Sunday 18 November 2012

On a poem I spent a month of my life crafting for a contest it never won

This one's for you Mom.  I spent a month crafting it for a contest it never won.  But was that a wasted month?  I don't think so.  I enjoyed the challenge of telling Margaret's story in the ballad form.  And thought there are some clunkers left in these lines there is a story here worth telling.

The Ballad of Margaret Rose   

People trek to the north
for reasons strange to me;
some run toward what’s better,
and some just have to flee.
Margaret Rose left her home
because her story went unhailed;
though she told it many times
it’s the gossip that prevailed.

 She was born in the Kootenays in ‘46.
She learned early to beat off backwoods hicks.
There wasn’t much love; boys ran the show;
girls and their dreams had nowhere to grow.

 Margaret Rose had a crush on her big brother’s friend;
His invitation out is where her troubles stemmed.
On the day of the date she drove into a ditch;
her face hit the steering wheel, her lip needed stitches.

She determined to go out, painkillers on hand,
 to be with the dream boy, injuries be damned.
she passed out in the car and without her cognition
that man took from her what she would have given.

 Upset with the lies and terrible advice;
she drove her Chevy North until the road turned to ice.
The engine sputtered at a hill in old Whitehorse town,
so she shifted into neutral and coasted the two miles  down.

 She was twenty-one and pregnant under the midnight sun
and folks back home did judge the things they thought she’d done.
But they were far away and she loved all that she could see.
She had no home, no friends, no lovers, but found a job at KFC.

 Nineteen Sixty-Eight was hard for a woman alone,
carrying a child a man wouldn‘t own;
but Margaret Rose wasn’t blue,
she had too much work and preparing to do.

 She wrote a letter to a man she used to know;
He flew up and the baby set his heart aglow.
He and Margaret Rose built a log house with muscle and sweat
that was soon filled with anger and too much regret.

Margaret Rose worked hard after her marriage died,
Night shifts as janitor helped her provide.
She cleaned the train station, a restaurant, and the disco bar,
her three children helped clean ashtrays and more.

 She and her friends drank the Sour Toe.
She fished the rivers and lakes and saw UFOs.
She had many boyfriends, but none of them lasted,
She strived to get rich but instead got shafted.

 You might wonder about this woman who ran away, 
but if she could tell you, this is what she’d say:

 When I finished with a mop and broom, 
I watched the northern lights from my living room.
I made my coffee bitter just the way I liked
before I shovelled the snow sent down in the night .

 But it was on Tuesday evenings, down at the ’98,
where there was a family of sorts with whom I could relate;
Joe played the fiddle, and Merv strummed the strings
And I, keeping time to the music, felt my heart had wings.



Fev-rocks said...

A beautiful and moving poem, showing that Margaret Rose was a devoted mum, who would do anything to keep food on the table, for her family and look after their well-being even in tough times. I think you should have won the competition. You have lovely flow to your writing, and great use of words to describe the scene. It was certainly worth the time you took to write it, as you can really see all the hard work, which you put into it. Great storying telling, as well as fine poetry! Much Love Paul OXOXOXOXO

bulletinfromthefringe said...

Thank you for your kind words Paul, and for taking the time to comment.

Marija said...

I agree~! Its one thing to write the story, another to have it be a poem. Many times you can loose emotion trying to set up the story in poetry, but you actually had me in tears! I related to Margaret in so many ways, it was more like reading a story.. and I felt the connection to her.. thank you for writing this awesome tribute.