the Great Wall of China, my poem was about dancing at a wedding reception. For the octagonal Porcelain Tower of Nanjing (aka: The Temple of Gratitude), I wrote The Eight Gratitudes. The Hagia Sophia inspired a haiku, The Leaning Tower of Pisa, A Note From the Architect, and the Channel Tunnel, a light at the end of any tunnel through which you might be toiling.

I am enjoying the company of Carol, at Carol's Corner, and Kevin, at Kevin's Meandering Mind. It would be awfully lonely without them, because between the day job and the daily poem, there isn't much time left over to go visiting all the other Poetry Month projects.

I'll make time tomorrow to make an exception. First I'll add a line to the Progressive Poem, then I'll read around the roundup and get a taste of all the poetic goodies.

Today Carol shares an arun about the Channel Tunnel from yesterday's wonder.
Kevin added humor to his poem for the CN Tower by making a webcomic.

Michelle has the roundup at Today's Little Ditty. Be sure to wish her a happy blog birthday -- her little ditty turned ONE this week!


  1. No lonely poets allowed!
    Today, I went the webcomic route

  2. I like that your poem took a turn about something other than CN Tower. Very profound.

  3. Anonymous10:21 AM

    Happy Friday!

    Lovely poem. Thanks for sharing.

    Have you heard the song Little Me by Little Mix?

  4. I've enjoyed that you're making other connections to the wonders, too, Mary Lee. Creative and personal! This has such a good voice.

  5. This is bittersweet, Mary Lee, as my mom is going through such health challenges right now. When I use an image or a thing for inspiration, sometimes I like to write about it, and other times I just like to see how it connects to the rest of my life, as you did here. Lovely!

  6. I absolutely love the way you're using the Wonders of the World as inspiration. When I saw the title I wondered if someone was talking directly to the building.

  7. Love the way you used the shape of the CN Tower to inspire this poem--and such melancholy in your poem. (I'm sure in your mom's eyes you are standing tall.)

  8. Such a poignant reflection on the way things are, Mary Lee. You did a beautiful job both in content and structure here, with a topic that many of us can relate to.

  9. I like this poem very much, Mary Lee. I know exactly what you mean. Wishing I had the stories down before my dad was gone and wishing I had the time to get my mother's in writing.

  10. Love the intersection of the CN Tower and your mother's advice! "Listen to your mother" is advice that all of us need to heed - young and old. Thanks for the terrific poem today, Mary Lee! = )

  11. Every day I am totally surprised at the directions your poems take. This one is beautiful. And poignant. And heartbreaking…


    Why would I choose to walk
    1,168 feet above the ground
    way up there
    way out there
    at the CN Tower?

    I already walk the edge.

    I walk the edge
    every time
    I walk into a barbershop
    with my two little
    nappy haired guys.
    Conversations stop
    as every person in the shop
    looks at me.
    And I feel so white.

    I walk the edge
    every time
    I walk through a mall
    with my African American princes.
    Security guards
    follow the boys
    all the way
    down the mall.
    And I feel so white.

    I walk the edge
    Every time I climb the bleachers
    at my son's basketball games.
    Nine black boys
    with their families.
    And me with my sons.
    They call me "Miss Carol"
    for the first five years.
    And I feel so white.

    I walk the edge
    when I try to explain
    to my fifteen-year-old
    why he got a $68 ticket
    for riding his bike through a stop sign
    in our quiet urban neighborhood
    on the way too football practice.
    "Kids do it all the time," he says.
    I know he is right.
    And I feel so white.

    I walk the edge
    when I explain to my boys
    how they should behave
    if they are stopped by the police.
    Or if they are in the presence
    of young and beautiful white women.
    Act like a gentleman.
    Don't give anyone reason to doubt your intentions.
    Leave if there are any problems.
    Or if you hear anything about guns.
    I know the conversations would be different
    if my boys looked different.
    And I feel so white.

    Why would I choose to walk
    1,168 feet above the ground
    way up there
    way out there
    at the CN Tower?

    I already walk the edge every day.

    (c) Carol Wilcox, 2014

    1. Carol... your poems are making me cry. In a good way - beautifully put -- but oh, so sad of a reality.

      ...keep writing!!!

  12. loved the place the CN Tower took you, Mary Lee! I wish we had the stories written down. Already my brothers and I disagree over certain details of certain stories.

  13. I love today's poem, Mary Lee. I'm glad that you have been able to "keep the poems coming"!

  14. Anonymous7:00 AM

    An amazing poem, Mary Lee! I'm sure we all would like to tell our teenage selves a thing or two. I love the final lines " I can soak up/every story./every bit of wisdom/before it's too late." The thought of there being no one left to ask brings me to tears.

  15. I love how you let the 'wonders' bring other things to mind. That is a good hint when working with any prompt, I think. Your poem, besides being beautiful and a little sad, makes a tall and skinny shape on the page. Nice!

    Violet N.

  16. I love everything about this poem: from the form, the structure, the content, the beautiful message. It's always great to challenge one's self. :) So invigorating, despite the exhaustion.


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