From the diary: “November 23, 1981
“Rats! This is the last week of poetry [class] … Yesterday, Sunday, at Copperfield’s Books we had a poetry reading. Several of us from Analy and kids from other schools and grades got up and read our poetry. It was fun but I was nervous.
“[Poet-teacher] Zara [Altair] handed out copies of There is no roof in a pineapple. She had put together last Wednesday’s poetry into a book because she thought that day was such a success.”
I’d missed a class meeting or two because I’d had teeth extracted – the two lower wisdom teeth, two upper bicuspids – at the command of my new orthodontist. Soon, I was in for the real pain. Metal bands tightening in my mouth, drawing the teeth to where they didn’t wish to go. After slagging SEE sign I have to say it did here come in handy (so to speak) as when I was coming out of the anaesthesia at the oral surgeon’s my mother kept asking me questions, like How-do-you-feel and Can-you-walk and so forth. My mouth wasn’t going to be doing anything. So I signed to her. And sign classes were fresh enough in her mind she understood my fingerspelling. Yay! Later she forgot everything.
So, anyway, I was thrilled to be back and really sorry (for once!) to have missed school. The class exercise that resulted in There is no roof in a pineapple consisted of one pineapple rested on a stool in front of the teacher’s desk. Zara & Maureen read us example poems – Wallace Stevens’ “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” … My poem had a giant pineapple on a tropical island to whom a boy had been assigned as servant. The giant pineapple gives the boy a message to another giant fruit on another island. “Tell him,” says the pineapple, “I have a headache.”
The class busted up. Yeah, I knew it was a sex joke. But when I put the words down I was thinking about my migraines. If a creature that is all head, all giant head, has a headache – what a headache! Incidentally, OK, I was allowing for the sex joke.
I thought that little chapbook anthology (saddle sewn with a yellow thread!) was the bee’s knees. The book flopped open right to my poem, which was in the middle. A place of honor, I was told.
Meanwhile in my regular classes I was getting all As – except Advanced Composition, where I was getting a C-.