Annie Boochever

alaskan, author, musician, educator

Poetry and Essays

 

I don’t consider myself an accomplished poet by a long shot, but poetry sure is a fun place to play. I have experimented with poems for readers of all ages, and a few have been published. Several are part of a larger collection in progress.

The link below will take you to the Young Adult Review Network’s (YARN) National Poetry Month’s Crossing the Country Line by Line poetry project. The project was designed to create a “genetic and geographic lineage” of poems crisscrossing the country. Sestina to Paul Allen’s Yacht was selected as Alaska’s contribution.

 

My Mom’s a Witch! © 2009

This poem is part of my ‘in-progress’ Halloween Collection for Middle Grade Readers. I wrote it because during many years as a teacher, one theme came up again and again. In fact it was a major theme in my novel, Bristol Bay Summer. What makes a ‘real’ family? The truth is, families come in all shapes and sizes but many young people feel marginalized if they don’t have two parents of opposite gender. Was my mother really a witch? No. (At least I don’t think so!) But I know a few kids whose mom’s said they were. I also know plenty of kids being raised by a single mom or dad, grandparent, two moms, two dads, older sibling, etc. So this one is for all of you!

 

My Mom’s a Witch!

By Annie Boochever © 2009

Previously published in Latitude, a supplement to the Juneau Empire

 

 

I wish it wasn’t so.

She doesn’t fly on a broom

Or have warts on her chin.

No nasty cackles,

She wouldn’t hurt a thing,

Isn’t evil or scary.

But it’s true, my mom’s a witch.

 

For years I didn’t know.

She was just my mom

Like everybody else’s.

Then I noticed,

When I stayed the night with Mary,

They didn’t have a crystal shrine,

Candles burning bright.

 

No one danced in the yard

When I stayed the night with Mary.

The full moon was nothing

But a full moon.

The trees near Mary’s house

Were there for shade, or maybe firewood,

Not for revelation.

 

One day I asked her.

“It’s true. I am a Wiccan.

Jane’s a Catholic. Rebecca’s a Jew.

I pray to nature,

Things all pure and good.

Air, fire, water, earth and spirit,

Keep things from harm.”

 

My mom’s a witch.

What do I tell my friends?

Will they listen when I tell them

Witches aren’t bad.

Or will they run and tease me

Because my mother worships nature

And burns a LOT of candles.

 

What would you do?

 

 

Donald and His Video Game: A Cautionary Tale ©2009

I don’t want to give them all away because I want you to buy the book when it’s finished, but here’s one more for anyone who is just a little obsessed with video games. I’m sure none of you are, but in case you know someone who is, you might want to share this one with them.

 

 

Donald and His Video Game: A Cautionary Tale

By Annie Boochever

Inspired by Jimmy Jet and His TV Set by Shel Silverstein

 

He played in the morning ‘till school had begun,

and then in the evening when classes were done

Our Donald would pause between levels to eat,

and grab a few moments of restless sleep.

 

Homework and bathing just got in the way.

Do his laundry?  Come on, Mom. There’s no time today!

His hair became sticky, matted and tangled.

His unwashed clothes were all rumpled and mangled.

 

On his molars a fuzz was beginning to grow.

But stop to brush them? Sorry, no.

His mother gave up with a cry of despair,

and even his friends began not to care.

 

All through the summer and into the fall

He did not bat a single ball

He did not fish or swim in the lake--

Get a life! Cried mother. For heaven’s sake!

 

It was Halloween night, in the dark and the gloom,

When Donald locked himself in his room.

To play the last level of the hardest game.

Tomorrow, he thought. They will all know my name.

 

Though Level 13 was almost won

Something creepy had just begun.

Happy he had solved the game at its source

He scarcely noticed the powerful force.

 

A force from the video screen not seen,

Pulled him in, no fight, no scream.

He traveled into the heart of the game

Where he kept on playing all the same.

 

From miles around the people came

To look at the boy in the video game.

All his friends were shocked to see

Donald displayed for eternity.

 

In time his mother got sick of the fuss,

From all the folks that were gawking thus.

She regretted her son’s untimely demise--

But maybe she could capitalize.

 

She thought of a scheme that was iron clad--

A way to reward the Olympiad.

A chance to gain poor Donald some fame,

Some money, and glory, and a little acclaim.

 

She ejected the game, Donald and all

Took it down to the store at the mall.

The rest is history, Donald’s a star.

The name of the game is “One Level Too Far!”

 

 

"A Promise Is a Promise” was written as a radio commentary for middle grade through adult listeners. I read it on KTOO, our local public radio station and it subsequently aired state-wide on Alaska News Nightly. It went on to win 1st Place in the 1999 Pacific Northwest Excellence in Journalism Competition, Commentary Division.

 

“A PROMISE IS A PROMISE”

Ann Boochever ©1998

“A promise is a promise,” I think to myself as I run my hands through the big bowl of blueberries. Their blue-black color intoxicates me. When I close my eyes tonight I know that color will sooth me to sleep. In a bowl of salted water, I sift and extract the stray worm, the occasional stem or leaf, and toss them aside. I lift a handful of berries and watch the water drain through my fingers leaving the berries behind.

While my hands work, my head is rich with the memory of our afternoon slog through muskeg up the mountain in search of the biggest blueberry patch. My mouth slips into a smile. I picture my dog as he bounded through the brush, a stop here and there to nibble along with us on the juicy, not-too-sweet-harvest. My husband and son sprawled high up in the middle of a meadow where we rested a few moments in the sun.

No one but I wanted this outing. Grumbles and excuses. For the first time in weeks the sun, though already weak and low in the horizon, shone over our spent garden. “It’s a good day to finish the deck.” “I want to stay home and play video games.” But unlike other days the protests fell on deaf ears. For even as they spoke, my family knew there was no way out. They had promised me this outing for my birthday. And, “a promise is a promise”.

As I have done each fall for 40 years, I slip the berries methodically into freezer bags. The blue swirls in my head, and my eyes cloud with tears. Another summer is over. The school year is upon us. Hectic schedules, appointments. I am a year older. I fasten each bag tightly and stack them in neat piles in the freezer.

In winter, when I bake the berries in a pie, everyone will remember our day on the mountain. How we groped through mud and slippery moss in search of a trail that kept disappearing. How we watched the deep blue pile get bigger and bigger in the pail. How we teased my son about eating more then he had saved. The sweet smells of fruit and rain and frosted leaves. The “chic, chic, chic,” of a chickadee. A dusting of new snow on a distant ridge. We will all remember a time when the only thing that mattered was our little family, together, high up on a mountain in the middle of a blueberry patch. We will all be a little closer, and I’m so thankful that “a promise is a promise”.