Monday, September 4, 2017

"Pin Pricks" by Carol Hamilton, Poet of the Week

Editor’s Note:  I hope you enjoyed the postings in Songs of Eretz over the last two weeks, which featured the poetry of this year’s guest contest judge, Eric McHenry, the immediate past Poet Laureate of Kansas, and the original artwork of up-and-coming young artist J. Artemus Gordon.  This week will feature the poetry of former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma Carol Hamilton, the guest judge from our 2016 contest.  Hamilton’s bio may be found here (scroll down to near the end of the page).  Her poetry has appeared numerous times in Songs of Eretz and may be enjoyed here

Pin Pricks
Carol Hamilton

Like Gogol's overcoat 
and my mother dropping 
her Depression-Era ice cream, 
two loss stories still haunting me,
small things ever-remembered,
those no-value-to-others things ...
I know you will shrug …
and why not?
My Campfire Girl hankie 
with a bluebird embroidered 
at one soft white, rolled corner 
was never found, nor was 
my disappeared cat, Buttercup,
though I sang Pinafore's song
to many a yellow stray
hoping for pricked-up ears 
and golden eyes to signal recognition.
Such emotions are labeled pathos.
I wallow in my sentimentality.
These small sorrows inform
my way of seeing the death
of my friend's daughter
killed by McVeigh's bomb,
or those whose son hanged himself 
from the branches 
of their friendly backyard tree.
Is there a point in having
just enough hurt at the loss
of silly things? Without them,
maybe even Gogol would not
have touched my heart. 
Such tiny wounds … punctures 
not given to inoculate,
but left there to form scars.

Poet’s Notes:  I always loved the 19th Century Russian novelists and story writers. I was saddened when I had read them all--several, I have re-read three or four times. Gogol's story, "The Overcoat," always remained a sad symbol for me of when people lose what is most precious to them. When we hear so much of online cruelty, and there is always news of how hardened we can become to others' tragedies, I wondered how we learn to care.

Editor’s Note for “Pin Pricks”:  This one has a bittersweet universal quality with which I believe every reader will identify.  Using "The Overcoat" as a conceit works perfectly here, as those familiar with the folk tale are sure to agree.  Those unfamiliar with the story would benefit from the summary found here

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