NA Poetry

Why I Write Poetry for the New Annapolitans

By Barbara Dwyer Brown

New Annapolitans PoetryI have been writing poetry for more than forty years. It began as a dabbling with words and images to express thought in a more concise and innovative mode than that I had used in writing daily journal entries. Ultimately I chose to write my doctoral dissertation–my field was French language and literature–on a comparative stylistic analysis of two book-length poems. Upon completion of that project and once released from its rigors, I began to write poetry more seriously.

After retiring from the world of academe I moved to Annapolis and was almost immediately urged by a neighbor to join the New Annapolitans, which I did somewhat reluctantly. However, I soon became aware of the caliber of its members and the opportunities it offered. I co-chaired the theater group and the birthday luncheon/fashion show. The next thing I knew I was president (1996-97) and had to come up with an appropriate way to start each meeting. I searched for a poem that would be effective, but found none. The solution was to write one, which I did for each meeting. Once my term was completed, I was asked to write a poem for each February birthday luncheon and for the new officers’ luncheon in June, and I have continued to do so ever since.

I owe the New Annapolitans—each and every one—a debt of gratitude for the enthusiasm with which each poem has always been received. That response has kept me writing and thus progressing in an art form I love.

Finding Joy

No one has ever gifted me
with a bouquet of dandelions
they seem unfit for crystal vases
or streaming ribbons
but today
covering the pasture in glorious thousands
they put to shame the purists
who spend sun-filled hours bent over
trowel or Round-Up in hand
trying to get those buggers before
they turn into fuzzy spheres of
spiky seeds
perhaps they are first cousins to the
spent apple blossom petals that the wind
sweeps up into handfuls of
pink surprise in the gutters
outside the Double T or the potholes
in back of Grauls
this kind of loveliness gives me special joy
I revel in the simplicity of things
that cannot disappoint
the first firefly
rain that leaves puddles
that catch the sky’s blue
the sound of croakers in the spring
these dumb things know nothing about
the beauty or joy or peace they create
their wonder is in us
how can we not revel in the mystery
of this connectedness that binds us
to a world of joy
and to each other
I wish you fireflies and croakers and puddles

~June 2015

 

The Art of Persisting

(written for the New Annapolitans’ 30th birthday)

We are all counters
from the cradle up we count
first our toes and our fingers
our peas and our candies
later we get to pennies and dollars
and not long after we begin to tally years
these witnesses to our lives that
become more than sums
for they bear immutable witness to
persisting
this business of becoming what
destiny would have us be
to burnishing our selves
with our lives' challenges
today we mark a number that
prods remembrance even as
it speaks prophecy
today we celebrate thirty years
of bonding
we celebrate more than six hundred
friends who have found friends
we celebrate the pearls
of friendship itself
that grow more lustrous
with the warmth of contact
we celebrate a gathering that
knows neither stranger nor misfit
we celebrate the cause
of our coming together
we have taught each other

~February 2015

 

Epilogue to a Dream

The idea was to find a few freshly
uprooted folks
who didn’t care about life’s trappings
or the social register
who could find time for a cup of coffee
and some conversation
and so the word went out
and traveled easily and people came
and came
and came
talk, talk, talk
lots of coffee, laughter
What to do?
let’s do lunch and talk
how about a club
with stuff to do
we’ll meet somewhere
and plan a trip
that’s how it happened
and it goes on and grows
we have become more than coffee
and conversation
every get-together
is prologue to a plan

~February 2013

 

Love Poem for a Birthday

Every word was once a poem; and every

Relationship is a new word. Emerson

Before the grandness of this room the
sparkling tables set for one hundred
eager jazz of friends’ chatter
the imagination falters in its reach backward to
a far simpler scene that set the rhythm for today
one score and three years ago Tecla and Pat
brought forth in a bricked corner
of the West Street library a few folks
drawn by their quest for the
grail of friendship
hot coffee pastry newcomers’ chat
created a bonding so simply strong
it could not but endure
here friendship without pretense
easy companionship for lone newcomers
are the rare gems who warm brilliance
has drawn us all and taught us
how ready acceptance confirms us in ourselves
how simplicity engenders love
how belonging underpins talent
the sole exigency of today’s party of birthing
is to revel in the joy of our treasure
exult in our selves
the New Annapolitans is you
you with your unabashed needs
you with your generosity and your talents
and most especially
you with your power to love

~February 2008

 

luncheon musings

so what’s a friend
a sudden patch of daisies
in a field of hay
a soothing melody that filters
through the web of memory
a self you didn’t know
was buried in your heart
perhaps a treasure that you found
in your search for you
or maybe all of these
arranged around the table
where nothing’s asked
but pause
to share
a common joy

~July 2001

 

Thoughts for a birthday

Each time I go to the Hallmark store
(because I care enough to send the very best)
and pluck birthday cards from nesting slots
like feathers from a scalded hen
I’m a tad put down by antic faces
shouting to my eyes
Another already? Call the fire department
when they light the candles on your cake!
or
Don’t worry about how old you are
just think of Methusulah!
or
If you must have another birthday
you might as well live it up!

I’d rather think that birthdays were designed
to assure remembrance of an unparagoned creation
destined like an acorn to become some mighty wonder
and that each year’s celebration deserves more gala
to befit the marvel.

Today New Annapolitans is twelve years old
now grown in prodigies from eight to
four hundred fourteen
And I’m reminded of my proud father’s best advice
for dealing with myself and with the world
“Tell ‘em who you are!”
It was sage counsel
so I pass it on:

We are twelve years wonderful
twelve years kind and thoughtful and ready to help
For twelve years we’ve looked around
for folks who needed friends
or help or hints on fun
See what we have found
Look at this once-in-forever creation
a world that glows resplendent with this festival
of friendship’s nurturing
Happy Birthday, New Annapolitans!
Tell ‘em who you are!

~February 1998