Xeno Hemlock


The Before Before The Befores (Mi Madonna, Este Es Mi)

Before I drafted a novel, I wrote an essay.
Before I chose the essay, I picked the short story.
Before I made up the story, I sang poetry.
Before I played with rhyme, I made a fan fiction.
Before I pleased co-fans, I jotted a lyric.
Before penning a lyric, my friend was a notebook.
Before my notebook, I used a sketchpad.
On my sketchpad were my strange and out-of-this-world friends.
Before my sketchpad was my colouring book.
And with my colouring book was a box of crayons.
With the crayons I ruined lines, brown, blue, and red.

Before I read Kawasaki, I read Jeff Gerke.
Before I met Gerke, I read Harry.
No, not Mr. Potter. That was earlier.
I meant Wizard Dresden by Jim Butcher.
With Alan Axelrod, I was excited.
And with Twain, I was delighted.
I joined Percy recover the lightning.
This was after Hogwarts by Ms. Rowling.
I was a mutant many years ago.
Then I went to Riverdale because I wanted snow.
Near my pillow, slept the Alps' young Heidi.
In my book shelf, classics retold by Disney.

Before style, there was grammar.
Before grammar, there was vocabulary.
Before vocabulary, there was style.
“Well, I'm not sure which went first really. If we try to figure it out, we'll be here for a while.”
Let's resume to where we were before.
Wait, now you're asking who am I writing for?
For myself, yes lad, I'm quite selfish.
Don't mistake this for my being standoffish.
Before Oxford and Writer's Digest
I was on a “Save the Muse!” quest.
We'll be up all night if I discuss
How this calling rose from tears to dust.
Did you know there's a Muse unsung?
She goes way back when I was very young.

No money to afford rich kids' toys.
My wishes, unheard. I had a powerless voice.
Instead, on the cold floor would drop.
Things that immediately brought me to stop.
Curious, I would go and inspect
My new companions that demanded respect.
Oh, it's the Beast! Oh, it's Miss Beauty!
There's Clara, Grandmama, and Aunt Dete.
The spine of my friends were covered in gold.
They're young but their stories were old.
Connect-the-dots. Crayons filled the outlines.
Betraying the guides, I broke the confines.
The blank pads, some had lines, some had none.
With my pen their emptiness would soon be gone.
My young mind to English would soon be familiar.
With those tools my thinking would become peculiar.

This Muse helped shape me to write like I do today.
Mi Madonna, este es mi regalo para su cumpleaños.
Muchas gracias Google. Is my Spanish broken?
Behold my readers! I lay this out in the open.
Long time before today, I was an only child.
My mother bought books so I would not grow up wild.
But she was wrong. A wild man wrote this poem today.
An ode for the unsung Muse who paved the way.
Before I knew the Virgin or the popstar Madonna
I knew only one, she was my Madonna.
For many nights she brought home books that would make a writer.
From your son, here's a gift. Happy birthday, my Mother!

Cover image: Willow at Raven Creek by Donnie Nunley