EPIC Poetry Group: Poet’s Corner — Bill of Rights, Turning in my keys, S’posed to be her valentine  

The twice-monthly Poet’s Corner is presented by the Edmonds-based EPIC Poetry Group.

Bill of Rights

I reserve the right to swim naked

Or to drown fully clothed

The right to a healthy breakfast

Or to bowlfuls of jelly bellies


To purple mountains’ majesty above my fruited cereal

To the pursuit of happiness and The American Scheme


The right to bare arms

And to bare feet and to unlotioned skin in the blazing sun


To right-mindedness

And left-handedness


To wellness and hell-raising

Bell ringing and bell bottoms

To “Bottoms Up!” and “Up your alley!”

To toasts and boast and marshmallow roasts

And coasting downhill with no hands


To the right to remain silent

Or very very loud when drunk


The right to hop into that classic ’93 Cayman green T-bird convertible

And drive like hell to Coeur d’Alene

With or without two beautiful women

Tom Fortin

-~ ~ ~ ~

Turning in my keys

No longer mine

That still, abandoned classroom, its door closed behind


This well-waxed route to the office smells familiar

Clean-up crews will strike tomorrow

Liberating moldy oranges, green baloney, curdled milk boxes

Sprung lockers soon as empty as this Senior Wing


Silence fills my footprints, not so much as a single squeaky sole

Eerie in this space so often clamorous

No bantered laughter, no one shouting “Asshole!”

Noisy decibels will rule again come September


Within my head a steady vivid stream expands

Decades of roll lists memorized, faces recognized, friendships forged

Sweet individual legacies of day by day growing

Riotous tales of masses being educated


Old bronze keys soon clatter onto a polished counter

Cold office shadows shift then grow dark

Blue main doors burst open into welcoming sunlight

New roads whisper, “Travel on, travel on…”

Tom Fortin

~ ~ ~ ~

S’posed to be her valentine  

S’posed to be her valentine

Just for her


Me so nervous in The Hitching Post

(Little one-horse  town’s

Only variety story)

Such a tiny candy department

So hard to find something

That my scraped-together handful

Of nickels, dimes, a couple of quarters

Could cover


She eyed me

That vicious, suspicious

Cranky old frizzy-headed clerk

Never trusting for a second

This little would-be shoplifter

Desperate in a way

She’d never understand


So much worse though

When that fateful day arrived

Me on the bus, red heart hidden in a small brown sack

My faint heart ticking, tighter and tighter

Stomach sick by lunch recess


My mind was clear though

I’d sneak into Room 17

Drop that box

Slink back out undetected

Catch my fevered breath


And Plan A worked smoothly until

That box-dropping moment

Became the heart-stopping part


A huge 10-pound chocolate monster

Scarlet, sparkling

Overflowed her sacred desk

Crushed my 10-year-old heart


My valentine’s dinner that night?  Barely touched

Mom just had to notice, had to ask

So how did it go today?

OK, I lied and moped off to my room

My gut still aching

Like I’d been punched


(It probably didn’t help

That I’d eaten all her chocolates

Riding back home on the bus…)

Tom Fortin

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Tom Fortin

About the poet:

I’m a longtime, retired high school and community college teacher with plenty of time now for “Fooling with Words.” My active interest in creating my own poetry was launched by that Bill Moyers-titled PBS series in 1998. And lately I enjoy becoming more public with my poetic attempts.

I love my present Lynnwood/Edmonds/Sno-King life. The vibrant artistic climate surrounding us here today fills my heart — and my poetic spirit — to overflowing.

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