A (Name) Poem

Jeanie Jordon was my girl. My squeeze. My better half. At least for a few weeks. To the best of my knowledge, we never held hands, and we certainly never kissed. We were thirteen.

For several consecutive years, I went to a music and arts camp an hour away from home. Two-weeks spent sleeping in stark and sterile dormitories; walking a lush, landscaped campus; exploring the majestic but ancient academic buildings of a prestigious Catholic boarding school—classes dismissed for the summer. The kids, representing a wide sampling of Maryland’s teenagers, were drawn to this magnet camp to fuel their devotion to the arts. Acting, drawing/painting, singing, and for me and the vast majority of the other kids at the camp, orchestral music.

My instrument was the viola. I started playing in grade school because my brother David did a few years before me. Music brought him a type of attention that I craved. Our family went to his winter and spring concerts. My parents questioned him about his music classes each week. They hired a teacher to provide private lessons. An enviable chunk of family energy and resources revolved around David’s musical progress. I jealously wanted a taste of this attention.

I doubt the viola was my first choice, but it was probably my only choice. There are a dozen other instruments that seem more appealing to me now, but the viola was the instrument I knew. And David’s out-grown beginner model sat unused and unsold in the closet awaiting the next kid, awaiting more action.

I never matched David’s skill with the viola. He was one of the strongest players in the orchestra each year. First-chair. The kind of kid who got to play a solo (if a viola player ever got a solo). I struggled to keep up, even with the languid progression of the public-school music program. I could never play fast enough, I couldn’t play in tune.

Whereas David guided his own music career, carefully planned, achieved with practice and skill, I was simply swept along in the current. David played in the county orchestra so I did too. David went to music camp so I followed. He received lessons from the some of the best teachers in the area, I did as well.

I sometimes wonder how I got into that camp. Everyone else had a level of talent that alluded me. I envision my parents appealing to the director “but he needs to do something this summer.” Although I didn’t especially like the practices and the lessons, I loved the camp. I made lots of friends.

Jeanie was in the acting program. I don’t recall any sort of play or performance, but there must have been one. I know I played in a concert the day my parents came to pick me up. I can’t remember meeting Jeanie’s parents either. Maybe I was laying low. Being shy.

I do, however, know what Jeanie looked like. I have a photo in an album that took my entire childhood to fill. An eight by ten of the smashed Volvo I was riding in when it collided head-on with a pickup truck. A Polaroid of my mother sitting on the beach, reading a book. Liz Something, the girl I “dated” during a different year at camp. A Halloween photo of me dressed as a hobo. Jeanie shares this company.

The only other thing I remember about her was her poem. Each camper was required to dabble in an art form different from their own—an elective. I played guitar. I learned to strum along with John Denver’s Country Roads and Helen Reddy’s Delta Dawn.

Jeanie took writing. She showed me a name poem she wrote about donuts. What’s a name poem? It’s a ridiculous genre of poetry where the first letter from each line spells out your name. Here are the first two lines of Jeanie’s poem:

Jelly is the donut, that I like the least.
Eggs are what goes into it and lots and lots of yeast.

There was more–the rest of her name–but that’s lost now, at least to me. I remember her the rhythm and the rhyme fell apart quickly after those two lines, but that first couplet was killer.

In my life, I’ve never written a name poem. This is what I thought about last night as I was trying to fall asleep. Usually, I drop off quickly, but there are times it takes a while. On these nights I reminisce. I dredge up long buried memories of unimportant things. Last night, I thought of Jeanie Jordon. Today I woke with the urge to write a name poem of my own.

I’m not a poet. It’s a medium I don’t well understand. But I try. I read the works of poets, bloggers, and analyze what they wrote. I’m learning to appreciate poetry.

I haven’t the patience to knock something out in iambic pentameter, which seems appropriate for this sort of naïve effort. I doubt I could produce something as fun as Jeanie’s donut poem. In short, I’d prefer to be judged on the prose that proceeds my poem.

Judgement Day’s upon us, the
end of things flesh and blood. Drop the
final curtain. What’s missing is the
fear. No one seems to care.

Trump: he sees it as a game.

Chicken. Who can stand the longest staring down the barrel of total
annihilation, or worse, survival. Permanent devastation by
North Korea v. DJ Trump after their
nonsensical nuclear exchange.

6 thoughts on “A (Name) Poem

  1. I’m with you, Jeff. I’m not much of a poet either and would much rather be judged on my prose. Here’s my one foolhardy attempt at poetry:


    I also appreciate the master poets on WordPress and elsewhere. But as you can tell, the closest I can come to poetry is a lyrical flow to my words and phrasing. I don’t know if I’ll ever try again… but then again, who knows what inspiration may come in the future?

    You did a great job on the rest of your post though. But then you always do!

    Happy writing! (Let’s just both try to keep our poetry to a minimum! 😊)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are too kind. All I did was write an image-laden story and put a few extra line breaks in it. 🙂

    I don’t know why it’s so hard, either. I am in awe of the poets who can make something so beautiful, so universal, and so unique all at the same time. They are truly masters of a special craft!

    Liked by 1 person

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