Saturday, May 12, 2012

Poetics: Wild Things, i think i love you (but i wanna know for sure)

Street Art, Richmond, VA
The problem with prodigals
is you never know they are until they are
and come back, like Max, realizing where
love resides

Sendak once replied to a child's letter
with a personal original Wild Thing picture
the mother sending him, 'Jim liked it so much
he ate it.'

This he said, was the highest compliment.

& I came home, having found my own monsters
with terrible eyes rolling, gleaming teRRible teeth
and with claws that were mostly TE(a)RribLE as well

Not sail-ing, more a stumble through a snow storm---
my mother driving an hour to the hospital room
of my landing & i vaguely remember the grey road
as shadow in the violent slashing white

He was gay, you know---Not that it has anything 
to do with it---but it does---just check public opinion
polls, political roles & swim the twitter streams
& he---never told his parents
saying 'All I wanted was to be straight so my parents
could be happy'

What is that like?

Never being able to let
those that (should) love you most know who
you really are, or having others legislate for you
what that love can mean---

When the Wild Things came out, it was banned,
as well, until children would not leave it alone---
they understand better than us

Perhaps fear drives out compassion, or twists it
like licorice, with twice the bite, the older brother
angry and jealous at the affection of one that would
stray, run away---when a father offers hugs
and throws a great banquet---the trouble though comes
sitting by the window, waiting for them to re-turn
remembering & re-playing all the reasons
for their leaving
& when you eat this poem, chew it, like gum,
really masticate it until all the flavor is gone,
then blow bubbles as we did as kids,
when monsters lived under our beds and some---
were even friends---then

put down the brands & pitchforks
and take a look at yourself, take a look at...

Today at dVerse Poets, I have the privilege of inviting Aaron Kent in as a guest host. He sent me an idea to honor someone that passed this week that definitely touched my childhood through his art and books. Between the passing of Sendak and MCA this adolescence is vanishing before my eyes. And of course I could not help sticking my nose into the political arena.

If the Secret Service is reading, I am coming no where near the stadium where Romney is speaking today. So relax. Smiles.


the walking man said...

Masticating poetry is one way to keep your teeth strong...which is one weapon the secret service will never suspect unless of course they read the comment section but even then it's Romney trying to bite you not the other way round.

Now says I your youth is passing off into the reaches of memory but i calls bullshit on that one the characters in the stories may change but you have kids of your own so youth will be with you at least another decade or so yet Sonny.

It's also not sticking your nose in when someone is trying to tax that appendage off your face.

Mary said...

Darn it, missed #1

Mary said...

Your poem is a good reminder of the importance of being able to love the one you want to without fear; and also a reminder that often the monsters in the world are much more frightening than any monsters an artist such as Sendak could create, 'monsters' that children are smart enough to FREELY love!

Claudia said...

i always liked the really ugly ones much more than those with a shining surface who are constantly telling others how to live their life..and i always liked the prodigal son much more than the one who stayed at home, doing his duty. you can't hide any more the moment you're eating with the pics..i like this a lot bri..i would love to cite a few lines that i liked especially but (wipes her mouth..) just ate the whole and it tasted very real..smiles

Claudia said...

oh..i meant pigs of course..not pics..ha

Grace said...

I am not into your US politics but I like the idea of eating your poem, chewing it like gum until the flavor is on my tongue, planting seeds of love and hope ~

Daniel said...

This was a great way to start my day. Lots of vivid ideas and deep thoughts to get the old mind churning away.

janaki nagaraj said...

Your poem went down well with me...smiles.
Fear exists where there is love...and one certainly gets lost in trying to live up to others.

Laurie Kolp said...

Amazing, strong piece, Brian. I especially like:

& when you eat this poem, chew it, like gum,
really masticate it until all the flavor is gone,
then blow bubbles as we did as kids,
when monsters lived under our beds and some---
were even friends---then

put down the brands & pitchforks
and take a look at yourself, take a look at

Pauline said...

Fear for oneself always drives out compassion. Fear for another brings it back. Take a look at yourself is such good advice!

I ate the poem, it was that good.

Myrna R. said...

This is powerful Brian. I love the mix of fantasy, politics and reality. They all have potential to create monsters.

I'm getting fat, eating all your poems. But they're like chocolate to me and you know I can't resist a good Hershey bar.

Gloria said...

This poem , I likke, make me sad too, I understand, love it:) you think Im crazy? maybe, have a nice day

Maggie May said...

I am digesting the poem!
You have some original ideas.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Janice said...

I love all the different paths you take in this piece...yet tied it all together. There were so many wonderful elements here, and I chuckled at your final comment to the secret service.

LadyFi said...

This is wonderful - a tribute with bite!

Pat Hatt said...

