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They’re poets and they know it

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

The Pulaski Public Library hosted a poetry reading this week featuring two local poets, both of whom have been published.

The first to read was Kevin McDaniel who lives in Dublin. McDaniel will see his second book of poetry entitled “Rubbernecking,” published this coming August. In describing his new work, McDaniel said, “Poetry is an attic where memory is stored.”

Rubber Necking is comprised of 80 poems, many of which deal with McDaniel’s family and personal memories, including this one, entitled Wiffle Ball.

 

Wiffle Ball

After Grandma’s

sunny eggs over easy,

we rapped on doors

to round up other boys,

Bucky, Boyers, Joey, Little John,

Donny Jr, and Seekford,

for Saturday morning

whiffle ball games

on a desolate parking deck

where we drew

chalk lines to connect

cardboard scraps for bases.

When a fly ball sailed

over the crumbling border wall,

a homerun,

when hits skittered over,

automatic doubles,

slow grounders tangled up

in thorny tufts?

Get what you can get!

Donny Jr, who at third base

smoked cigarettes,

always fired the white, holey ball,

webbed in electrical tape,

that burnt like a real baseball

when it smacked my cupped hands.

Honest Jon, in his Cubbies cap,

ran out from behind homeplate

to adjudicate close calls. Nowadays,

we kid about the gang gathering

to play one more as older men.

But that parking deck is gone.

 

Parks Lanier is a well-known local poet who taught at Radford University for many years. In the late 90s, McDaniel once took classes taught by Lanier and refers to the senior poet as his mentor.

 

“I really have enjoyed working with Kevin McDaniel these past several years, encouraging him through two books and now a third soon to be published,” said Lanier. “‘Rubbernecking’ expresses so well his love of family and that sharp sense of observation that enlightens all his work. Kevin is a truly dedicated writer who devotes his time and talent to the pursuit of excellence. His wide publication record is testimony to how his dedication is being recognized and rewarded.”

 

Recently, Lanier was notified that his poem, “At the Gates of Paradise” won Honorable Mention in the Grace Writers 2019 Contest, sponsored by Grace Lutheran Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

 

At the Gates of Paradise

 

You ruined Firenze for me, you little witch of a pickpocket,

Sidling closer, ever closer, as we strained to hear our guide

Describe Ghiberti’s masterpiece, the beautiful Baptistery gates.

Oh, I knew they were replicas, fakes to save the real ones

From grimy tourists like me. I had seen their like in London

But seeing these in the shadow of Brunelleschi’s dome

Made them special, but you ruined the moment, you

With your tawdry jacket, sleeves slit for easier manipulation.

Each time I turned my head toward Adam and Eve or the Israelites

Bowing down to the golden calf, you would edge closer, itching

To get your hands on a purse or down a trouser pocket.

Finally, I told the guide to send you off, and she did, bluntly.

I saw you scurry over to the steps of Santa Maria and reach,

Affectionately, around the shoulders of two Japanese eager

For a photo op with a real Italian, authentic in every respect.

When you lowered your hands, you would clean them out.

O Lady of the Flowers, I prayed, have mercy on her, another thief

Like the one who died beside your Son, stealing from Him the last

Drop of salvation while the sun went dark at noon.

 

Both poets will likely attend the upcoming Open Mic at the Pulaski Public Library at 5 p.m. Thursday. The public is invited to participate or simply spectate.

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