Wednesday, February 13, 2008

An Ode to Bad Poetry

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, so therefore men the world over are scrambling trying to think of something to give their loved one so that they aren't perceived as forgetful, cheap, neurotic, selfish, or just plain stupid. For me, gift-giving holidays completely freak me out. My wife gets so exasperated that I have the most difficult time thinking of meaningful gifts to give. She'll often tell me that just being together is good enough, but I know better; she really wants to be swept off her feet by her romantically-challenged husband. To this end, I occasionally try my hand at poetry -- what could be more romantic than that?

When I was a teenager, I used to write poetry all the time. I believe that the poetry that came from my pen was and is still quite good. What I have discovered, however, is that now that I am in a healthy and happy relationship with my wife, the words just don't fall together like they used to. Perhaps it is because my teenage angst, driven by hormones and loneliness, provided certain stimulants to the creative parts of my brain. I'm not really sure.

Nevertheless, I still try. Last year, for example, my wife and I celebrated our ninth anniversary (we are quickly approaching our tenth!). At that time, we concluded we should try to save a bit of money and instead just do creative gifts to each other. From this effort came the following poem, displayed here in all it's agonizing awkwardness:


Two-thousand nine-hundred and twenty-two:
The number of days since I married you.
And during that time so much has gone on,
That I wish I could share it in a memorable song.
But since I can't sing, or carry a tune,
I'll do my best now to write this for you.

We've seen really poor times when we lived check-to-check.
We've seen really sick times with some pains in your neck.
Let me remind you of the one-room apartment
when your tonsils poisoned your body and throat.
Memorable days and, yet, just the beginning
As we started a family and, yes, started living!

Our children came, each one with a shout,
And let's not forget the one that fell out!
We're probably not done (so we hope anyway)
As we watch them, with wonder, grow more every day.
Each child is a marvel, with beautiful blue eyes,
That always remind me of clear summer skies.

When you met me, you were soon to find out
That I was the one who would take you about
From place to place and from state to state.
Even now we plan to broaden our plate
And travel to places and see things afar
And make some new memories to hang on our wall.

I remember in London the beautiful days
Where we saw so much, even a play!
We've stood within chapels and gazed upon castles
And at the top of St. Paul's we saw tens of cathedrals.
From the British Museum to Piccadilly Square
To Westminster Abbey, the tubes took us there.

And far from there, on the California coast,
We've gazed at the oceans and spent the most
Time that we could on the beach watching waves
As the sunset glistened down at the end of the day.
Drives up PCH, with the fog and twisted roads,
Betrayed flying kites and beautiful sail boats.

We've seen canyons, and mountains, small streams, flowing rivers.
We've seen farmland and ranches and buildings and bridges.
We've been frozen, so cold, that together we huddled.
We've been so hot sometimes that we wished we were naked.
We have flown, we have swam, we have run, we have crawled,
And best of all were the days that together we strolled.

All these memories, just a start, give me joy every day
And the best part of all is to know that you'll stay
By my side through it all, hand in hand, arm in arm,
To weather the winds and the sun and the storms.
These days, two-thousand nine-hundred and twenty-two,
Are just a start to eternity I will spend loving you.

It's truly bad, I know. It goes on and on, the meter is all wrong, and some of the lines don't even rhyme. But it came from my heart, and my wife was happy. Of course this might have been because I read it to her right before bedtime when she was completely exhausted and just happy to be going to sleep, but still, I gave it a shot.

So this Valentine's Day, I urge all of my faithful readers (all two of you) to be patient with your husbands when they write bad poetry for you. They are trying, really, and love you more than you can possibly comprehend, even if they can't form a single coherent sentence to express it -- let alone write you poetry.

And for all you husbands, usually your wife will just appreciate that you tried to write her poetry, even though it might be atrocious (and please ignore her when she acts delighted in the same way that she does when the kids bring home from school really awful art that looks like roadkill). Keep trying, for one day something surprising (in a good way) might result.

And Happy Valentine's Day!

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