You gave the cat the runs
What do you put in your verse buns?
Is guess he wasn't supposed to swallow it
But he did as bubbles he could not spit
True as always at your shore
One can explore
And find what they want or need
But be afriad to tell those close at their feed
Out of fear
Or knowing they won't give a cheer
Sad state
For such a fate

kaykuala said...

It's a great way to cover lots of grounds here. The political scene especially is heating up. Great write, Brian!


Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

Somehow wild things need to be seen the most, yet they hide best. :)

Shawna said...

"'All I wanted was to be straight so my parents could be happy'"

Oh boy. This is heavy---trying to be anything that will just make other people happy. [sigh]\

"When the Wild Things came out, it was banned,
as well, until children would not leave it alone---
they understand better than us" ... Isn't that the truth?!

"Perhaps fear drives out compassion, or twists it
like licorice, with twice the bite" ... Love this.

"waiting for them to re-turn" ... Oh, that hyphen is so clever. Even when they do return, there's always the likelihood that they will re-turn-away---go prodigal again. Nice.

"& when you eat this poem" ... Love this turn.

And I love the implied ending: "take a look at ... the wild thing [yourself]."

Great opening as well: "The problem with prodigals is you never know they are until they are" ... If only it could be predicted before it happens.

"my adolescence is vanishing before my eyes" ... Isn't that the way?! Yes, it is.

stu mcp (hate & hope) said...

great tribute Brian- I loved this book...was a total chunk of my childhood....I like the political context you put it in, commenting on The authors sexual orientation - how the book was banned- and just a whole load of craziness around what is essentially a really harmless book that just reflects how children use their spun some awesome lines in this tho for sure....if only we could bottle that feeling of childhood innocence and imagination- as an adult- I'd be wanting to take a cheeky swig out of it every day

Heaven said...

Sorry I accidentally published my post when I was still editing it. Will read the entire D'verse post first, before I post it just to make sure ~

Yousei Hime said...

Very nice. I like him even more after absorbing all the love and respect others are showing in their writing to honor him. :)

Aaron Kent said...

Wonderful poem.
He was with his partner for 50 years before his partner passed away, and I remember reading somewhere that he never told his parents he was gay as - like you said - he didn't want to dissapoint them.
It's hard to watch heroes (such as Maurice and even the creations he made: Max etc.) pass away, but some - like Maurice - stay strong through all the controversies and never cut the sorry figure we see of people who had it and lost it. He was - and always will be - truely great (just like this poem).

Mama Zen said...

Great write, Brian.

Brandee Shafer said...

You're in a corner of my brain. I've been trying for months (and esp. hard for days) to write a post on homosexuality, and seem like--no matter how hard I try--the words don't come out the way I would like. I really like your poem, though. I wasn't a huge Sendak fan but smiled in knowing some kid liked The Wild Thing so much that he ate it. Did you like the movie? (I wanted to but really didn't?)

Alice Audrey said...

It's hard for me to understand why anyone would ban Where The Wild Things Are. It's such a tame book.

Sub Radar (Mike) said...

Maurice really did have a knack for translating tough times into fun and relatable adventures in imagination. A fitting tribute!

hedgewitch said...

Wonderful take, Brian. Nothing will ever twist your compassion into licorice, I don't think.

♫♪♥PhilO♥♪♫ said...

This was a very good tribute!
Sometimes situations dont let us reveal who we really are

FrankandMary said...

Part of me was thinking about John Travolta(which I sure don't do often, thankfully)while reading this, but only part.

Fear, furious hopes, baffling hate..all goes together.

Eva Gallant said...

I enjoyed this one; still chewing on it.

Steve E said...

Brud, I don't fully understand that very last line in your post...the political remark? Is that written for REAL? YOU?

Yes, I DO keep up with U.S. politics, all the nuances, and outright LIES. Plus I don't care WHO is (what's that 'new' word?) GAY (holy crap, GAY?) or NOT, so long as they leave me alone.

And they did NOT--when I was ages 6, 7, 8, 9--and I DARE not breath a word to anyone, because NOBODY would even believe me--then, or now!

HOWEVER--If THAT is what our presidential office is coming to, whether gay rights, my rights, your rights, their rights, her rights, etc., etc.

I have the 'right' to LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS, NO MORE! Don't take that away from me, and I won't take it away from you.

And, Brian, I am simply doing what you do, standing up for what I DO believe. I dislike slogans, but there is one which I've been applying to my own life:



Daydreamertoo said...

Such a great shame he couldn't be who he truly was for his mum and dad. It would have made his life so much easier if he could have truly been who he was.
This is lovely Brian. Accepting of people just as they are, warts n all.
Fabulous read. said...

My mother is a lesbian and my best friend is gay so I just got all choked up here Brian, thank you.

Wolfsrosebud said...

