Friday, December 5, 2014

Poetry Friday: Happy Birthday, Calvin Trillin!

Deadlines like little fish floating past me....
I haven't been posting very often on The Drift Record lately, not sure why. Since retiring from my teaching position with Vermont College of Fine Arts, I find myself more than a little thrilled with the non-push and non-rush of not even knowing what day of the week it is. Deadlines float past me like little fish that I don't need to catch, I just want to enjoy their liveliness and their shimmer. I don't mind seeing these little fingerlings swimming around down there under the water - I like knowing life is bustling somewhere around me. But it's like being in the back of a rowboat that's being rowed around a calm lake by a good friend - there's no need for conversation, we're just lolling around in the sunshine (well, yes, it's December, but I mean the interior glow) and I'm letting my hand drift in the water alongside the boat. Drifting over smooth, silky, cool water - a painting by Claude Monet - that's what retirement has been feeling like.

Smooth, silky, cool water...

On certainly special days, I feel like I'm still at that lake, but this time I'm a fresh-water turtle on a log at the lake's edge, and I have my neck out and I'm absolutely still, soaking up the sun. All's right with the world. My breathing is all I hear. No, that's not true - I hear kids laughing in the distance. Maybe a dog barking. Maybe a crow cawing. No need to respond.
Basking and not knowing what day it is....

So if I don't post regularly on Poetry Friday - that's why. I'm out at that lake. I'm taking a turn at being a quiet turtle on a warm log....

Today, however, I'm not a turtle - I'm popping in because it's Calvin Trillin's birthday, so I want to say Happy Birthday, Calvin.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Trillin

I love the way that man writes (could that explain why I have a whole shelf full of his books?) He's a master of the humorous essay, and he writes fine satirical poetry - political commentary with meter and rhyme.  Reading his work can quickly change a bad mood (when I'm not drifting around on a lake, I'm in the Titanic and it's going down fast) into an okay-it's-not-the-end-of-the-world mood. He makes me laugh out loud, and that's not easy to do because I'm often a cranky, judgmental, hard-to-satisfy reader.

Here is a little something he said about writing poetry, so that's what I'm going to share for Poetry Friday. I think I've got it right:

When people say 'How do you think about what to write about in the poems every week?'  I say, 'Well, I have to turn it in on Monday, so on Sunday nights I turn the shower to iambic pentameter and it sort of works out that way.'

Iambic pentameter in the shower -not as easy as he makes it sound.

Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving and that you are looking forward to being with family and friends over the holidays. I love the bustle of's still a season when I stop being a turtle on a log and I become one of those shimmering fish.

Poetry Friday this week is being hosted by Anastasia at Booktalking - head over there to see what other people are sharing. Don't miss the poem by the late Mark Strand over at Diane Mayr's Kurious Kitty.


  1. Love that quote, and also your illustrated response to it.

    Your description of retirement sounds magical.

  2. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing, Julie!

  3. I think I'm starting to look forward to watching little fish from the back of the rowboat! ENJOY!!

    Love the quote...and the illustration!

  4. Hi, Julie--

    You got me all interested in reading Calvin, and I think your post on the attitudes of retirement is hatching turtlelike into a poem.
    Thank you!