Longfellow? Really?

Does anyone read Henry David Longfellow anymore? Why would they?

"By the shore of Gitchee Gumee, by the shining big sea water, stood the wigwam of Nokomis, daughter of the moon, Nokomis..." I don't think anyone's forced to memorize those lines anymore. Not only does it border on poesy, it's probably not all that PC either. Nevertheless ... Read more about Longfellow? Really?



In the spirit of [amazon 0865475911 inline] and my upcoming flight to the Midwest for a high school reunion and relative binge, this week's poetry selection is one of my own. As you can see, I've always had this thing about crows.


The wind came out and blew her down the road
Her coat skirts wrapped around her knees.
She moved alone between the cold fields of corn stubble and
Black choppy seas of fall-plowed land.
The houses were set back from the road.
They were too far for comfort.
And none of them were hers.

Storm crows settled between the black furrows, Read more about Migration


Learning the Pacific Northwest

There are things you have to learn, moving here from anywhere else. Like how to pronounce geoduck, Puyallup, and Sequim. Drew Myron, has a little longer list:

Fern, talus, tide
It’s salal, he says, but I don’t know how
to say what he touches, how to make the
words that form new memory

It’s alder, birch, spruce,
a shore pine edge in offshore wind
We drive through days of dictionary

pages, catalog a new land of heather
and fern, talus and basalt
Surrounded by twisting syllables

and vines of vowels, we reach new ground Read more about Learning the Pacific Northwest


Love Letter

. Once upon a time, Joseph Brodsky went to Venice and in more than one way never returned. He went back, again and again, always in winter, when it can be cold and rainy, when the water levels rise in what Venetians call aqua alta, and the canals lap around the architecture, licking the thresholds. Read more about Love Letter


Dickinson Death March

I picked up [amazon 0674676246 inline] at her home in Amherst, Massachusetts a couple of years back.

There is much of Emily that I like very much. I like the little visuals - "Snow flakes. I counted till they danced so Their slippers leaped the town..." That alone is worth discovering 45 poems in. Read more about Dickinson Death March


Poetry and Its Disenchantments

Poetry is an evocation, a metaphor, a simple simile – a distillation – there you have it – much better word – of something that prose takes an exponential increase of words to relay.

With this in mind, I once tried to convince a professor that the ten-page paper he required once a week could perhaps be served just as well in a one-page poem. I have been cursed with unimaginative teachers – that is, with teachers unwilling to enter the world of my imagination. Read more about Poetry and Its Disenchantments


How Do You Mean A Poem?

A Facebook entry the other day by a friend reminded me of an old friend of a book, John Ciardi's [amazon 0395186056 inline] .

"A poem is to be experienced, not simply interpreted. Unlike prose, a poem is primarily a performance."

And the best way I have found to experience a poem is to read it aloud, for the taste of the words in your mouth. Read more about How Do You Mean A Poem?


The Eyes Have It

"The eye is an organ of information processing
firmly connected to -
anatomically speaking -
the brain." Steven Pinker, [amazon 0393318486 inline] , reimagined as a poem.

"The eye is the most autonomous of our organs...
because the objects of its attention are inevitably
situated on the outside.

beauty is where the eye rests

a tear is an acknowledgement
of the retina's...failure to retain beauty Read more about The Eyes Have It


Grass Grown

About 40 years ago I lived on an 80 acre farm in Door County, Wisconsin. It was the only time in my life that I wrote poetry. At least, the only time that I wrote poetry almost all the time. When I wrote at all. Milking goats and weeding gardens take up a lot of time.

It was a beautiful time and, as I worked around the farm, bits and pieces of poems came to me. When I was lucky, I would remember them later and write them down. Some were inspired by the land, some by friends, some by family. A few expressed unfulfilled longings of my own. Read more about Grass Grown