Friday, October 19, 2007
Poetry Friday: Credo
I don’t believe in making your bed,
Unless of course, company is coming
And only then, if you are sure
They will be coming upstairs.
I don’t believe in swallowing bugs, or criticism,
Except of course, if they are ants, or backhanded
Compliments, which can be nutritious,
As long as they don’t criticize
your teeth on the way down.
I don’t believe in any form of sugar
For breakfast, except Frosted Flakes eaten
Dry, and large blueberries that have been properly
Worshiped, with both your eyes,
For at least ten minutes.
I don’t believe in painting your fingernails
Any dark color that will chip
Before dinner, unless, of course, it is after
Dinner, the taco sauce has been put away and
Someone else, who you have invited upstairs to
View your unmade bed, is painting them
For you, and wearing a red kimono.
I don’t believe in sleeping with the lights on,
Even if you are terrified, because lights will attract
Robbers (or criticism) which you will then have to throw
Out of your unmade house (or swallow.)
I don’t believe in saying what you really think,
Unless it is to yourself, in the mirror, with both your
Eyes, and only then, if you have consumed no
Compliments for breakfast.
I don’t believe in packing for a trip,
Unless you fully intend to stay
Home, and even then, you should never pack
Slippers and you must always lie
When asked whether you left
The lights on.
I don’t believe in lying, either,
Except between the edges of one drawn breath and
The next, one rapid blink, one twisting of your scaled
Toe into the pile of the carpet and then you must
Stop and say what you really think.
I don’t believe in washing a shirt that has only been worn
Once, except of course, if you have leaned
Against the counter, which had taco sauce on it, or if
You were wearing it while your company
Packed your slippers.
I don’t believe in stirring up trouble,
Unless of course, it is 3:06 AM, and you notice scales
Forming–up to your kneecaps–and it’s too early to
Admire blueberries and you realize
The red kimono, which the robber
Wore, is missing.
I don’t believe in poetry, either,
Unless of course, you want to write some
In an unmade bed, with a pen between your
Burgundy fingernails (chipped)
Munching on Frosted Flakes,
In a taco sauce stained shirt, with all the lights
On, lying through your much-criticized
Teeth, just before you pack your suitcase
Full of what you really think.
---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)
* Credo means "I believe." I wrote this poem after hearing several people toss off the phrase "I don't believe in..." and they weren't talking about theology. They were discussing topics like wearing synthetic socks or buying things not on sale or giving a child a binky. When I started riffing on the phrase, I wound up writing a poem not so much about particular beliefs or non-beliefs, but about how complicated our personal creeds are. How did we draw those lines we won't cross? What are our exceptions? If we had to explain ourselves, could we do it? For further inspiration, try a Google search on: "I don't believe in..." Some things that turned up: polls, the death penalty, failure, God, love, atheists, first grade, hell and walled gardens. You can also search on "how to write a credo."
Poetry Friday is hosted this week by Kelly Fineman