- NYS Writers Institute
Poetry Friday: "The Dandelions are Everywhere"
For today's Poetry Friday post, we're sharing a poem by Daniel Gorman.
Daniel is one more than 70 poets, writers, and artists featured in newest edition of the Trolley journal we published online in July.
Below the poem you'll find a short question and answer with Daniel.
The Dandelions are Everywhere
by Daniel Gorman
life has become a two-months-long canvas
washed in watercolor still-lifes of the same rooms
image after image bleeding one into the next over and over and over again
the days are no longer demarcated by responsibility
what happened the day before
and why does it look so much
like the day before that?
I go looking for hope in a fourteen-inch screen
where the news rinses and repeats headlines
laundering coronavirus briefings for public consumption
while our president pats himself on the back
as he drags goal posts down a field where the scoreboard reads 90,000 to 0
I stare at screens
hoping to discover an end to quarantine
but there are no answers and little hope
and I decide that maybe what I need right now
is to add some color to the still life
before I go insane
so now I go on walks
I go on walks and I see a world wearing
a mask of normalcy,
obscuring quarantine’s subtle clues:
More dogs, more birds, more walkers, more hikers, more bikers
more patience, more distance,
more pollen collecting on the hoods of abandoned cars
more waves and nods from folks
who smile behind masks as they give six feet
I see basketball courts where backboards have been given nosejobs
The rims removed, a pre-existing condition covered during quarantine
Beautiful faces made ugly to encourage social distancing
There are no yards with sales, no strangers buzzing between discounted memories
nor driveways with lemonade stands
no children pulling up their boot straps to help pay the rent
its hard to stay positive, to make lemonade of these lemons
when the stands are extinct and the yards are overrun with dandelions
I sit in the grandstand
of a ball field where ballplayers are banned
not alone in my solitude
there’s a crowd already here
and it’s buzzing
and there are dandelions
golden florets blaze like a hundred thousand suns
White blow balls like supernova stars
ready to cast to the breeze constellations of seeds
a galaxy allowed to flourish in quarantine
winning the pandemic jackpot
carefully neglected lawns
their honeycombs bursting with dandelion payloads
and it is here at this field,
where hope finds me
I pluck a sun and hold it to my chin
but there is no one here to read my fortune
so I pluck a cloud and remember childhood games
ask a question get an answer
Seeds like leaping dancers fly off with my wish
and I am light as a feather
my hope restored
I return home
to my still life
is the same
But not forever
A dandelion told me so.
Daniel Gorman lives in Albany and graduated from the University at Albany, Class of 2010.
He's a teacher and aspiring writer has participated in the NYS Writers Institute creative writing workshop with James Lasdun as well as the poetry workshop with D Colin.
What did you study at UAlbany?
I studied English as an undergraduate. While I was there I really began to take writing more seriously thanks to Lynne Tillman's creative writing workshop, Edward Schwarzschild's "Contemporary Writers at Work" class, and Stephen North's Hard-Boiled Detective Fiction course. And I can't express how important Helen Elam's influence was in reintroducing me to poetry.
As a returning student who took ten years to figure out what he wanted to be when he grew up, I truly cherished my time at SUNY Albany, and when the world was not under quarantine made it a point to come back from time to time to visit and remember my great experiences.
What are you doing to stay creative during quarantine?
I write daily, and read as often as I can. Between journaling, short story writing, participating in writing competitions, and working on an unfinished novel (as is required of every English teacher, I believe), I have been able to keep the creative juices flowing more or less at a steady pace.
I haven't completed my King Lear as Shakespeare is supposed to have done during quarantine, but I've been able to keep busy.
What was the spark that helped you write your "Dandelions" poem?
I'd say what sparked the writing of my poem was the need for another creative outlet and a chance to leave my comfort zone. Poetry is new to me, but I am someone who enjoys being challenged.
As for the content, I go on long walks as a way to clear my head when I'm trying to solve a writing problem. I just took a notepad with me and noted how the world looked the same, but with all the subtle differences one might not notice if they weren't aware of the fact that we were in a quarantine.
You’re a teacher at Holy Spirit School in Albany, what do you teach?
I teach library and technology to kids pre-k through 8th grade. (Though as of this writing, my position at the school has been dissolved due to COVID.)
Any advice for students and the rest of us for coping with a pandemic?
Write in a journal. Keep a record of these times, and dump any anxieties you have onto the page.
Go on hours-long walks without your phone and really observe the world; it is amazing how quickly the storm in your mind calms down when you disconnect from the world for a while.
Write letters to people—it is such a more intimate way of communicating that we really need to get back to.
Read, read, read, and if you have something you want to write, whether it is poetry or that novel you've always wanted to tackle but have been too afraid to try, in the words of David Weber, "Just write the damn thing." But most importantly, write every single day.
Thank you for reading and best wishes for a relaxing weekend.
You can find more poems, essays, and short fiction at the NYS Writers Institute's Trolley journal.