by Dennis Dalman – email@example.com
It’s not every day (or night) that a miserable case of the flu inspires a poem, but that’s what happened to Wilhelmina Moos of Sartell.
Deep in the middle of the night of Jan. 8, Moos was tossing and turning, unable to sleep, coughing, wheezing, sniffling and feeling like she was about to breathe her last. Words kept stumbling through her head as she groped for ways to describe such flu-borne misery. All of a sudden, her parade of words began to rhyme. The rhymes then settled themselves into a poem.
She wrote down the poem, which she called “Ode to the Yuckies,” a good example of misery redeemed by humor. The poem is written from the point of view of two of Moos’ adopted teenage daughters, Jackie and Brooke, who were also suffering from a terrible bout with the flu. Here is the poem:
Ode to the Yuckies
by Wilhelmina Moos
Dripping eyes, pounding head,
Wish I could just stay in bed.
Cough. Sniffle. Blow. Achoooo!
Look out, Mom, I’m gonna spew!
Forehead splitting, cheek bones hurt.
Back is stiff, neck’s on alert.
Hips are painful, can’t lay down.
Mom’s right – my face is stuck in frown.
Make a meal? I think not.
Where did I get all this snot?
First fever, chills, then sweat, then Brrrrr!
Blankets, fans, thermometers.
Asleep, awake or in a daze,
It matters not; my eyes are glazed.
Achey head, swollen feet.
Water. Juice. A nap. Repeat.
Lungs are burning, throat is sore.
Mom’s sick, too, but we’re two more
Who need for her to care for us.
Careful, Mom. You’re gonna bust.
Mucinex won’t help today.
The Mucus Guys are here to stay.
But in this cloud, we’ve found a jewel.
Eventually, we’re back to school!!
The knack for poetry seems to be genetic for Moos. Her mother, too, would often be struck by inspiration in the middle of the night and jot down lines of poetry she would later polish. One night, a wee-hours revelation caused Sarah Mae Moos to begin an epic poem about her family, the Hanson clan. The poem was quite a hit at Hanson reunions.
“I don’t publish my poems,” Moos said. “I’ve written, oh, maybe 40 of them. The poems just hit me now and then, and they are usually something to do with the time I’m writing them.”
One late night, while working a night shift at the St. Cloud Children’s Home, right after Christmas, she was sitting up all by herself in one of the cottages. An idea for a poem struck her, and she launched into writing a long parody of Clement Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas,” except Moos’s version began with “T’was the night after Christmas and all through the cottage . . . ”
It’s not surprising poems emerge so often in Moos’s mind. She loves words and wordplay. One of her favorite leisure activities is playing “Words with Friends,” a software application for her iPhone that consists of all kinds of word games and wordplay.
Moos calls most of her poems “fun occasion poems.” For example, she has seven sisters, and all of them like to get together at least once a year for a special reunion-celebration. Last year, as she wrote out the invitations, she found herself – once again – rhyming her words, and thus the invitations morphed into a fun poem.
Moos’s advice to those who think they might be poets but don’t know it.
“Just do it,” she said. “Just play with words. Use words you wouldn’t use when talking. Develop a repertoire of words. Then have fun with them.”
Moos’s advice to anyone suffering from the nasty flu:
“Water, juice, take a nap and repeat.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.