Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mail Pouch

Mail Pouch

After the painted words wash away
from the side of a barn,
the wood still says Chew MAIL POUCH
Tobacco where the letters
had held on for fifty years, talking
to the road, to cars driving
and not stopping. The barn remembers
the message that had shielded
it, as a wall recalls in ghostly outline
the framed pictures
that lived there so long. The wall and wood
used to look like the patches
beneath the paintings and paint, the places
where the material stayed
young for the longest. We open memories
like umbrellas, keeping them
until we can’t, when the shielded parts
of us step out and speak.


  1. A fine poem from the first, but it steps out with a vengeance in those last four lines. Telling image.

  2. No matter how amazingly well you write, and no matter how much I enjoyed this poem, I absolutely refuse to chew Mail Pouch.

  3. We open memories like umbrellas...keeping them until we can't---I wished I had written those lines. Bravo, H.

  4. This has particular recall for me. I'm almost afraid to say it: My father chewed Mail Pouch. My mother would send away every month to Pennsylvania and this big brown package would arrive in the mail. All of us children were disgusted by Dad's habit and, fortunately, unlike cigarettes, we were not exposed to second-hand smoke. Many people never knew Dad had the stuff in his mouth; he could be so discrete.

    I like your poem very much, not because of what it calls back into memory, but because of the truth it speaks.

  5. Lovely imagery Hannah. I always enjoy seeing those old faded ads on road trips.

  6. I love the evocative physical imagery of the first half or so of this poem, almost as if time itself is slowly surfacing in this old wood. It is elegiac and sharp. But I think the poem ends for me after "the framed pictures." The rest is explanation and "moral." What if you let the imagery speak for itself and trusted the readers to understand? If you did that, this would be quick and sleek and profoundly more effective, I think.

    (I'm not sure exactly what you are looking for in comments. Some poetry bloggers only want an audience and don't take kindly to "critique" -- if I have overstepped the bounds, I apologize. It's just that I think your poems are good enough to merit the attention. I can see how stunning they might be, pared down a bit.)

  7. I really like the faded image of the words on the barn. Very nice.


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