Yesterday's April PAD prompt was to take the title of a poem I especially like (by another poet) and change it. Then, with this new altered title, I was to write a poem. However, the prompt stated that the altered poem did NOT have to follow the same style as the original poet, though I could try if wanted to.
I was familiar with this kind of prompt. I did one like it in a class a few years ago, and I wrote many poems later on in the style of other poets. So, yesterday I decided to write a poem after John O'Hara's "The Day Lady Died" as I did for that first exercise in March 1998.
I'll post both poems here. First is yesterday's poem.
The Day My Son Died
It is 7 am in Manhattan Beach a Thursday
three days after Yom Kippur, yes
it is 1999 and I go downstairs to the laundry room
to fold the clothes left there for days
and think about the notice of my ex-father-in-law’s
death in the LA Times.
I’m wearing my purple chenille bathrobe
that I’ve had for years
and I fold for 20 minutes or so
before I realize no noise coming
from behind the closed bathroom door,
the room next to the laundry
where Paul should be, getting ready for work.
I go to his room
and the door is half open. I look inside
and it is dark. Then I look in the garage
and it appears he hasn’t left yet. His beige Volvo
is still there. I knock on the bathroom door.
And I go upstairs.
Bob is just putting on his shoes and socks,
almost ready to leave for work
and I tell him something is not right
and he stops what he is doing and
then we go back where I came from to the downstairs
long hall and Bob tries the bathroom door and
yells, Paul, open the door, open the door,
and he goes out to the garage and gets a screwdriver
and opens the door and goes inside
and when he comes out his face,
red with tears streaming down it, says it all.
He tells me Paul is dead, call 911
and I am shaking a lot by now and
leaning on the stair railing
and Bob holds me
while he whispers Paul is dead,
we whisper, our son, Paul is dead.
Here is the other version from March, 1998 (although I did a bit of editing today).
The Day JFK Died
It is late morning in El Segundo, a Friday
five days before Thanksgiving, yes
it is 1963 and I am sitting in my office
not working, just filing my fingernails.
It is a slow day.
I stand around my boss’ office
with the others
and listen to the news on the radio,
smoking another Marlboro
and sobbing into an
already worn out piece of Kleenex.
I leave work early
with the hordes of others.
By 3 pm the parking lot is empty.
The heat of the day hits me
as I walk over the black asphalt.
I start my Lady Bug, light a cigarette,
and begin the drive up the Coast.
The surfers, still out there without wetsuits,
paddle their boards to catch the next waves.
The children play quietly
with their pails and shovels in the sand.
I wait at the light at Culver Boulevard, and already
The Shack patio is full.
I pull into the Sand Dune lot and
go in to buy some Chevis
and a bottle of merlot – something
to keep us company
while we watch the news tonight.
My husband is already home. He greets me
with a hug. I lean on him
and we don’t say a word.
What more could we say about this day?