Raised in Connecticut, Russell Rowland has spent the past quarter-century in New Hampshire, now living and working in the Lakes Region. Deeply influenced by the places and people of the Granite State, his poetry has appeared in over a hundred small journals nationwide, and received four Pushcart Prize nominations. He has been Featured Poet in The Aurorean and Chantarelle's Notebook, and recently was featured reader for the Poetry Society of New Hampshire. He is a recipient of Descant's Baskerville Publishers Poetry Award.
How the poem (Scorekeeper) came to be written.
A few years ago, a humorous story circulated about the number of "points" one needs to get into heaven. "Scorekeeper" was written in response to the story. Looking back at it today, I realize the poem is actually about the unsung decency of ordinary people. It appeared in New Zoo Poetry Review, Vol. 9, 2006.
When you’re small and do the chores,
and it’s not your turn, you get a point.
When you’re old and a cheerful candid doctor
informs you the tumor’s there to stay,
and you go home, wash dishes, fold the clothes,
let the cat in and out, you get a point for that.
You get one point for each soft answer spoken
through clenched teeth to a hormonal teenager.
You get a point not just for allowing your hubby
his old Playboy Magazines, but for your straight
face as he swears he reads them for the articles.
You get a point by not saying something stupid
like, “It was coming apart anyway,”
when you drop the Christmas ornament
your wife’s grandmother made as a little girl.
If a neighbor’s husband dies,
and you bring a casserole even though
they built the spite fence, that’s one point.
For not keeping track of your points,
you get a point. For sharing a few of yours
with some pointless person, you get a point.