Is that a poem in your pocket, or are you happy to see me?
April is National Poetry Month, with readings and celebrations across the country. Thursday is one of the most charming, if odd, festivities: It's the fourth annual Poem In Your Pocket Day.
The idea is that the pocket poem is for sharing. Carry it with you and read it, or show it, to friends and strangers. OK, you don't have to share with strangers. But maybe you have a big pocket -- maybe you can carry more than one copy, and quietly share the spares.
The Poets.org website has dozens of short poems formatted for your pocket, to print and fold and carry.
There are classic poems by Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau, as well as more recent poems by Marianne Moore and Shel Silverstein.
Of course, you don't have to use one of the pre-formatted poems. You can put any poem in your pocket -- say, "Call It Music," by U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine, which begins:
Some days I catch a rhythm, almost a song
in my own breath. I'm alone here
in Brooklyn Heights, late morning, the sky
above the St. George Hotel clear, clear
for New York, that is. The radio playing
"Bird Flight," Parker in his California
tragic voice fifty years ago, his faltering
"Lover Man" just before he crashed into chaos.
I would guess that outside the recording studio
in Burbank the sun was high above the jacarandas,
it was late March, the worst of yesterday's rain
had come and gone, the sky washed blue.
The rest of Levine's poem is here, at the Poetry Foundation, which has a vast library of poems new and old.
Happy Poem in your Pocket Day!
-- Carolyn Kellogg