... makes you wonder what happiness really is. And there's only one way of really knowing.

CiCi said...

Vivid memories attached to this one.

You ask the question of what is like to not be able to be yourself with those who should love you and accept you for who you are. I have sympathy for anyone who does not feel comfortable being himself. For I am someone who learned to accept myself as I had always accepted others.

How many of us could put a word in that one sentence "I always wanted to be __________ so my parents would be happy.

Do we put that kind of pressure on our kids?


Natasha Head said...

I figure we're all probably on every no-fly list ever put together, Poet...comes with the territory, doesn't it. This is fantastic,and wouldn't be you without some of your awesome between the line digs at the one lucky enough to come under your pens radar...One Love MUST include the love of the wild things, and the brilliant mind that helps us find our way to them.

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

"The problem with prodigals
is you never know they are until they are and come back, like Max, realizing where love resides..."

Hi! Brian...
Your [very] poetic words today are very eclectic...addresses a myriad Of issues.
Tks, for sharing the image...too!

Sendak once replied to a child's letter with a personal original Wild Thing picture the mother sending him, 'Jim liked it so much he ate it.'

This he said, was the highest compliment.


Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

Hi! again, Brian...
Brian, I hope you, your wife the beautiful Mrs. [Tara] Miller, [and family] is having a lovely, Mother's Day week-end...too!
deedee :-D

Wander said...

sad week for hip-hop and imagination for sure and as far as that rights thing...kinda funny how some people cant stand government playing any role in business, but they cant stand government not playing a role in peoples personal decisions....kinda funny, don't you think?


Mary Mansfield said...

A poem worth chewing on again and again. Love the interplay of the imagination of childhood and the complications of adulthood.

Shawna said...

I love your title (and that song), by the way. Forgot to mention that earlier. :)

PattiKen said...

Powerful, Brian, and so very sad.

Years ago I stood with several gay friends at the Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade, watching families march by with a banner that said, "We love our gay and lesbian children." With tears in his eyes, the man standing next to me said, "I would give anything to see my parents in that group."

JeannetteLS said...

My oldest friend, with whom I shared everything for 55 of our 59 birthdays, had her partner of a decade split around the same time my husband did. Only she was working at a time and in a place where her being a lesbian was never spoken of. Where she had to wear a dress to "pass," which she pointed out really did not work with the sneakers that were her constant footwear.

But her partner left for a 21 year old student, just as my husband left for a 21 year old student. Only at work, all she could say was that her housemate had left. No one seemed to care or give voice that what she was enduring was precisely what I had to go through.

Your poem made me remember her heartache. It made me remember that much HAS changed, but not everything. Oh, no, not by a long shot.

A week of loss, most definitely, but as always, Brian, you create a piece that leaves us with something yummy to chew on. Thank you for this.

DQPoetry said...

Love it!

Interesting style of writing, almost prose as much as poetry. But for me the best thing was that you tackled the tough issues head on and made me as a reader think as much as enjoy!

Susan said...


I chew, but the flavor is still there along with the friendly monsters. How I wish the adults in children's lives (and in co-workers' lives) would show them how to befriend rather than fear the world straight or gay or the many shades in between. Un-monster the world.

pandamoniumcat said...

So much in your poem that resonates today... as does The Wild Things...we need to be able to love ourselves and others without fear and give everyone the opportunity to share their love with the world even if doesn't fit within traditional conventions...

Frank Watson said...

Your poem gives a lot to chew on, Brian (if I wanted to chew on my monitor :P). The way you related politics to personal experience was powerful, and how you connected monsters with reality.

kaykuala said...

I'm called upon to comment again after seeing d'Verse Poetics. It's a great tribute to Sendak. Not privileged of knowing him. But he cleverly managed to weave 'Wild Things' around children. That's amazing. Thanks for sharing! Great write!


Tara Miller said...

To see through the eyes of children....if only we could still do that sometimes. I do think at times our fears root out the compassion we might otherwise have for many situations. Interesting write today.

Lolamouse said...

Maurice Sendak is one of my heroes. His books don't talk down to kids. They are honest, which is probably why adults are so scared of them. In an interview, he said that the best thing parents can do for their kids is to "love them." When asked what this meant, he said simply, "Accept them." He will be missed. Great tribute.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

My mind is chewing away at your words. My dead son was gay, and yes he died of cmplications due to his HIV status. Didn't make me love him less, didn't make him a bad person. Unfortunately it did not make him a good person, either. My grieving has been complicated for many reasons, but his sexual preferance was not one of them. They (the infamous they) say that good came come from any circumstance, but I am not convinced that it is so.

Ravenblack said...

To only take everything in by eating, we'll be too busy tasting and digesting to be carrying pitchforks. Another thought that comes to me from reading this poem: How much do we try something with different senses before we decide what it is.

