Where did you go that hot September day,
as President McKinley lay, allegedly recovering,
with an assassin’s bullet raging deep in his body?
O, Teddy! You took your cowboy
self hiking up the highest mountain in New York.
You hauled that exuberance of yours right up Mt. Marcy,
embracing the “strenuous life.”
O Teddy! Were you still running from the cruel asthma
attacks you suffered in your boyhood,
those night terrors of suffocation?
Or were you climbing to build muscle and courage,
steeling yourself for what the future might bring? You said,
“It was a dreadful thing to come into the presidency this way.”
And I believe it was.
Yet. O, Teddy. Yet.
You leaned into it. Took charge. Walked softly and carried
a big stick. You came alive with the thrumming heartbeats
of smudge-faced coal workers, of downtrodden
ragamuffins laboring in textile mills. You became the trust-busted
railroads and the Panama Canal, the wind caves
and cratered lakes, the devil’s towers and petrified forests
fighting against oblivion at the hands of greedy corporations.
You were the exhausted redwoods, alpine meadows,
peregrine falcons and golden eagles
seeking safe haven in which to flourish.
You were the quintessential man, O Teddy.
Don’t flinch. I know you hated the nickname, but I mean it
as a term of endearment. You rode in the saddle, drove cattle, hunted
big game. You collected insects and watched birds.
By god. You even captured an outlaw. You were a war hero,
Lieutenant Colonel of the Rough Riders – I salute you! –
in the Spanish-American War. A true progressive, ahead of your time.
After all was said and done, your face was carved into
Mt. Rushmore, indefatigable and indelible. Towering there, unrelenting
champion of the disenfranchised – the children, the poor, the brown man,
the immigrant, the forests, the streams – you seem troubled
by today’s political maelstrom. I wonder, did the thousands of books
you read in multiple languages inform you, make you expansive?
O, Teddy! You found the time – and the heart — for it all.
“POETRY” Invitation: I invite you to write a poem of any poetic form on your own blog about a particular travel destination. Or you can write about travel in general. Concentrate on any intention you set for your poetry.
In this case, my intention was to write an apostrophe poem about some aspect of my trip to Buffalo and Niagara Falls. An apostrophe poem addresses a dead or absent person; it can also address an abstract concept, like love, a place, or even a thing, like the sun or the stars.
I was inspired to address our nation’s 26th president after visiting the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site in Buffalo. I was awed by this site, and learned much I hadn’t known before. Teddy, as the President was often called (much to his annoyance), came alive for me here as he never had during my school days. The more I learned of him, the more I admired. I loved the story of how he came into the presidency after President McKinley’s assassination. And I found interesting parallels between the issues we face today and the issues he faced as President in 1901.
You can either set your own poetic intentions, or use one of the prompts I’ve listed on this page: writing prompts: poetry. (This page is a work in process). You can also include photos, of course.
Include the link in the comments below by Thursday, January 3 at 1:00 p.m. EST. When I write my post in response to this challenge on Friday, January 4, I’ll include your links in that post.
This will be an ongoing invitation, on the first Friday of each month. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂
I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!