In My Ohio

​On the Adoration Poems

Darren C. Demaree
The title of my most recent book, “Not for Art nor Prayer”, lends itself to the question, if not for those two ecstatic forces, then what are these poems for? My answer is that it’s not what, but who are these poems for? There is a section of “Emily As” poems, and those are easy to peg since I’m married to an Emily. There are “Wednesday Morning” poems, which are all vignettes of general excitement, and they are more abstract than directional. There is a potpourri section of poems coming that is much more about fitting in my favorite poems than they are about adhering to any particular dedication. I’m really proud of all of those sections, but the opening sequence “Adorations” answers the initial question in the first twenty-five pages. These poems are for strangers, for artists, for writers, and for people I am thankful for. If it wasn’t an exhausting, un-poetic title, I would have just called the book, “Poems for…” and list all of those people. In lieu of that, allow me to explain the “Adoration” poems a little more fully.
Adoration #6 – for the couple in the Chipotle parking lot 
It is rare that I get to eat a meal by myself. So, when Emily and the kids are off on an adventure together, I normally run out to Chipotle to get a burrito. One of those afternoons, I was rushing through a crowded parking lot, and I saw a young couple holding hands, moving much slower than everyone else. They caused me to slow down for bit. I smiled because of that couple. I enjoyed the rest of my day more because I saw them together.
Adoration #28 – for Whitey, a family friend and former assistant clubhouse manager for the Cleveland Indians
 Whitey left my family countless free tickets to Indians’ games while I was growing up. I never saw any man work harder than Whitey. He had three jobs at once, and they all involved heavy lifting. He was hunched because of all that lifting. So, a five-foot five-inch man, hunched over all of the time, doesn’t lead to much of an electric sight, but Whitey was a dynamo. He was always funny, always gentle, and incredibly kind to everyone he met. Whitey is a hero of mine.
Adoration #30 – for my neighbor, Anna 
I stole a story that happened to my wife for this one. We have a neighbor, Anna, who beat breast cancer, and revealed that fact to my wife by telling her about her new breasts. Anna is an incredible woman, but that little story was so funny and so frank to me that it earned its own poem.
Adoration #33 – for Reuben, who once worked at Steinkeller with me in Oxford, Ohio
 Reuben was a darling man, but he was always sad about a woman. For most of my time at Steinkeller, I was sad about different women as well, and so we became fast friends. When I finally got the girl I wanted, a waitress at Steinkeller, he was thrilled for us, and he got really drunk at our wedding. I don’t know what happened to Reuben, but he was a constantly morose teddy bear, so I hope he is well.
Adoration #56 – for Christopher Michel 
Chris is a great friend of mine. I love to send him and his children gifts. They’re mostly books and art, but it had been awhile since I had sent him anything, so I wrote him a poem to remind him he is loved in Ohio.
Adoration #83 – for my grandmother, Gloria 
I love the way my grandmother’s storytelling has changed. It’s a little bit looser on the facts, but they’re very direct and very judgmental now. She will tell you what she thinks, even if it’s based on false memories. You know what, she’s over ninety years old at this point, and she’s allowed to tell her stories however she damn pleases.
Adoration #88 – for Phil Stutzman 
Phil is my baseball brother. We played baseball together when we were kids, and we’re both huge Cleveland Indians fans. Remembering the tiny park we grew up playing baseball on, always makes me think about playing baseball with Phil, and they’re incredibly rose-colored memories.
Adoration #90 – for the manager at Kroger’s 
Taking children to the grocery store is a little bit like bringing a circus to a carnival, when nobody else in the crowd is willing to be entertained. You have to make it fun for the kids, or things break down very quickly. They always want to pick all of the food, and run around, sometimes through people, to grab things. One of the ways to combat that is allowing the kids to ride in the cart. The people charged with keeping their store injury-free aren’t too fond of that. Some of them will let it go, but some of them will tell you directly to not let the kids stand up in the cart. I caught a very evil eye from one of them on a busy Saturday morning. He saw the overwhelmed look on my face, and so he let it slide.
Adoration #91 – for Mark Yakich 
Mark is one of my favorite poets. I love his books, and he was nice enough to include one of his poems in the first release of the literary magazine I run (Ovenbird Poetry). He is a very nice man, and a great talent.
