December 10, 2017

Three Poems by Nan Friedley: "Back to School," "Postcard...," and "The Fair"

Nan Friedley is a retired special education teacher and graduate of Ball State
University. She was born in Huntington, IN, but spent most of her formative years in the Fort Wayne area. She graduated from New Haven High School. Her writing has been published in a poetry chapbook, Short Bus Ride, and in Indiana Voice Journal, Inlandia Anthologies, and Three, a nonfiction anthology collection. She published a poetry collection related to teaching special education kids called "Short Bus Ride" by BadKneePress. Nan lives in Riverside, CA.

Back To School
(wannabe a sestina)

August 1, 8:30 PM
Sipping merlot
prepping for the first day
printing cubby name tags for students
homework for teachers
of first grade
2029 is their graduation year.

August 2, 10:00 AM
Recharged, stocking up on supplies for the year
a stop by Cosco for a box of merlot
cheap alcoholic fuel, low grade
checking off items on my to-do list this Tuesday
a trip to Lakeshore, mega-store for teachers
buying pencil boxes for students.

August 5, 9:00 AM
Class list in my mailbox, 25 students
class-size reduction effective this year
already a line at the Xerox machine, teachers
planning Happy Hour for a glass of merlot
end of summer's "staycation", need one more day
because in five more it's an uphill grade.

August 8, 8:30 AM
Coffee and donuts donated by grade
five, cars driving by packed with curious students
meetings, a bite of the common core on prep day
unless they've created something new this year
it's only 10:00 AM, I could use an IV of merlot.
Anxiety is etched on the faces of new teachers.

August 9, 7:30 AM
Parking lot is full; secretaries, parents, teachers
on this morning's schedule, review new online grade
card, followed by lunch with merlot
just kidding, surprise visit from past students
so many, it's my 30th year.
I'll be here till dark getting ready for the first day.

August 10, 8:07 AM
Eager faces excited for the big day
line up to meet their teachers
new clothes, new backpacks, new year.
"I like Kindergarten better than first grade".
"We don't go home after lunch?" students
whine as I yearn for a taste of merlot.

August 10, 8:30 PM
Guzzling my merlot, assessing the first day
glancing at student journals, "I love my tchr".
"I love frist grad". I love the beginning of the year.

Postcard to Sharon who sent me a postcard of the
eleven lighthouses of Michigan

The Old Point Loma lighthouse guided ships
through the thick marine layer of clouds
to the windy finger of land separating the Pacific
and San Diego Bay. The fog was so heavy that the
lighthouse keeper Captain Israel fired his shotgun to warn ships
of the treacherous rocks. Many say his ghost still haunts
the beaconed building. Some have heard his heavy footsteps
in the kitchen, others a moaning breath in the bedroom.
I'm wearing goosebumps from a wisp of cold air I felt on the spiral
staircase, a dedicated lighthouse keeper just passing by.

The Fair

raised on fried chicken, pan gravy
homemade butter
wilted lettuce, garden beans
henhouse fresh eggs

guided a harvester in soybean fields
between rows
tall enough to see
over the wooden steering wheel

he picked a calf
from his 12th spring herd
tan and white spotted
curious brown eyes

fed it
brushed it
slept with it
in a bed of itchy straw
a pet he learned to love

hot july day
4-H fair entry #237
past judges
looking at steers
veal on the hoof

blue-ribbons announced
then reds
sold at market value
bound for Chicago

i didn't know
i'll give back the ribbon
let me keep it

Nan Friedley

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