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April 8, 2015

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, National Poetry Month Style

By Mary M.

Teenreads loves National Poetry Month, and so do our Teen Board members! To celebrate these 30 days of haikus, sonnets, limericks and everything in between, Teen Board member Mary M. wrote a series of poems addressing Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. As Mary notes, "In all of the poems, the 'you' is Holden. Most of them are written from a character's perspective (whose name is in the title), but two of them are written from a third-person perspective." Read Mary's poems below, and perhaps you'll be inspired to write some poems based off of one of your own favorite books!

[  SALLY  ]


Don’t shout, please, Holden ─

sure, yeah, I think school’s a bore,

who doesn’t? But hey,

it seems pretty fine to me, this life and this city

of all the phonies you hate.

Weren’t the Lunts just marvelous? That’s what

I’m interested in, Holden, cute skirts

and going to a play, trimming the Christmas tree.

I’m just fine with the glitz and glamour,

even if it is fake; see, you don’t think about it

and have a marvelous time.

I don’t know what you’re even talking about,

you jump from one ─

You’re sweet. You’re a nut.

You’re talking about staying in a cabin

in Vermont and living off a hundred-eighty dollars,

but you can’t just do something like that ─

stop screaming at me, please.

We have oodles of time to do all those things,

to think and find out what’s real;

oodles of time, Holden, we’re young, marvelous,

we’re invincible. Why’d I agree to this date, huh?

We’re both practically children

and you’re grasping for something you can’t reach.





[  GO ON  ]


Your brother is dead.

He got leukemia, lost to it, when you were up in Maine.

On July 18, 1946.

Dead. He’sdeadhe’sdeadhe’s    dead.

So now all you have left is the memory of him,

hair so red you just knew that he’d be behind you

golfing in the hazy summer,

how he fell off of chairs laughing, or near enough,

and your parents were always

disappointed in you

and he, he was never

mad at anybody. He was the nicest, in lots of ways.

Sure. Go on, say it.

Say it, the words like cigarette smoke

in your mouth. Say it soft as ink-green poems

on a fielder’s worn mitt. Left-handed, you know. You know.

Say it casual like you don’t even care.

Dead. Say it out loud like you didn’t sleep in the garage

and break all the windows knuckles clenched

shattered glass in the black shattered night

trying failing hot and cold


you didn’t even know you were doing it.

His name was Allie.







I and my girl friends saw Peter Lorre

last night. You know, the movie actor. In person.

He was buyin’ a newspaper. He’s cute.

New York, huh,

where you see movie stars buyin’ newspapers.

I wonder if any’ll come in here.

Whadja say?

This song’s pretty swell, huh. Me in New York,

dancing the night away. This one looks young,

but he’s awful tall.

Probably why he was trying

to get a Scotch and soda, “but don’t mix it,”

you shoulda heard him, and rum in the Coke.

What?─ He’s sure looking to be

all adult, anyhow,

and he’s a kid if ever I saw one.

Not too happy. You can see it in his eyes.

I remember looking like that,

when I got the letter about my Jimmy,

looking like there ain’t no tomorrow and

all the world’s just hollow lies.


But that’s not for now.

We gotta get up early tomorrow;

we’re goin’ to the first show at Radio City Music Hall.

It’s immaterial to me

the dance, I mean. But even if

the rest of it all is immaterial, too,

there’s a void to be filled

after the world’s gone to war.

And he shouldn’t have this much pain

and me, well, I should have a ring on my finger,

but there’s movie stars, dancing, New York, right?

He’s young. Hey ─ how old are you, anyhow?








The streets of New York

one o’clock in the morning

hair like ice, shivering-shhivering in the December air,

you stumble alone.

Alcohol is flooding through your veins and the

memory of tears is stuck to your cheeks.

At the gates of Central Park, you drop it. The record.

It splinters into about fifty pieces,

and you bend to the broken sidewalk

to grasp the broken vinyl with your broken hands

and it is cold as crying.

And it was a gift, the record,

one that would knock Phoebe out.

You pick up the pieces ─ you know how,

with a record, with “Little Shirley Beans.”

Because you still want to give it to her,

like you want to shove all the cracked pieces of your life

into someone’s ─ anyone’s ─ hands,

but you don’t know if the fractures are too deep.








Frankly, Holden, I don’t know what

to say to you. You have a good mind. Brilliant, even.

Maybe not brilliant enough

to realize that your searching and seeking

and bitter jaded hatred

have left you trembling by the edge

of a precipitous clip, and I feel if you fall,

you’ll careen through the air,

faster than gravity faster than breath faster than than

I know. And you’ll never know it, either;

you won’t-can’t comprehend how terrible it is to fall.

Holden, you must apply yourself!

You’ll find that you’re not the first person,

no, not by any means,

who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened

by human behavior. You’ll learn from those others ─

if you want to. Try, Holden!
Do you follow me at all? Do you hear

what I’m not saying, that I know what a fall looks like,

teeth and blood it’s loud it’s loud

and I just can’t drape my coat again and carry that heavy weight.

Do you hear me, Holden?

You’re running right towards a crazy cliff

and there’s no one there to catch you.








2:30 a.m. an’ I’m sitting at Penn Station.

The cab don’t smell too gorgeous

but you get used to it. Late-night shifts are the worst.

Here we go, a customer.

This guy’s been in a phone booth

for ten too-long minutes since I drove up,

and now he wants a cab? He wasn’t makin’ a phone call.

He folds himself into the back seat,

gives me an address. 71st Street.

Wealthy, huh? He looks in rough shape for all the money.

Dough’s probably not all it’s cracked up to be,

but I could use some. Great, now he wants me t’ turn around.

This here’s a one-way, Mac.

And hey, what’re ya tryna do, bud? Kid me? ─

who here has the time to think about the ducks

from Central Park South?

It’s freezing, it’s traffic, it’s New York.

Eat, sleep, stop, go, that’s life, mister. That’s my life.

You prob’ly have a nice apartment, cocktail parties,

prob’ly have a nice family and you don’t have to work

the 2 a.m. shift you know you don’t want to

but there’s distinctions, see, between you and me.

The ducks? No idear, Mac,


and down here I’ll never know.

Mary M. is a member of the Teen Board.