I took a wonderful poetry class at the Loft in Minneapolis last spring. One of our exercises was to write a poem with the word “rancor” in the title. Most of my poems are NOT actually about my personal experiences, though people often think they are. But for this assignment, I thought of my childhood, how I hated living in my parents’ house and moved out at 16, and how glad I am that my parents and I have some small common ground to have a decent long-distance relationship now. And I wanted to play around with a few different ways of putting the word rancor into a poem through endings of lines connecting to beginnings of following lines. Here’s the draft I wrote:
Now that we are both adults
we can live without the rancor
or status to give you power
over the books I read,
hiding Flowers for Algernon
in the file cabinet among real estate papers.
Without the limit of 5 hours of TV weekly,
charted on the refrigerator.
As a grown-up
I can rot my brain as much as I want.
Now I send you Benny Hill DVDs.
I wonder, do you chart your own TV hours?
I don’t want the
power nor the unpower.
I don’t want to perch on
one side of a scale, seeing who rises higher
whose worth hangs heavier.
I remember days when your words ran
currents through the house,
wafted up through the a/c vents,
and my sisters and I
lay with our ears pressed to registers,
waiting for cold metal secrets,
then wishing for deafness.
Now, I am content to share
a phone call every few weeks
where our conversation floats like
a small, yellow life-raft on a sea of rancor.
–Laura Purdie Salas, all rights reserved
Just a reminder about Nikki Grimes’ haiku contest on Facebook, too. Check it out here.
And if you’re a fan of lovely rhyming nonfiction (I am), don’t miss my post from earlier this week featuring Heidi B. Roemer’s latest book, Whose Nest Is This?