Poem 30 and a Big Thank You to Tupelo Press

Well, we’re at the end.  Day 30 poems are posted.  Firstly, a few thank yous.  Thank you to Tupelo Press for this great challenge and opportunity to stretch myself, to get some extra exposure, and to meet some wonderful people.  Thank you to Kirsten, Marie, and Kaylie at Tupelo Press for all their assistance, advice, and cheerleading along the way.  Thank you to Linda, Dana, Jennifer, Christine, Kevin, Michael, Roseanne, and Anna, the best team I’ve had in years.

Poem 30 – At the End of the Road is dedicated to Jim Spencer and Sonnya Espinal.  Jim is a friend I met years ago in a nonfiction writing workshop.  Sonnya was the first person at Tokyo Orientation going to Fukui (I met someone else at the airport the day before), and has been a good friend over the past 17 years.  Thank you both for sponsoring me.

I had trouble writing Poem 30 because it was the final poem of these “challenge months.”  Technically, it is poem 45, but is listed as poem 44 since I combined two earlier challenge poems together.  Being the last, I wanted to try to say something meaningful and as a result, it’s a draft that’s also a bit of mess.  It’s also three different attempts at poem 30 combined, adding to the mess.  How I will approach the theme and direction of the edits gained some clarity after I read Naomi Shihab Nye’s essay in the Washington Post yesterday.  Naomi is a big reason I started and continue to write.  She ran the first workshop I took in creative writing and assisted and advised me until I got to my MFA.  She’s always been very generous to me and for that I am eternally grateful.  One of the things that I’ve always admired about her writing and my favorite poems of hers is the essential humanity within them.  Naomi’s essay made me feel like it was okay to have complicated thoughts and feelings.  That provided clarity for me.  Perhaps I will be the only one who will gain such an insight from this, but maybe not.  In any case, my poem is my own struggle with complicated thoughts and feelings.

Lately, I’ve been reading non-technical books about aikido.  The two books are Enlightenment Through Aikido and Journey to the Heart of Aikido.  Both books contain a number of anecdotes about O-Sensei, himself a very complicated man.  He was a devout man yet one of the great martial artists of his generation.  He was an imperialist, tied into the military elite, yet suddenly quit all his positions in 1942 and left for the country.  A man of incredibly weak health yet phenomenally strong.  This doesn’t give you any clarity into my poem, but it is how a number of references I’ve made in this and the last poem have come into being.  If you’re really confused now.  Good.  I’ve done my job.

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1 Response to Poem 30 and a Big Thank You to Tupelo Press

  1. JAMES SPENCER says:

    Hey Daryl,

    Thanks for the dedication!!! That was really sweet, glad to be mentioned with a friend whom you’ve known for so long.

    Strangely, your note asking me to name a topic quickly led me to think of something that I wanted to write on the same topic! My thinking/free associating went something like: I want him to write something about kinship, because I know he’s been thinking about that a lot – kinship – more than skin – skin-ship- maybe Daryl would like that neologism? Maybe that would just get in his way ; hey! I want to use that!!

    So, for what it’s worth – a non-professional poem dedicated to your family. And despite the resemblances of diction, and biological imagery – I wrote my poem before I read yours – so, the relation is purely in the inspiration of your request for a topic. Hope you enjoy. And congrats on meeting the 30/30 challenge.

    All the best, Jim


    for Daryl, Rebecca, Maya & Samuel

    Kinship is more than skin-ship,

    Family can be less than familiar.

    Strange, the ties that bind –

    No volition but love, the force

    Through the bone, through the cell,

    Driving how we are made kind.

    Ail together choosing our likenesses

    In faces and hands not unlike our own:

    Utterly unarrangeable marriages

    Of kith not yet kin.

    Kinship is more than skin-ship

    And thicker than blood.

    PS – Before I sent this, I decided to see if “skinship” was really a neologism on my part. I figured it couldn’t be…and I was right. But I was surprised and delighted by this from Wikipedia: The term “skinship” (スキンシップ, sukinshippu. ) originated as a pseudo-English Japanese word (a wasei-eigo), which was coined to describe the intimacy, or closeness, between a mother and a child

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