The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Monday

A Little Poem About the Rain
By John Engman

There is a chance of rain on Minnehaha Avenue.
That's how a poem should start. But they won't pay
for little poems about the rain -- they want "art."
Why didn't you take notes at the poetry workshop?
Don't say you drove the lonely avenues of rain.
Don't say rain whispered harsh words to the moon.
Don't say someone you love has left you nothing
to say but the moon on lonely avenues of rain.
Just put words on paper quickly as the hummingbirds
done by God. Then be happy, you have written a poem.
And maybe you are alone, but it's early, maybe someone
driving through a chance of rain on Minnehaha Avenue
is thinking of you as she sways through a curve, shudders
into the straightaway and pulls over: killing the engine,
closing her eyes, weeping aloud on the soft shoulder.


Another from Poet's Choice in Sunday's The Washington Post Book World. "From his long-time job as an aide in an adolescent psych ward came poems rich in pathos, each tinged with his signature irony," writes Mary Karr of Engman. "In 'Poem With Sedative Effect,' he writes, 'On the hospital unit where I work/a young girl wrote "I love you" on the walls//with excrement.' Offsetting this grim stuff, in 'Aluminum Folding Chairs' Engman mocks his own attempts to run group therapy, which requires 'an aptitude for nodding your head and a strong desire/to scratch your stomach thoughtfully/while someone sitting beside you opens a wound/the size of a gymnasium.' Engman claims he got paid for saying, 'Look within yourself' or 'I know where you're coming from.'"

I have been the entire day at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, where we crammed in six full shows plus pieces of others, did a lot of shopping, ate two meals and several snacks, bought a fancy feathered hair ornament to keep the sun off my skull, watched lots of crafters at work and generally had a great time. Our first stop was the Market Stage, where we watched first the swordfighting skills of Fight School, then Don Juan & Miguel (sadly without Esmerelda this weekend, but still fabulous with the whip). After that, we got some lunch -- I had barbecue chicken and rice, kids had gyro and sausage, Paul had a bread bowl with soup -- and went to Hey Nunnie Nunnie on the Lyric Stage, which was thankfully shaded as it was getting quite warm. We saw a bit of the London Broil show and caught the end of The Amazing Nocheaux's magic act before Macbeth in 20 Minutes by Shakespeare's Skum -- apparently there is a rule that people doing Scottish accents must lapse into playing Scotty from Star Trek, heh.

Then we got root beer floats and went to the joust, where Sir Henry Clifford's mount was acting up a bit -- went charging into the Master of the Lists and his horse -- but the home team (a.k.a. the King's knights, whose cheering section we were in) defeated the challengers anyway. We stopped for water and lemons with peppermint stick straws before going to see Fight School Reloaded, where fighting techniques other than European swords are explored -- the pirate attack, the katana, the bar brawl, the lirpa -- and stayed for Don Juan and Miguel's Weird Show, in which Don Juan whips pickles and hot dogs while Miguel sings and confesses that he's really Polish and from Chicago. Finally, we did some more shopping -- pottery, needlecrafts, wooden swords -- had dinner -- turkey legs, fish & chips, chocolate covered cheesecake -- and came home before we got too tired for an hour-long drive!

Sir Henry Clifford greeting the crowd at the start of one of the jousts.

Henry VIII was too busy with royal duties to attend all of the jousts, so Sir Thomas Howard and Pirate Queen Jean Cabot oversaw this one.

As Miguel holds it, Don Juan whips a clump of uncooked spaghetti into smaller and smaller strands.

The saintly *cough* Mother Redempta and Sister Philomena Claire of Hey Nunnie Nunnie admit that they'd date a human man if only he were more like Jesus.

Macbeth bemoans his completely unfair and undeserved fate in a Shakespeare's Skum production in which "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" segues into "I love you, tomorrow, you're always a day away!"

Fight School's Nymblewyke and Hamish demonstrate at slow speed (as opposed to fight speed) the use of the buckler (so named because it was covered in buckskin) with their swords.

The Amazing Nocheaux put his assistant into this box, tied her into a sack, chained her up, climbed onto the box and drew a curtain up over them both...

...though when it dropped moments later, she was somehow the one standing on the box in his clothes while he was locked inside it in hers.

Have a good labor day and stay safe, everyone in the path of Gustav!

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