Thursday, March 13, 2014

Praise Poem

I'm taking a songwriting class, and we were given a prompt this week for a praise poem. It's a pattern that comes from an African "coming-of-age" tradition. I enjoyed the exercise, and loved what some others offered. Thought I'd share my bit here. It's called Fiddle Songs.

Fiddle songs echo somewhere in the distant past,
and maybe the Harrigans brought one from the old sod
or the Ensigns had a fiddle on the boat from the Highlands …
or was it the Lowlands.
Some Scotland or another in any case is where my roots sink
but so deeply in the past that, like most Americans, I am rootless now
roaming the countryside like a poor lost mongrel.
I am not a single animal, though. Emerson contained multiples,
and if it was good enough for Ralph, well then …
In the morning, when the sun forms a warm circle, I am a cat stretched and lazy.
By mid-afternoon, I may morph into a goofy Irish Setter chasing that cat away.
I’d like to be a wise, old owl, but mostly I’m just old now, and enjoy hooting.
My mother probably knew best, all those years ago, when she called me “silly ol’ bear.”
I am mostly a Teddy Bear.
Stuffed with cotton batting, especially just now with a headcold.
But that head is hard as any old oak, just ask my family.
We are a long line of stubborn, disputatious Scots-Irish hard heads.
I hope the heart, though, is made of something softer.
Perhaps like Bobbie Burns’ red, red rose.
Truth be told, though, this heart may be a thistle,
kept in prickly safeness … or brokenness
in this frame as tall as the grave
I keep outrunning as I dance across the earth

To that ancient fiddle tune.

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