I Got a Pocket, Got a Pocket Full of … Poems?

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There are many reasons April is one of my favorite months — free Ben & Jerry’s, the return of sundresses, the fact that everyone is just so happy all the time. With all of these great things going on, you might not know that April is National Poetry Month. As part of this celebration, the Academy of American Poets designates one day of the month as “Poem in Your Pocket Day” — the idea is to carry a favorite poem in your pocket all day long in order to share it with everyone you encounter.

In my high school, this was a big deal because anyone with a poem in their pocket got to shirk their uniform for the day and dress down. Though I haven’t had to worry about dress code in two years, I still celebrate this day out of pure love for poetry and I think you should too.

“But wait!” you say, excited and scared. “I don’t know which poem to carry in my pocket!” Thankfully, I’m here to help with a few favorites.

Here’s one by the famous and fantastic John Keats:

When I have fears that I may cease to be

Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,

Before high piled books, in charact’ry,

Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;

When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,

Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,

And think that I may never live to trace

Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;

And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!

That I shall never look upon thee more,

Never have relish in the faery power

Of unreflecting love!—then on the shore

Of the wide world I stand alone, and think

Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink

If Romantic poetry isn’t your thing, I’ll give you a hand at decoding the text. Keats is expressing his biggest fear: dying young, before he’s learned and loved as much as he wants. This poem is much sadder when you find out that Keats did die young, largely viewing himself as a failure.

If you want something a bit more out there, my friend and I were obsessed with this very odd poem called “Maybe Dats Your Pwoblem Too” by Randy Johnson, about none other than Spiderman.

All my pwoblems
who knows, maybe evwybody’s pwoblems
is due to da fact, due to da awful twuth
dat I am SPIDERMAN.

I know. I know. All da dumb jokes:
No flies on you, ha ha,
and da ones about what do I do wit all
doze extwa legs in bed. Well, dat’s funny yeah.
But you twy being
SPIDERMAN for a month or two. Go ahead.

You get doze cwazy calls fwom da
Gubbener askin you to twap some booglar who’s
only twying to wip off color T.V. sets.
Now, what do I cawre about T.V. sets?
But I pull on da suit, da stinkin suit,
wit da sucker cups on da fingers,
and get my wopes and wittle bundle of
equipment and den I go flying like cwazy
acwoss da town fwom woof top to woof top.

Till der he is. Some poor dumb color T.V. slob
and I fall on him and we westle a widdle
until I get him all woped. So big deal.

You tink when you SPIDERMAN
der’s sometin big going to happen to you.
Well, I tell you what. It don’t happen dat way.
Nuttin happens.Gubbener calls, I go.
Bwing him to powice, Gubbener calls again,
like dat over and over.

I tink I twy sometin diffunt. I tink I twy
sometin excitin like wacing cawrs. Sometin to make
my heart beat at a difwent wate.
But den you just can’t quit being sometin like
SPIDERMAN.
You SPIDERMAN for life. Fowever.  I can’t even
buin my suit. It won’t buin. It’s fwame wesistent.
So maybe dat’s youwr pwoblem too, who knows.
Maybe dat’s da whole pwoblem wif evwytin.
Nobody can buin der suits, dey all fwame wesistent.
Who knows?
 

Yeah, that’s an odd one.

This Thursday, I’m planning on carrying “10 Honest Thoughts on Being Loved by a Skinny Boy” by Rachel Wiley in my pocket:

But whatever poem you choose, just pick one and share it all day long. From Jay-Z lyrics to nursery rhymes to strange haikus, it’s a day to celebrate all of the lyrical twists and turns that make us uniquely human.

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