Michael J Shay
A page to explore the words of the Poet
Left out of 2021
It is hard for me to
Think I didn’t just betray
You, Huck. Left you to fend
Off Pap in those Illinois woods.
Or just left you, Jim, standing
On that raft looking out at
Nothing, holding the oar,
Learning us a new song.
It all, America, got so bad
Though, and I know if
It was just us in that library,
Like the first time I smelled
Huck’s pipe and heard Jim’s
Cackle laugh; you’d forgive me,
Since you guys could spin
Yarns without the worry of
Exclusion – they were private
For Jim to pontificate and Huck
Always saying “that’s not the
Way I remember, or that’s not
Way the widow said or Tom.
Damn, I almost forgot Tom.
Somewhere I think in this June
Sun, with the wind coming of
My river, and the heat being
Almost gone for the day, you
Would say, Shay, it’s all right
To go to hell if you thought
By giving up teaching the book,
You make more peace, lessen
Hatred, provide for another voice,
More sensitive to critical race
Theory than old Twain just
Telling how it was – the whole
Stink of it – but of love and
Friendship and change too if
We just got past feeling our own
Wounds. I know that’s not right;
I can’t explain, and I already said
Too much for a poem, and Huck
Has wandered off, and Jim’s lit
The fire and cooking us the best
Damn catfish we’ll ever eat
Under these stars. Nobody will
Follow us now; adventure’s over.
I sure wish we could go back,
Read those words, free and easy,
Knowing it was the last time.
What is your favorite book, movie, song that may be outdated? What makes it out of fashion? Would a younger generation reject it? Why do you believe it shouldn’t? Write a letter to a child telling them why they should read or listen or watch the work.
Poem of the Day – “A Study of Reading Habits” by Philip Larkin
Word of the Day – Meringue
What I am Reading – Red Azalea by Anchee Min
What I am Listening to – History of the English Language Podcast
I am a poet, father, writer, teacher who lives in the Philadelphia area. I have taught high school English for over 20 years and believe that the practice of writing and reading each day makes us better humans and thinkers.
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