Friday, October 5, 2007

Poetry Thursday on Friday?

For weeks and weeks now, I've been meaning to begin an occasional Poetry Thursday post, having been inspired by many I saw across the blogosphere over the past year or so. But each week, my Wednesday post became a bigger challenge for me as I arrived home tired after a day of classes, and Thursday I was on the road to hell, good intentions below my feet. So what I thought I could do this week was Poetry Thursday one day late. When I went to the Poetry Thursday website, though, I found that they had their last post at the end of August -- still worth checking out for the many links, however, and they've asked past participants to contribute favourite posts, etc.

I still love the idea of sharing a favourite poem with my readers from time to time, and since I'd already got permission from my friend, Tanis MacDonald, to share a poem from her book Holding Ground (published by Seraphim) --EDITED later, once I caught the unfinished sentence here: should state that since I'd already got Tanis's permission, I'll start with a poem of hers. Tanis and I defended our doctoral dissertations within a month of each other and sat through each other's with bated breath and internal cheering. She got through her dissertation much more quickly than I did, though, having started two or three years later than me, and went straight to a tenure-track job where she's already inspiring another generation of young writers, critics, scholars, and citizens in general. I wish she didn't live all the way across the country, 'cause a group of us used to get together on my little island for a weekend of the best martinis, food, and dancing to corny music that one could ever want from a group of women scholars!

So as I get ready to head out the door for a Thanksgiving weekend in Vancouver (our kids having cancelled, one by one, on plans for a traditional turkey dinner), I'll leave you with this prose poem, "Cowgirl." I thought I'd have a bit of time to tell you why I chose this, what I like about it, but if I take that time, I'll miss a ferry. I think you'll see, though, as soon as you read it -- enjoy!


One summer I waited tables in a country-and-western
bar and wore a cowgirl uniform that was so cheesy all I
could do was make it look like a choice. Bought a cheap
hip holster and two plastic six-shooters, strapped on
spurs that did not jingle jangle jingle but rattled like a
tubercular sidewinder when I walked over to say what
can I get you?

All the other girls were scared of cows and their
boyfriends went to Queens or Laurier and picked them
up after shift, but I knew the smell of cowshit from
shovelling it and my boyfriend had just ridden off into
the sunset without so much as a thank you ma'am.

I wore out my smile, I wore out miles of boot leather
from bar to patio, I bore out too many John Wayne
drawls from guys who said little lady, you look like a
straight shooter, but one night a drunk shoved his hand
up my skirt, and I dropped my tray and pulled my gun,
smacked the plastic barrel between his eyes and he
dropped into a chair like I had shot him and I hated the
moment when I had to make a joke of it, blew fake
smoke from the gun and holstered it to all the laughs
from the big-bellied guys who tipped me twenty cents a

The bouncer was called Abel, that's Mr. Abel to you, dark
as midnight chocolate and ten times as bad for you. He
wore the biggest Stetson in the bar, his bulk hovered at
the edge of my section, calm as ice on a scraped knee.
Once a table of frat boys wouldn't pay, saying what time
do you get off, and suddenly Abel's arm was light as a flag
around my shoulder and he smiled and said how's my
woman treatin' you boys and when I looked again, the
table was a flutter of bills. Abel said I could call him by
his first name as long as I told no one what it was.

I stuffed my tips in a mason jar. I threw away the plastic
guns. I kept Abel's given name a secret.


  1. Cowgirl. I get it. I really love this poem mom, I'd like to know why you do too.

  2. Hi Meg,
    Why do I love this?
    First of all, 'cause I recognize much of it, as many women will, altho' I've never been dependent on tips. I like teasing out the allusions -- the song echoing behind the "spurs that did not jingle jangle jingle" -- the John Wayne western movie imagery, riding off into the sunset -- the wham bam, before the absent "thank you m'am."
    I really like the gutsy way the server makes the best of her cheesy cheap outfit, brazening it out with dime-store accessories.
    And I like the gathering rhythm in the last stanza and the revenge the speaker takes in contrasting the drinkers' big bellies with their stingy tips.
    Lots of other things I like at a technical level, but that's enough for a start. Thanks for giving me some feedback and glad you liked the poem.

  3. great poem and interesting first choice for poem Thursday. I
    liked the hated the moment when I
    had to make a joke of it. that sort of apologizing even when your in the right.


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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