College Poem Ruminated on Winter, Parenthood
The snow keeps falling in our part of the world. What had gotten sloppy and root-beer slushy in the weeks double-digit subzero temps had kept us shut inside is now great mounds of white again. And I’ve been rummaging around inside, through drawers and shelves and boxes, trying to dig up one particular journal from my undergrad days.
It was a notebook from my sophomore year. I think it was green and had Marvin the Martian cartoons all over it. Bound by an elastic cord, also green. Somewhere in its pages I’d pasted a newspaper photo of a kid chomping off a snowman’s nose that I’d discovered over winter break back at home.
I was taking Poetry 1 that semester, and around about February, as a particularly heavy blizzard of ’96 dumped drifts and cold on Pittsburgh, PA, I spun off some lines about a dad and a daughter making the best of it and fashioning a snowman that borrowed most of its attire from Dad’s closet.
I found myself thinking about that poem the last few weeks during a winter that seems unusually oppressive. If you feel that way about winter, that is. The snow can be lovely, the cold exhilarating, I guess, in the way that it makes you appreciate the cozy indoors.
These days, maybe, we’re feeling a bit too shut in. The wife, and three boys, and dog and cat and I. And I’d welcome a break from the slop and mud and icy feet and ears.
I never did end up unearthing the journal in which I’d pasted that pic, though the poem itself was easily found on an old thumbdrive holding the contents of an even older computer (my Power Mac 7100, baby!). I wasn’t going to post it, though, with some lame, posed stock photo. And then, today, took me about six seconds to search and find the exact same photo, printed in The Wilkes Barre Times Leader from Jan. 5, 1996 — which meant it probably hit the AP wire and my own Times-Reporter of New Philadelphia, Ohio, about the same time.
I wrote the verses below when I was 19. Just like movies and books and TV shows you watched before parenthood take on a different meaning when you’ve had kids, I read these lines from a different vantage point at 42, with sons. Some of the sentiment there, in this pretend dad, is maybe on point. The imagined attachment to the suit coat and pipe and golf clubs isn’t me — well, unless they got hold of one of my watches, maybe. And I wouldn’t munch the carrot in private — I’d do it in front of them, with them, for a laugh. Let them join in. Keep a few spares handy.
But if, in our godly dominion over the snowmen we create, we can somehow take a bite back at winter, give it some of our own wrath in return? Yeah, I’d take it.
Wrath of the Gods
Wrath of the Gods
by Colt Foutz
We had finally finished him
there in the yard
and my mittens were soaked from working so hard.
For damn near an hour
I’d rolled and I’d packed
creating a snowman while breaking my back
And had gotten the smile
that spelled my relief in
the breath that escaped through my daughter’s teeth.
“I love him, He’s Bernie!”
she wrote in the snow
and I have to admit as I turned to go
That Bernie was dandy
quite dapper indeed
even wearing a suit that I
And his scarf was the finest
purple silk? yessiree,
which I, vaguely
remember from my anniversary
And if my wife frowns on that, well,
a tit for a tat
Buddy Bernie is sporting my
I shouldn’t complain though
my daughter did suffer
when I balked at my pipe, she whipped out
darling dear daughter had said
“smoking would probably melt Bernie’s head!”
Oh my, gee, oh no
Well now that would be sad, though
his bare chest is covered with a suit from my dad
He’s passed on, god bless him
so I guess it’s okay
to shrink a snow chest with Armani gray.
And what single snow babe
could stand to resist
the golf clubs for arms that beckon a kiss?
Not me, if I was one
They’re both fairway woods
“It’s time to go.”
“You go on ahead, dear”
I kissed her gloved hand
“I’ve got a few words for this guy-
man to man.”
She snort-grinned at that one
“Oh daddy you’re SILLY”
and she scampered for home, leaving me
with Sir Chilly.
Deftly, I leaned in
and whispered to him
my fondest affections, and how fun he’d been
And I told him a secret:
“Though I don’t like them raw
crunchy orange carrots are the treat for my jaw!”
And if memory doesn’t fade me
though these days it might
I swear those coal eyes were wide with black fright
as I bid him farewell
and a many cold snows
And with empty, starved stomach
chomped off his nose.