DR EARL REUM’S “A PERSON / A PAPER / A PROMISE”
By Maan “Maggie” Villar
Saturday, February 23, 2013
You must be subjected to a life of hermitage if you have not watched or read the popular coming of age book which was made into a blockbuster hit “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, everyone indulging in pop culture and living in this highly civilized and post-capitalist era are talking about it. Well, I just wanted to include in my blog a copy of one of the poems which influenced and was quoted in the book and the film. The poem is called “A Person / A Paper / A Promise” by Dr. Earl Reum It is a succinct basis of the theme of this book. I was astounded at how the author was able to use simple words and uncomplicated life experiences to present something dark, something complex.
I was doing research on “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (the story, actors, author, societal context and commentary, and the historical backdrop of the story) being my usual control freak self when I read the poetry associated to the book. This one is my favorite, it is most underrated among the other related poems and is beautiful in its simple syntax and unfolding.
A PERSON / A PAPER / A PROMISE
Dr. Earl Reum
Once on yellow sheet of paper with green lines, he wrote a poem
and he called it “Spot”
because that was the name of his dog and that’s what it was all about
and his teacher gave him an “A” and a big gold star
and his mother hung it on the kitchen cupboard and showed it to his aunt
and that was the year his sister was born-and his parents kissed all the time
and the little girl around the corner sent him a postcard with a row of X’s on it
and his father tucked him into bed at night and was always there.
Then on a white sheet of paper with blue lines, he wrote another poem
and he called it “Autumn”
because that was the time of year and that’s what it was all about
and his teacher gave him an “A” and told him to write more clearly
and his mother told him not to hang it on the kitchen cupboard because it left marks
and that was the year his sister got glasses and his parents never kissed anymore
and the little girl around the corner laughed when he fell down with his bike
and his father didn’t tuck him in at night.
So, on another piece of paper torn from a notebook he wrote another poem
and he called it “Absolutely Nothing”
Because that’s what it was all about
and his teach gave him an “A” and a hard searching look
and he didn’t show it to his mother
and that was the year he caught his sister necking on the back porch
and the little girl around the corner wore too much make-up so that he laughed when he kissed her
but he kissed her anyway
and he tucked himself in bed at three AM with his father snoring loudly in the next room
Finally, on the inside of a matchbook he wrote another poem
and he called it “?” because that’s what it was all about
And he gave himself an “A” and a slash on each wrist and hung it on the bathroom mirror
Because he couldn’t make it to the kitchen.