VIDEO: TOD MARSHALL-GHOST TOWN OPEN MIC
ARTICLE: TOD MARSHALL-INLANDER
HOW WE LEARN THAT WE ARE NOT ON OUR OWN
I don’t know what that sheriff thought of me
(shirtless, eight, holding the sheet metal screen
door, bracket and chain to keep it from swinging
busted in the last storm), as I lied to him
again when he asked if my folks were home,
except that his face showed he knew how things
would end up for me. “Come on, I know they’re home.”
The a/c labored in a window, evening
cicadas made racket. Behind me, the TV
that was on when I answered the door, clicked off.
“Who turned it off?” I looked him straight on.
“My little brother,” I said, just as he
toddled in diapers from the back of the trailer,
and we stood side by side, guarding that door.
(First published in Crab Creek Review)
THAT ONGOING WORK
Most of us know only smoke: dirty gauze, grey
weight on each cough of an hour. Red eye
of the sun lingering, that slow arson
plotting with lightning, both hiding in clouds,
and worse: most of us have occasionally cursed
the haze, rubbed watery eyes, mumbling my day,
my breath, my unburnt minutes. We’re like that. Try,
instead, to feel real heat, to hold hands open
and near hot embers, blue propane of a grill;
to see meat slowly sear, grease sizzle
into cinder. It’s okay if you fail.
Just try. And try, too, beneath blue skies when wind
clears smoke away, try to recall the blackened land,
and maybe try becomes a small act to heal the abundant ash, the pain.
(First appeared in Elizabeth Austen's blog)
WRITE YOUR POEM!
Shakespeare had stage blocking to get the attention of the audience with contrast. Sometimes it is the subject matter that shocks, like with farmworkers in Steinbeck's novels. What does the poet have? Not that much. It has to count.
Note that Tod's first poem the screen door and diapers on his brother rivet the reader. Those tiny details are counterweights to whatever the sheriff is bringing to the front door.
What does your screen door do in your poem? Notice there is no waxing eloquent in Tod's poem. The moment is left with the eight-year old. Economy of image and word.
What can you cut out? How can you focus your image? Catch up to Tod around the state. Write your poem.