Wednesday, March 2, 2011

in the woods


Maybe you've noticed something by now. How could you not? It concerns the ilk of poet to which I, humble blogger in your immateriosphere, belong. If, that is, I belong at all. But membership is another issue, not for today. For today, I confess the readily apparent. I am of a lowly sort of poet. Much out of favor in modernity, to say nothing (except this) of post-modernity. But there are those who remain on the outskirts--simple, rustic folk we are. We luxuriate in decay; we wallow in wet-clay. A deer in the distance through sycamore and pine: we stop and watch. And watch. And only turn away when the deer does, never for boredom or haste. A sky turns lavender in remnant light: we return to lavender associations--other sunsets, other instances of loss and deep, deep longing, other bracings for night. We are the nature poets. Untimely? Yes. Unsophisticated? Often. Unnecessary? Perhaps. But we survive. On the outskirts. In the woods. Unshowered, unshaved, unkempt. Eyes wide in wonder, peeled for fear of missing something lovely or so densely ugly only loveliness remains.

In my years of writing poetry, I have regularly tried my bulksome hand at more delicate poetry. More refined poetry. Or poetry with more chutzpah. More damn-it-all verve. And at times, I still try. I see what's being published in fancy journals and I try to emulate. To see if I can. Can I be the sort of poet who dresses in his Sunday best? Can I be the sort whose mortarboard cap and tassel seem permanently donned? My pride says yes, of course. Surely I am qualified. But in the end I fail. And for a while I am sad. Woebegone and pitiful.

Then I spot the deer's white tail--distant but indeed. And I watch and watch. Until it turns to leave. Or until the sky turns lavender and I am transported to a place where I belong. Which, fortunately, is right where I am. I am a nature poet.

I say all of that as introduction to this little number I wrote yesterday. It's still rough around the edges, but you've also probably noticed by now that that is how my poems usually remain.

Making Way

March again, again greeted warmly.

Birdfeeder rocks on its wire, nodding,

Empty. Birdsong: Halloo, it’s March again.

Knock, knock—the flame-crested pecker.

March, come in. Please do.

It brings wine and early flowers—house-

Warming. Brown-yellow grasses,

Days numbered, sulk in pear-tree shadows.

Smokewhitebloom stench. Pear trees.

Lovely and sour. March. Not quite

Spring. A petal on the lip. Tongue-tipped.

Today’s lesson is flesh.

How to greet it warmly, when

To eat it madly. Birdsong: March,

How do? How do you do? Food

For the rocking feeder. Finches

Await. The squirrel awaits. Summer

Awaits. Spring, come in. Please do.

February fronts, hot on cold,

Storm swept

Acorn and sweet-gum ball,

Lingering, last leaves.

Way-made for purple clover tufts.

Way-made for ample rain. Tomorrow’s lesson

Is flesh, continued. A lip on the petal.

Finger-tipped tongue. How and when?

March, how do? Please do

Come in. Birdsong again, house-warming.


  1. In the interest of full disclosure: I put myself in another category of poet--more highly esteemed though far from top-shelf. I write a ton of narrative poetry. Stories and stuff in verse.

  2. Geffrey MacDonaldMarch 2, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    I like you style man! If I were you I would'nt change a thing. Stay true to yourself and your style of writing - you will find what your looking for. I like the poem by the way. You have this great ability of putting the reader right in the thick of what your describing - at least for me anyway - I could almost smell the air! Nice.

  3. Ah, you make little of your writerly gift. Which probably accounts for much of why I like you; (honest) self-deprecation is a a rare and wonderful quality among poets.

    And I adore this poem. The enjambment. The phrasal movement. The lightness of it and yet the kind of wonderful fierceness underneath the surface.

    I want a copy of the journal you place this in (e.g. Southern Review, Crab Orchard Review, Ploughshares, etc).

  4. Thanks Geoff, I have always liked your style too. Thanks for the encouragement and for stopping by.

    You too, Hannah. Thanks. As always, I appreciate your input (to say nothing (except this) of your approval). I just re-read the poem with a closer eye on the enjambment, and you're right. It works quite well. Some intentionally some fortuitously. And yes, I'm sure those fancy journals are just waiting for me to submit; but when I do and when they accept me (how couldn't they?) your copy will be in the mail.