Poetry From My Misbegotten Past

Once upon a time, not so very long ago (let's say 1999), I was a lifeguard. Not one of those bare-chested, sunkissed, God-smiles-upon-me sorts that proudly perch atop summer pool stands, scanning - or sleeping - behind aviator shades and prepared at any moment to gracefully part the waters below in a heroic rescue telegraphed by a Look-At-Me! whistle blast. Well, I was one of those too, but once the summer ended I transformed into a sad-sack, XL t-shirt clad, mopey indoor guard, the made-for-cable version of my big-screen summer blockbuster self. The pool I worked at (which shall be unnamed although it deserves all the vitriol I can spew at it) was rarely used. I'd come in at 5 in the morning, perform the inane opening duties - checking chlorine levels, organizing kickboards by color (unnecessarily) and cleaning used band-aids out of filters. At 6, when the club opened, I'd sit and watch the lone aqua-jogger struggle back and forth, checking his pulse at the end of every lap. As a Red Cross certified guard, I knew that I was morally obligated only to check on him every 20 seconds or so, so I'd fill the intermediate 19 by doodling, writing letters to my wish-you-were-my-girlfriend and, on occasion, composing very childish poetry. I've never considered myself a man of metre, and have far too great a prediliction toward rhyming couplets, so I put sharpie to sheet with a juvenile audience in mind. I recently came across one such poem written in my youthful, idealistic... er, youth, and decided to pass it on. It still expresses a sentiment I like, and in a very faint way reminds me of the better children's poets I enjoyed in my tender years (when exactly are those? I still get pretty fragile). Here it is, I hope you enjoy. There were two more verses, but I've edited it for the better (I think). They were something about locomotives, something about clouds. I don't know. They're better left out.

Alison and I Don't Play Together

by Jem Wierenga, c. 1999

There never was such a nice young girl

as little Alison Plopper.

Hands in her lap, "Madam, please" "No, Sir, thank you,"

she was ever, ever so proper.

But she was never the Queen of Sheba,

dazzling Solomen's eyes.

And she never rode the stallions of Egypt

under the midnight skies.

If I had the choice between being demure,

and living wild and free,

then I'd never choose to be Alison Plopper,

when I have the chance to be me.

Ah, High School. I miss it sometimes.
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7 responses:

Chelsea said...

I feel like I've read that before... I think it's really sweet. Is Alison a real person? Just curious...

Quinn said...

That's awesome. I'm not sure I would ever have the guts to post one of the poems from my youth. They were not very good =)
Color coding the kickboards? REALLY? I'm pretty sure this was the best duty you had.

Megan said...

You know, I always thought that lifeguards were like the ancient gods: over-sexed, glorified, bored and irascible. Is this true?

Also, love the "Dazzling Solomon's eyes" line.

Melody Herrick said...

Love it.
You make me miss high school.

Dad said...

I'm trying to figure out who the wished for girlfriend was at that point as well. Hmmm.

katiewoo13 said...

As I read your introduction, remembering this little poem that you wrote so long ago, I was wondering if my childish memories of awe and inspiration were due only to the my-brother-is-brilliant-and-can-do-no-wrong attitude of my youth or if your writing even then was beautiful. Re-reading and remembering Alison Plopper I know that from an early age you were destined to write.

Valerie said...

Um, yeah. It sounds a lot like a Shel Silverstien kinda poem.