Adoration #92 – for Elizabeth Herbert 
Elizabeth is an ex-girlfriend of mine. It is strange, I suppose, to write a poem for an ex-girlfriend, but Elizabeth was special to me then, and she became an important figure in my development as a man. I was terrible to her. She was the last woman I was mean to. Like the poem says as it ends, “she hates her role”, which is expected to be the case, but I learned a lot from the guilt I felt after that relationship ended. There is no appropriate justification for how I behaved, but I am who I am now because I became so appalled by how I treated her.
Adoration #93 – for the elderly man at Teejay’s Country Restaurant 
Teejay’s is like a Denny’s without shame. I like that about Teejay’s. They would put gravy on a side of fruit. One morning an older man and I looked up after both of our wives went to the bathroom. We raised our coffee mugs to each other, in a sort of salute to each other. It made me immediately think about aging and death, but it in a happy way. We had wives and coffee at that point, and apparently we both felt like that was enough to handle the rest of the world.
Adoration #100 – for Gretchen Marty 
Gretchen is an advocate for everyone she loves. She is one of my wife’s best friends, and I consider her a good friend, as well. The reason why is that she would do anything to help out someone she cares about. She’s whom I use to help me plan surprises for Emily, and that sort of compatriot is not to be undervalued.
Adoration #109 – for the delivery guy from Jimmy John’s 
This one happened exactly as how I wrote it. I ordered a sandwich from a Jimmy John’s guy when I was in grad school, and when it arrived the delivery guy said to me “Hey man, have a great fucking day, okay?” It was so odd, but he was smiling when he said it. He was being genuine. He really wanted me to have a great fucking day. That was the best sandwich I ever ordered.
Adoration #110 – for my son 
I wrote this poem when Thomas was teething. I couldn’t do much to help him feel better, but I wanted him to know that he could cry as much as he needed to.
Adoration #111 – for Nik DeDominic 
I lived in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for a month or so, and one of my favorite people from that time is Nik. He’s a very talented poet in his own right, but walking around Tuscaloosa with one of my best friends, Steve Kowalski, and Nik; all of us drunk and smoking cigarettes is how I will always remember Tuscaloosa.
 Adoration #115 – for Jean Maddocks
Jean was my wife’s grandmother. She was a very elegant and very sweet woman. She passed away this past year, but I spent a lot of time talking to her about how much we both loved her granddaughter.
Adoration #131 – for the young couple in the AT&T store on Henderson Rd.
 There was a high school couple almost having sex with each other in that AT&T store. Their hands were, let’s say, reaching the actionable places while they picked out new cell phones. It was an impressive display of abandon. It was a little gross as well, but kudos to them for not giving a shit about anyone else in that store.
Adoration #141 – for the only child in the sick waiting room at Dr. Maher’s office 
Dr. Maher is my children’s pediatrician. She, like every other pediatrician, has a waiting room specifically designated for the sick kids. That room is a sad, nearly toy-less place. I almost always look in the window to see how those kids are doing, and one time there was this kid in a cape going wild. He looked sick, but he wasn’t acting very sick. It was an excellent display of youth.
Adoration #147 – for Robert Demaree 
Bob Demaree was my grandfather. He was a great guy, who protected his hair with a great intensity, and that meant that is was great fun to try and mess it up. He loved his hair and he loved my grandmother, Dottie.
Adoration #164 – for the oil painting salesman camped out in Worthington 
Who doesn’t love giant paintings of tigers?
Adoration #165 – for Dana Levin 
Dana is one of my favorite poets, but that is not why I wrote this poem for her. She takes the loveliest, most life-affirming photographs of the flowers and plants she takes care of. Social media isn’t close to perfect, but when she shares a new floral photograph it always makes me happy. There’s something akin to hope in those beautiful shots.
Adoration #172 – for the server at the Blue Danube 
I had a hysterically bad and funny server at the ‘Dube one evening. She would literally throw the food at us. If we hadn’t caught our plates, they would have slammed into the wall. I tipped her well just because I had convinced myself that she was performing some sort of art piece that was beyond my scope of understanding.
Adoration #174 – for the librarian in the cat socks at Whetstone 
Librarians are heroes. Librarians in hilarious cat socks are superheroes.
Adoration #192 – for Claudia Serea 
Claudia is a very talented poet. She and I share a publisher (8th House Publishing), and so I’ve gotten to read a lot of her work. Something in the way she uses sadness and images of water really strikes a chord in me. She makes looking for impossible answers seem like a really beautiful pursuit.