April is National Poetry Month: poetry 180

Billy Collins, inspired by his poem-a-day program with the Library of Congress, chose 180 contemporary poems for this anthology . The 180-degree turn refers to a turning back to poetry. " Flip through the book and pick a poem, any poem. I know every one is an ace, or at least a face card, because I personally rigged the deck." Billy Collins
Being faced with a book of aces or at least a queen or jack, you can well imagine the challenge I had choosing a poem from this anthology! I loved the idea of the following poem. The author identified threads of his life that was woven into a poetic autobiography.


I had everything and luck: Rings of smoke
blown for me; sunlight safe inside the leaves
of cottonwoods; pure, simple harmonies
of church music, echoes of slave songs; scraps
of candy wrappers-airborne. Everything.
Mother and father, brother, aunts, uncles;
chores and schoolwork and playtime. Everything.

I was given gloves against winter cold,
I was made to wear gloves when I gardened.
I was made to garden; taught to hold forks
in my left hand when cutting, in my right
when bringing food to my mouth. Everything.

I had clothes I was told not to wear outside;
a face you could clean up to almost handsome;
I had friends to fight with and secrets, spread
all over the neighborhood, the best teachers,
white and colored. I'm not making this up.
I knew that I had everything. Still do.

-G.E. Patterson

Mom, August 2009, Rockaway Beach, Oregon


  1. :) LOVE the photo of your mum...... the dam drunk lmfao hahahaha



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