The Poets

August 30, 2010

To the Mosquito

Touch upon me ever light
And draw up nectar, scarlet meal
Steal treasures from this lively frame
And claim whatever vein you will

Who am I to hold a grudge
To hard condemn your nature's bent
For I know nature made you such
For you no other nature’s meant

She has fashioned me as well
Equipped me with a sure reply
A pass, I warn, to even kill
What creatures might upon me vie

So with that said, this be clear,
I harbor no antipathy
But should you seek these treasures pure
My heart will pump iniquity


August 25, 2010

On the Brink

He clamped that heavy weapon tight
And aimed that steel that seemed a ton
And just before a life was done
A humming bird was in his sight

“Draw down son, and be at peace”
It said in syllables divine
“Don’t you know that this is mine”
To which his hand gave quick release


August 22, 2010

What Will the Fir-Tree Say*

Beauty provokes thieves sooner than gold.


We spoke yesterday at the pool, briefly, on how urban expansion impinges upon the land that animals know as home. We seem shocked that a red tail fox should be roaming our neighborhoods, or think it odd that there would be rabbits deep in the heart of a city.

And then we have the reality of intermittent animal attacks, and condemn, not our annexation of their natural territories, but their dangerous presence our communities. We usually kill the more dangerous of these, or throw them into captivity; some of the more docile of the creatures, like prairie dog, we simple relocate (which, we say, is usually better than the alternative- but for who I ask).

Expansionism- if ever there were a term more frightening to nature it would undoubtedly be this one. We pillage her recourses like gluttons; exploit her loveliness like careless lovers; and draw from her bosom some of the most lethal, some of the most deadliest uses we have ever known (and we fear the fox).

Later that night I happened to read, for the first time, a poem written by Emily Dickinson entitled, Who Robbed the Woods. It reminded me, though it referred to no animal, of that poolside conversation. As I read it I derived deeper meanings, but its more literal (or closely literal) aspect penetrated my heart deeply: here we have this gorgeous plant (these “woods”) and yet, rapaciously and without consideration, we exploit it; we often not only take this planet’s loveliness for granted, we misuse and destroy her natural beauty to achieve purely anthropocentric ends (and this with little regard).

Of course we need to utilize her resources to sustain life, but don’t we often take this a little too much to the extreme? Is it utterly necessary to hack down entire forests to make our lives easier? Is there not moderation? Must we achieve comfort at the expense of nature and her beauty? Must we take all this wonderment around us for granted?

Then again, have we not all done the same?

Who Robbed the Woods

Who robbed the woods,
The trusting woods?
The unsuspecting trees
Brought out their burrs and mosses
His fantasy to please.
He scanned their trinkets, curious,
He grasped, he bore away.
What will the solemn hemlock,
What will the fir-tree say?

*Painting by Randy Richmond

August 19, 2010

Nature's First Green is Gold

Remember the movie The Outsiders? If you haven't watched it you're missing out on an excellent early 80s classic. It's about the inevitable clash between two rival gangs, the inadvertent killing of one of their members, the self-exilation of the two young boys who committed the killing, and their need to reconcile the wrong done.

I was thinking of the film recently and remembered there was a scene in the movie where a Robert Frost poem was quoted (I love it when poets are quoted or referred to in movies- philosophers too). The poem, called Nothing Gold Can Stay, was written by Frost in 1923 and was added to his most prized collection of poetry, New Hampshire. It's simple, yet radically profound, one of his shortest poems, and his only one done in trimeter. Check it out.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Remember that! They set this scene up so perfectly that it even aligned with the point of Frost's poem; namely, that the manifestation of purity and beauty sadly persists with us too short a time.

August 14, 2010

Of an Uncommon Measure

Her Uncommon Measure

Their choir filled the maple tree
Their fluting, too, the fir
And though they sang so beautifully
All I could hear was her


Of the Poem:

The idea for this poem was inspired by an incident that transpired at the pool last Sunday.

There's a question I pose in the comments area ... I'd love to know your opinion of it (and the poem).

August 11, 2010

About a Dream

On January 26th of 2009 I completed a poem entitled Monarch- I posted it here in April of the same year without explanation.

The truth is I should have at least mentioned- in that post- a rather interesting and wonderful fact about it: that it originated in a dream.

True story. I was asleep on the couch power napping as my daughter was playing nearby ... I was in a sort of 'in-between' state of wake and sleep when gradually these very lines- in meter, mind you!- came to me:

But then I there within a husk
That dangled from an Aspen tusk

I woke up and immediately wrote it down- surprised, as I mentioned, that they rhymed and were in tetrameter.

Now I don't know how the subject of the dream emerged, but what I do know is that its point revolved around the idea internal change followed by redemption- with the cocoon (the husk) symbolizing the process.

Before I knew it I found myself completely absorbed in constructing a poem around these lines. I already knew what the meter would be, knew that quatrains would make up the stanzas, and I essentially knew that I'd use aabb as the rhyme scheme. What I didn't have was much material to construct the appropriate images for the poem.

But then- and this is no joke- the very next day Nova aired The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies, a documentary about the "2,000-mile migration of monarchs to a sanctuary in the highlands of Mexico". It goes without saying, I was thrilled.

And so the reason for this particular post was to share the source of inspiration behind the poem, namely, a dream. I'll re-post it in the comments area if you'd like to read it (or, just click on the 'Monarch' link above). Also, and I really recommend this, click the link for that documentary ... it's only 52 minutes and way worth the while.

August 09, 2010

Where Midnight Zagreus Roves, I Rove

I rummaged though books a few mornings ago to find something to take poolside … as I did this I came across a poetic excerpt I printed out years ago from a play written by Euripides (I found it tucked away in the pages of Plato's Republic). Needless to say, I was delighted.

Now the interesting thing about this poem is that I came to know it long before internalizing a passion for poetry itself- in fact, I originally read it in Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy (one of the best books ever written on the historical development of philosophy, by the way).

I think it would be overkill here to elaborate on the details to which this poem refers- i.e. the history and mythology behind Bacchus, the sect that followed him, and how the details of the poem in it relate to these. Suffice it to say, however, that in it a priest of the Bacchae cult speaks in high adoration and fidelity to Bacchus, the deity he worships (the details therein are astonishingly beautiful).

Lord of Europa's Tyrian line,
Zeus-born, who holdest at thy feet
The hundred citadels of Crete,
I seek to thee from that dim shrine,

Roofed by the Quick and Cavern Beam,
By Chalyb steel and wild bull's blood,
In flawless joints of Cypress wood
Made steadfast. There in one pure stream

My days have run. The servant I,
Initiate, of Idaean Jove;
Where midnight Zagreus roves, I rove;
I have endured his thunder-cry;

Fulfilled his red and bleeding feasts;
Held the Great Mother's mountain flame;
I am set free and named by name
A Bacchos of the Mailed Priests.

Robed in pure white I have borne me clean
From man's vile birth and coffined clay,
And exiled from my lips alway
Touch of all meat where Life hath been.

Of the Poem (In Brief):

The five quatrains here are written in what we would call Italian verse (abba); it revolves around what I’ll call a loose tetrameter (i.e. eight syllables per line).

My favorite line in this poem, by far, is line the third line of the third stanza: Where midnight Zagreus roves, I rove.
The Lord of Europa's Tyrian line, Idaean Jove, and midnight Zagreus all refer to the same deity, Bacchus.

As of April 9th, 2010