Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ron Koertge - Field Trip

Field Trip
Ron Koertge

They’re good kids, rich and sheltered. Dutifully
they hold the hand of the boy or girl beside them.

They file out of the library with their teacher,
and there’s Death eating a sandwich.

They can’t help but stare. He’s sitting right where
that raccoon was a couple of months ago.

Their teacher told them all about raccoons, a medium-
sized mammal whose original habitats were
deciduous forests.

“Who is that person?” asks Tyler who will never grow
up to be a senator and, in fact, will never grow up at all.

“Look at this!” the teacher cries pointing to an anthill
at her feet. The children stare politely at the raised mound

and the lines of workers, some carrying crumbs twice
their size, others the bodies of their fallen comrades.

© Ron Koertge. All rights reserved.

Like so many of the poets who come by these parts, Ron Koertge writes for adults as well as kids and teens. Field Trip is, for example, from a forthcoming adult collection due out in 2013, though it speaks to teens, too, and shows so much of what I love about his poetry: a quirky spin, great turns of phrase, humor, and keen observations passed on with brevity and clarity. I guess you'd say his writing makes me see with new eyes - I would never have come up with what he writes, but once I read it... yes, of course!

I first became hooked on Ron Koertge's poetry with Shakespeare Bats Cleanup - a score for me with its combination of poetry and baseball, two of my passions combined flawlessly. (Even before then, by the way, I'd had an important encounter with him!) I always enjoy the characters he creates, and I'm looking forward to his July release of Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses to see who I'll meet next. In the meantime, I'm happy to have met a new poem by Ron Koertge, and incredibly happy to have him here today as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday, Susan Taylor Brown shared In My Backyard. Tomorrow... Lee Wardlaw shares a catku (that'd be a cat haiku, by the way)! For more on 30 Poets/30 Days and ways to follow along, please click here.


tanita✿davis said...

My anthropomorphic image of Death is from Terry Pratchett, so his sandwich is black and white...

That's such an eerie and disturbing element to this perfectly ordinary poem about a field trip...

Man, I cannot wait to read the rest of this collection.

KateCoombs said...

What an amazingly cool poem! Shuddery, but such a great combination of the ordinary and the macabre. Plus, as a teacher, I love how he skewers those little teaching moments that tend to go in one ear and out the other. (And I love Shakespeare Bats Cleanup.)

Linda B said...

I like when one is just moving along & there's a sudden big bump in the road, not too hard on the car, but a big enough bump to tell you there was one. That is what this poem does. I am in a school that does tons of field trips, so my expectation was that oh, he's going to write a cool nature poem, & then "BUMP" that fourth line! Terrific, I'll look for the anthology. Thanks to Ron & Greg for the guest. (I loved the Shakespeare Bats Cleanup, too)

Amy LV said...

Wow. I'm rattled and happy about it, all at the same time. Whoa. Excited to check out more of Ron's work. Thank you. a.

Charles Waters said...

I'm with Amy LV on this one. Rattled and happy for sure. The lines:

“Who is that person?” asks Tyler who will never grow
up to be a senator and, in fact, will never grow up at all.