Enjoyed reading this. :)

Hannah said...

Amazing poetry, Brian! I love the fear twisting licorice part and the chewing of this poem completely...chewing gum. You touched on many deep and important topics in this and I leave feeling sad but also glad that people, like you, are willing to speak up. :)

Evelyn said...

"and with claws that were mostly TE(a)RribLE as well"
I like how you play with things like this, its true to your style.

zongrik said...

i liked it was banned until children couldn't put it down. it's fun reading it in different languages.

Fred Rutherford said...

Very cool write Brian. Fitting tribute here, but so much more than that, great imagery and story, that is accompanied by some wise reflection as social commentary. Great piece. Thanks

darkangelwrites said...

Very interesting direction you took this. I am now introspective... as you instructed.

Dave King said...

This is just superb. For me, it has everything: fantasy, reality, social responsibility, political imperative - and it is full of feeling. A triumph.

Valerie said...

Had to Google Romney after you mentioned him on my blog. I wouldn't go to hear him either. Read how he cruelly bullied kids at school. Hmm does a character ever change?

California Girl said...

Terrific imagery in this. Read it twice :)

Be sure to ask Romney about his decision on gay marriage.

Charles Miller said...

I like how this morphs from a tribute to Sendak to a reminder and reflection on how fear dominates the political scene in this country. People must wake up to the fact that fear takes on many shapes and is often just a bogey man, whose existence only thrives on their lack of courage, which itself should originate in courage. What is different about children and adults and the imagination is that the fears and imaginings of adults can have disastrous effects on the lives of many others. It can also create and perpetuate injustice. Your poem displays that emotional insight that will often sway the prejudices of others and help them abandon those prejudices.

John (@bookdreamer) said...

A reminder that the monsters of the wild are nothing to the monsters that know the truth is only in the words they read

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

Makes me sad at how many try to live a life for other people. And RIP Maurice Sendak. I'm glad the wild things message will live on and on.

Matt said...

Great poem. I love wild things.

AngelMay said...

Love THIS. Love you. Hi Brian!

tony said...

It really amazes me that Gayness is still a political issue.i hope Romney is made to eat his words.

ordinarylifelessordinary said...

Can only echo what others have already said, and just add that I love how your voice really comes through in this.Even though I have never heard you speak you have a way of writing that I truly hear. nicely done.

Vicki Lane said...

What a magnificent combination of current events -- so true and so sad.

Mystic_Mom said...

Brian - you rocked it (again)...this is so very very good.

Uneven Stephen said...

Awesome poem & tribute! This stanza is fantastic and rings so true:

"When the Wild Things came out, it was banned,
as well, until children would not leave it alone---
they understand better than us"

It really is a shame that we live in a world where it is a battle to just be yourself - that all these labels and designations are imposed upon us. Great poem.

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

Wonderful poem! And I giggled at your note to the Secret Service. I've written them notes myself on my other blog (my political blog) from time to time ... mostly during the GWB administration. :)

Chris Lawrence said...

Full of things to linger in the mind and it has a strong sense of realization in it

otin said...

To show you how out of touch I am with literature, I had no idea who that Sendak guy was.

I will admit that I've masticated a couple of times today! LOL

Shawn said...

I really enjoyed your poetics poem. I never knew I could learn so much in such a short amount of lines. Props!

Secret Agent Woman said...

Don't know if you ever saw Stephen Colbert's interview with Sendak? It's fabulous:

Glenn Buttkus said...

I just adore how you take hard facts, and season them with personal anecdotes and some liberal politico-prose; nice job, sir.

Magpie said...

"or twists it
like licorice, with twice the bite,"
Can I just say AWESOME!

Dawn said...

A very lyrical statement of facts... Loved it- especially how you were able to weave in the issues surrounding gay marriage. Love it!

Dawn said...

A very lyrical statement of facts... Loved it- especially how you were able to weave in the issues surrounding gay marriage. Love it!

Raven said...

Not much to say about this except that it is EXCELLENT! EXCELLENT ... pure and perfect, like his story telling!

Sue said...

I'm sure the Secret Service appreciated the warning...


SaraV said...

Oh That was a chewy one. Thank you for the beauty and licorice (I love licorice) You are a talented man

Jim Swindle said...

Very well-written. I think it's quite possible to separate appreciation of someone's remarkable work, and approval or rejection of their chosen way of life. For example, Byron wrote some great poems, but I don't think anyone should follow his example of how to live.

Syd said...

The highest compliment was to eat the picture! I like that.

Rebecca S. said...

He loved it so much he ate very fitting, I'm not surprised Sendak felt honoured by the action. I read his obit in the Guardian last week. He was one of my favourite author illustrators of all time. Where the Wild Things Are has not a word out of place, and the pictures will live on forever. So GOOD!