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Tulip Festival

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I like to see the newest, most fragile offerings alongside
the old and loamy. Each May, some upstart frilly-headed tulip
gains ground in gardens named for General Washington
and silver trinkets shimmer across from carts of pretzels.
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Masses of visitors — college students, families, singles —
change every year like the Facebook album of a casual friend,
but always a few regulars appear, people I’ve known for decades
like bookmarked photos in a local history text, me as editor
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updating captions : divorced ; last month lost his job ; once again
fighting cancer. This year I pass by hammered aluminum plates
dedicated to Navy vets, hand-carved wooden dioramas,
tie-dyed shirts, sleeveless dresses. Usual wares. What attracts me
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instead are these small hot air balloons made of glass,
hung on string from the top frame of a white canvas booth.
To me, they are fresh revelations — slim red and blue ribbons
on one, yellow-green chevrons on another — although I know
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from writing my poems that nothing stays new for long. Like this vendor
I could blow some shallow breaths into a few precious shapes,
place each at a different height so that when spring winds
or rude teens rush by, they shiver but don’t collide — even then
some old thick danger, a city’s pit-bull, might wreak its havoc.
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by Therese L. Broderick
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(An artist’s statement about this poem appears as the first comment.)

About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

One response »

  1. ARTIST’S STATEMENT about this poem
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    Fact & Fiction –
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    Most statements in this poem are autobiographically accurate. Yesterday my family and I went to Albany’s Tulip Festival in Washington Park. I bought a glass hot-air balloon as a gift. The phrases in italics are examples of life events happening to people in general, but are not applicable to the individuals I saw at the Tulip Festival. I took notes on the colors and patterns of the glass so that I could put them into my poem. While I was at the festival, I heard some fragile (perhaps glass, porcelain ?) thing shatter in the crowds behind me, but a pit-bull (invented in my poem) was not the cause. And yes, I do know for sure that everything I write about has already been written about, countless times, by poets who are much finer writers than I.
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    Sound & Sense –
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    I strove to write a longer poem than I usually do, with longer lines and more details. Also I strove to incorporate more metaphors/similes than I usually do. I deliberately worked to get the first few lines to attract the reader’s attention by offering both a general observation (first sentence) and an interesting metaphor (tulips “gaining ground” against General Washington’s army). This strategy was used in a fine poem by Cleopatra Mathis which I recently read and admired. The contrast I introduce early (fragile/loamy) I revisit throughout the poem : trinkets/fried dough ; Facebook / history text ; poem / pit bull. In the last line, I use “old, thick” to recall “loamy.”

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