Although I didn’t get to officially meet or work with him at the Getaway last weekend, I was introduced to the work of Kenneth Hart and his book Uh-Oh Time. I would have bought it just for the title, I think, but the first poem I happened to open to was the one I will share below. After a summer of running the dogs through the forest preserves, we had many of these “little Hindenburgs” in our house. I love that the poem is, in a way, an ode to something we consider repulsive and yet turns to something larger at the end.
holding on at the teeth,
its purplish gray body ballooned
to pea-size with dog’s blood.
Wobbly, wartish, flopping, tied
to the skin under black fur,
set to pop if squeezed or yanked wrong:
you part the hair, must pinch the flesh,
lightly, raise it like a rug’s wrinkle,
then pluck with the other finger and thumb.
Slow, beery, drunk on pumped syrup
from the heart of an animal
who seems all heart, now it can rest in your palm –
don’t be afraid; it slowly kicks
its tiny feet as a fat infant
stoned on mother’s milk. It rolls
on the deeply creased tide of your life line
which a shawled reader once told you was long,
and next to that, the heart line, which,
shaking her head curiously in the candle glow, she said,
though also deep, leads away from your head.
Let the little blimp rest there
in the palm’s pink cradle a moment longer
before you flush it – its elastic skin
the color of an ostrich neck; let it not be
anger’s target, fear’s symbol – woozy
on the blood that loves you.
If you want to read more:
Kenneth Hart’s Website
If you want to write:
1. Try writing a poem that observes, without judgment and perhaps with a little affection, something that normally repels you.
2. Use that wonderful-sounding last line as a jumping off point – “woozy on the blood that loves you.” What else besides “blood” could you put in the phrase to make it your own?