Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Never Told Anybody

In 1976 Kenneth Koch taught poetry writing at the American Nursing Home located at Avenue B and Fifth Street in New York City: "The students were all incapacitated in some way, by illness or old age. Most were in their seventies, eighties, and nineties.  They had worked as dry cleaners, messengers, short-order cooks, and domestic servants. A few had worked in offices and one had been an actress."
Here are a few of their poems:

The quietest time I ever remember in my life
  was when they took off my leg.

Another quiet time is when you're with someone
  you like
And you're making love.

And when I hit the number and won eight hundred
That was quiet, very quiet.

                                                      -Sam Rainey

Stenography is like a revelation.
Personal appearance is like a runner-up.
Because unless a stenographer looks as well
As the dictation she's taking
Her stenography is soon forgotten.

                                                      -Elsie Dikeman

I was always quiet
And my mother always had to send my sisters into the
To see what made me so quiet.

                                                        -Fred Richardson

I like green; I used to see so many greens
  on the farm.
I used to wear green, and sometimes my mother
  couldn't find me
Because I was green in the green.

                                                      -Mary Tkalec

I never told anybody that I drove away in a buggy
I never told anybody that I fell all the way downstairs-
  I'm still crippled today
I never told anybody that I made a lot of pickles
I never told anybody that I sent a letter to the President
I never told anybody that I was in an airplane just flying
  around the field
                                                      -Mary L. Jackson

When I was a little boy 
  and got beaten
It was quiet afterwards.

                                                       -George Johnson