The Hocking Hills Festival of Poetry



Adolescent Love

          During the end of my career as a sixth grade teacher I decided to educate my male students in the arts of romance. Not that I was such a great Romeo, but that I was old enough to have made and reflected upon most of the mistakes it is possible to make in this arena.

          Poetry has always been the language of love, so I of course thought to use a poem to open the door to the conversation. I asked the boys in my class: “If you are talking to a girl you are interested in, do you think she’d rather hear your latest Nintendo high scores, or the words of the Chilean Nobelist, Pablo Neruda ?

I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains, bluebells,

Dark hazels, and rustic baskets of kisses.

I want

to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees. 

          The response was inevitably the same. Lots of wrinkled brows, a few hmmms, whispers from the girls, “Cherry trees! Cherry trees!”, and finally their answer:  “Nintendo.”

          Poets are shaped by experience, and these young men must learn their lessons like I did, and Neruda before me. And some future day, when they too have hopefully blossomed, their poems may express what life has taught to them.