Thursday, December 3, 2015

Poetry Helps Us Love Life

Buffy Silverman hosts at Buffy's Blog for Poetry Friday this time. She shares about her experience on a service learning trip to Guatemala, with a poem and special pictures of that time, too. It's great to read what everyone shares, poetry to lighten our day.

         I read this poem earlier in the week. I enjoyed it then, and I like it even better today. Now, after this past week, I am grateful for poems that make me smile, sometimes belly laugh. They also make me think and appreciate the way poets look at life with meaning, offering a lift to low spirits, a new path for minds to follow.  Sometimes there's a message that makes one say, "Agreed!", too.

         John Updike's poem, Tools begins:

Tell me, how do the manufacturers of tools
turn a profit? I have used the same clawed hammer
for forty years. The screwdriver misted with rust
once slipped into my young hand, a new householder’s.


         And the rest is here.

My grandfather's level and icepick, in my toolbox.

36 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this poem, Linda. It made me smile, too. I esepcially like: 'the carpenter’s angle, still absolutely right though I
    have strayed;'

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    1. So glad you liked it, Sally. I was so pleased when I read it. Thanks.

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  2. As the wife of a carpenter who treasures his ancient tools, I laughed when I read this. How do they make money? I'm pretty sure it's the endless need these men have for wandering hardware stores in search of more stash. Thank you for sharing this!

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    1. Fun to hear about your husband, Kimberley. Many of the tools are now passed on to my children, but I kept a few treasured ones, too.

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  3. "Wastrel!"
    Haven't heard/read that word in too long, Linda.
    Appreciations for sharing this.

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    1. Thanks, Jan, wonder how many know that word?

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  4. Ha! Our son is new in the electrical field, so I have spent some time lately with him perusing the tool aisle at Home Depot... and, once upon a time, I worked in the tool department at Sears! Thanks for sharing, Linda. xo

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    1. And now we know that Home Depot and others like it is thriving. I do wonder how many hammers one must have? Thanks, Irene, for sharing your story, too.

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  5. Linda, now here are the telling lines:
    Their stubborn shapes pervade the cellar,
    enduring with a thrift that shames our wastrel lives.
    Thanks for sharing the poem.

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    1. You're welcome, Carol. Yes, the message at the end is clear, but I enjoyed getting to it, too.

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  6. Thanks for posting this Updike poem, new to me, and a good one. I prefer his poetry to his novels. And yes, we need poetry to uplift us! And it does! :)

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    1. You're welcome, Jane. Happy that it is new to you and you enjoyed it.

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  7. Thanks Linda for a utilitarian post. Having spent many a Saturday roaming the aisles of hardware stores, each tool is a friend. As one friend once commented, "Ace, Lowes and Home Dept. would go out of business if my husband got sick and couldn't make his weekend rounds."

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    1. Is that how it goes, Joy? Arvie had so many tools passed down from his dad and grandfathers that he rarely had to purchase anything. On the other hand, there were those tool chests and electric tools. . . Funny words from your friend!

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  8. Thank you so much for sharing the Updike poem and your photo. So funny! Earlier this week, I was thinking about being a little girl "messing around" in my grandfather's shop, using vise, level, hammer, nails, and small saw to make little odds-and-ends, especially little sail boats. Didn't touch tools again until a few years ago when my mother died and I inherited my parents' little retirement home. Until that summer, when I heard "Lows" I thought only of Loews movie theater. Amazing to discover that Lowes was a super hardware store. Became daily customer, thanking God for men and women who took pity on my ignorance. Gave me a good story to tell in response to our first department meeting "circle round": Tell us, what did you do this summer?...Thanks for the reminders! Love your grandfather's tools, and that you have incorporated them into your toolbox. Wish I had something of what I crafted all those decades ago...Maybe that's why I so love things made of wood, even though I can't fashion them! God bless you.

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    1. I love hearing the stories that this poem brings. Thank you for telling yours, too!

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  9. This is one of those "oh yeah!" poems -- making me grateful for the unique way poets look at everyday things. It's so true about tools, my husband LOVES them and has quite a collection in the basement, some from his Dad, and they're still quite usable and carry a unique history just like your grandfather's tools. A good set of tools lasts forever!

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    1. Oh, Jama, love that "oh yeah!" I won't soon forget it, and may steal it from you, at least for a file folder label. The poems that bring forth memories are favorites. Thanks for sharing about your husband's collection.

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  10. So true, Linda! (Though I did just buy my hubby a new chisel for Christmas. Don't tell.)

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    1. Perhaps chisels wear out (down?), Michelle. I don't know. But you've reminded me that in our younger years, Arvie's father always gave some kind of tool to the families. Important stuff!

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  11. Linda, That poem made me laugh earlier in the week and I couldn't believe who wrote it. Updike always seems so very serious.

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    1. And this has a number of layers, don't you think, a bit soulful in its humor. He does have other sides too I think. Thanks, Bernadette.

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  12. Ah, a fellow writer's almanac subscriber! This one made me smile too--and I meant to share it with my Updike/tool-loving spouse, so happy to see it again!

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    1. Yes, the Writer's Almanac is not to be missed. Don't forget to share this time, Buffy.

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  13. "Obliviously, tools wait to be used" As a family with organizational dysfunction, I can't tell you how many times I've purchased set of screwdrivers. I can't fix my loosened doorplate because I can't find a Phillips-head anywhere! It's nice to know these tools may be waiting for me...somewhere...

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    1. Ha! Fun to hear, Diane. May you always find that 'right' tool when needed from now on!

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  14. We have a number of old tools, collected by Scott at yard sales. I love their wooden handles, and the way they just look so strong, so ready for work. Such an unusual poem!

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    1. I did connect to it strongly, Tara, because I do have so many old ones from Arvie's family & from mine, I guess. And there are a number of things that I wonder about as to why people need new ones? I like those handles, too, and know who held them!

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  15. And then there are the new tools -- two sets I bought for Genius Hour/Makers' Space in my classroom, and they joy of watching kids discover how they might use them!

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    1. Yes, a new poem emerges, right? Thanks, Mary Lee.

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  16. Love this droll and wise poem. I especially like the way Updike keeps us off balance when he jumps from the strictly physical to the ethereal and back again.

    The poem also reminds me of my father-in-law's shop. He had a tool for everything and duplicates of most of them. So often when he needed one, he forgot he already had it and went out to buy another. Of course he also had to do that when they were on sale. I don't think he learned the lesson Updike wanted tools to teach!

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    1. In some eyes, perhaps particularly men, there's always another tool that's better, or is specific to some use. But I am reminded of the quilters in my family who had quite a stockpile of fabric. I do love Updike's response to life in the specific, then the general. Thanks, Violet.

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  17. I love the photo you took, Linda, and the little shadow of each of your grandfather's tools. They last so long, I guess, because they're designed for hard labor, unlike a ladies' dress or a ballpoint pen.

    Here's a link to possibly my favorite tool-related thing ever: http://www.cooperhewitt.org/2014/11/25/damian-ortega-on-controller-of-the-universe/

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    1. Thanks Heidi, I'm glad you noticed the shadow. I thought it meant that they leave a shadow from time, too. Thanks for the link. The installation is awesome. I've sent it to my daughter who works at the Museum of Contemporary Art here in Denver. She'll love it!

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  18. Thanks for the smile, Linda, albeit a bit after Poetry Friday. =)

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    1. Anytime, Bridget. Glad you enjoyed this!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!