Just the Facts
The facts of Dave Malone’s “Glory Days” go like this:
1. Children are picking up trash and weeding their lawn.
2. There is a bird bath that fell the night before, and the children pick it back up.
3. The birdbath fell because the father knocked it down.
4. The father was a star baseball player in high school.
5. The father claims Bruce Springsteen wrote “Glory Days” because of his baseball playing.
“The oldest knows this song as deeply/ as the sharp blade of the moon….” I circled “this song” and in the margins asked, “Which is ‘this song’? Bruce’s or the song of a father coming home after having too much to drink? Or is it the song of a person who was once great and is no longer? Or is it all three that make up the soundtrack of this girl’s childhood?
I too, had a family member who drank too much. He loved Jim Croce and the Rocky movies, and he designed his own logo for his very successful business. I can remember the night he showed my family. We’d finished dinner, but as it was back then, we always stuck around talking and laughing, and he pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and placed it on the table.
“This is so good,” my mom told him, and I remember his smile and how quiet we all were. Every time I hear or read Ollivander hand Harry Potter a wand with a core that came from the same phoenix as Voldemort’s wand and say: “He did great but terrible things.” I think of this person. Knowing all I know, I love him still.
Dave Malone’s “Glory Days” turns the facts of a broken human being into a poem, and it is not a happy poem, but it is a beautiful one. It is a poem that allows you to hold the memories of brokenness and broken people in the palm of your hand, like a baseball, and you are on the mound and the crowd is waiting to see what you’ll do with it, and you turn it all over slowly, feeling the stitches for just a moment longer before you wind up and throw.
Try It: Just the Facts
We are often bound by the hard facts of brokenness, and it seems there’s nothing to create from. However I noticed in Malone’s “Glory Days” that the facts increase in intensity, and he ends the poem by offering us an image that anchors while at the same time sets us off into the world.
This week consider writing down the facts of a memory that is hard. Choose four to five fact, and try to add to their intensity with each one you write. Then see if you can find some sort of anchoring image for the end, turning what is broken into poetry.
Browse writing prompts
I have been a fan of Callie Feyen’s writing for quite some time but I finished this book in almost one sitting. If you have ever been in 8th grade, fallen in love, had a best friend, or loved reading, you will love this book. As the mother of an 8th grader, my other genuine hope is that my son will one day have a teacher as gifted as Callie.