a bicycle and proclaims, “I want to crash and fall on my head. Bring on the broken bones.” No one puts a
cake in the oven hoping it will come out burned black and tasting like a hockey
puck. Likewise, people don’t get married because they want to get divorced. If they did, American Tuxedo would rent helmets.
marriage crashes or turns into a hockey puck, it isn’t because the partners
want it to happen. Divorce is like
volunteering for amputation without the anesthetic. Who would ever wish for
divorced. I was an adult when it happened, but that doesn’t mean it was easy on
me. My marriage also ended. Didn’t want
either one of these things to happen. Just did.
Today I can say, I am pretty glad things turned out as they did. I like my life. But, I can’t say, could never say, that I
wanted divorce to be part of who I am.
was the impetus for my poem, Wanted.
Today, that poem is wanted by teachers in Michigan as it (unpredictably)
is a component in their state standards.
The state didn’t choose to provide the poem to teachers for classroom
use, they just assigned it.
Unfortunately the book that originally contained the poem has gone out
of print. So teachers have been writing
to me (apologetically) asking for the text of the poem.
(and have) that divorce is no topic for kids’ poetry. Kids’ poetry should be about balloons rising,
spinning till you fall over, or castles in the air, in ancient times, in Spain. Anywhere
and anything except the dismemberment of the castle in which a kid currently
resides. It’s true that the poems that
pop out when pulling your finger out of your nose are funny (perfectly okay with editors) and a (ick)
represent a pretty universal experience, it’s also true that divorce
kid voice before I had anything published.
I had never been to a book fair or teacher’s conference where children’s
poetry was discussed. I didn’t know
writing kids’ poetry came with a set of rules having nothing to do with iambs,
quatrains or free verse. I didn’t know
there were topics that kids’ poets just didn’t write about, like divorce. Death
and war are okay topics, but only if they are old news, not breaking news.
suggested I divorce all my divorce poems from the others and make a book of
poems just on that topic. My response
was a big no to that idea. I mean,
seriously. Who would check that book out
of the library? After I wore that first editor out, the second one suggested
that since she had an intact marriage and so had her parents (lucky her,
exactly the opposite of my experience) that only certain kids would be able to
identify with the topic of divorce and therefore, poems on divorce should not
be included in any collection. “You have
a skewed perception based on your experience,” she told me, “Most kids are
neighborhood,” I said. True, I may be a
little askew, but what do I have except my own perception? From what I could see, divorce had touched
the lives of every kid I knew, if not their own parents, then a friend had moved
away, a cousin got squirrely, a friend wound up in tears at school, even grandparents have been known to split up. Besides, nobody as in NOBODY is happy all the
time. I got a third editor.
suggested when my book Am I Naturally this Crazy was published that I was
making light of kids’ feelings because I used rhyme in this particular poem. No rhymes allowed when speaking of
divorce to kids? Who wrote that rule?
banned in one district that I know of because not only did it contain a poem about divorce, but also about a current war (double whammy). Writing about divorce, a rather tight-lipped
librarian explained, meant I was “anti family values.” Did she mean I didn’t value my family because we spread ourselves over two houses? Where do people get these ideas?
words arranged in shortened lines can take on a life of their own. Since the
book this poem first appeared in is out of print, this particular word collection is
hard to find.
wanted to know about divorce, but I do want teachers and kids to have access to