Sunday, March 16, 2008


Two days ago I took myself to a garden center as a defiant acknowledgement that Spring is coming. And today I'm releasing the first poem I have written since my, shall we say, "challenging" poetry manuscript conference a month ago. The poem was inspired by several of the naturalist poets at the conference and by one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver. I love anything outdoors--birds, walks, trees, lakes, mountains, oceans, storm clouds, gardens, even plain old dirt--but I can't seem to jumpstart myself into happy appreciation the way so many other people say they can. So this poem is about that.

These buds need light now,
They’ve been bullied by a merciless snow
That stormed in last November
And white washed everything in sight.
The ground is weary,
Battling for sun,
Anticipation tainted
By a white depressing permanence.
I could walk along the curved path
And seek out the red berries
As a sign of vibrance
But today I hobble instead of sprint
And that is no way to take this walk.
It’s harder still to reconcile the hundred foot pine in front of me--
Stripped by some disease my neighbor did not treat--
Framing the landscape of a slumbering sky,
Jolted by the flapping wingspan of a passer-by hawk,
Carrying a stunned squirming chipmunk in its mouth--
That chipmunk in a fight I’m sure,
It had no chance to win: no chance at all.
And me? Must I fight too?
Memory wrestles me down.
A white despondency covers even me.
Sometimes instead of chimes and dances
I hear only ice howls and hollow echoes before they hit the ground.
Those poets who find meaning
In observing the natural life:
That is not me. My comfort comes from underground
where roots are the flowers of the otherworld.


  1. Your imagery in this poem creates vivid visualization and palpable emotion. I feel such an ache! This poem has real richness, and is even richer for the courage it must have taken to share it "out loud" here.

  2. I like your dark side KJ and this poem shows some of a difficult winter you've just had. Once those seeds sprout we'll be seeing a rose in every cheek ;)

  3. ruby, thank you.

    carla and anon, i could only share this AFTER, not during! and besides, you know writers sometimes just let their imaginations run wild... :)

  4. The joy is there, just waiting to sprout.

  5. Not bad that poem, not bad at all.
    Very "spring-y".

  6. cs, promise? :)

    peterbie, thank you!

  7. KJ I like this poem very much and it is my favourite of your poetry so far.

    The imagery is wonderful and the whole effect is most sincere.

  8. Written like a true gardener. I see a lot of trees here, very beautiful. They don't have leaves though but the Bradford Pear trees are in full bloom and look absolutely gorgeous.

  9. That even brought me down, and there wasn't much room for movement in that direction. I am just starting to try to crawl out, and you are pulling me back down in. Which means it's a great poem, but maybe you should've posted a warning!

  10. miladysa, thank you very much. this is the product of my new approach, which encourages revisions and more revisions. i think and hope it does make my writing stronger...

    ces, i wish i were standing next to you looking at those pear trees

    rm, friend: i apologize. i can get pretty introspective, sometimes even depressed. i'll let you know up front next time!! (spring will be good for both of us)

  11. yes, this exemplifies the trueer part of life! the tao, the black and the white, the duality of ourselves. Excellent work! All is not happy and light!

  12. I took a lot of comfort from the thought of the roots lying beneath, waiting to sprout. Even when the ground is barren, not all is lost. Life renews itself.

    My little orphan bird died, but I comforted myself with the thought that it was warm and not frightened when it passed. I try very hard to look for the good.