Tag Archives: poetry

7 April 2013: Wasp

She got the worst of it, I fear   
raked from my foot and discarded   
on the carpet in my panic.   


In response to great loss, like the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, people all over the country sat down to write poems. Thousands of poems were written opposing our country’s war on Iraq. Most of these well-meaning poems fail as art, but they do make their writers feel better, because we all feel better for having expressed ourselves and because people understand that a poem is a way of assembling a little bit of order amid chaos.

Ted Kooser, The Poetry Home Repair Manual, p. 55

Library: 13 February 2014

The library model stands     
in a corner of the library.     
A delicate spire of     
wood veneer, molded round    
and capped with an arabesque    
dome and delicate inlay    
flanks the entrance.     
A temple filled with bookshelves    
browsed by tiny plastic men,    
indicating scale for    
three-story latice windows    
and rising stairs from    
the windowed hall.    
Littering the entrance hall,    
stacks of latice windows    
fallen–or perhaps pushed–    
from empty windows by    
finger vandalism.    
The other student works    
atop every bookshelf    
are fantastic postmodernism.    
Sails and frameworks defy    
tradition and physics.    
The exhibit lives    
in a renovated department store    
from the 1950s.

What is with this poetry stuff anyway?

Somewhere over the last year or so, I had a few too many burning-bush moments and shifted slightly back toward ideas I was exploring in the early 90s. If you say that a tree is a god, I’m a theist. If you say it isn’t, I’m an atheist. Either way, my relationship to the tree remains.

Also during that time I journaled extensively, mostly short work. Somewhen, I got out of the habit, possibly during my ABD hell when I developed severe RSI. Possibly I was chasing my tail trying to deal with a long-form work that got away from me and I changed out from under it. Shortly after the family visit at the start of the New Year, I made three interrelated decisions:

  • Write more nature-focused work and ideas.
  • Write shorter works.
  • Find an alternate way of communicating these ideas.

Haiku was a form I experimented with back when I was journaling and it seems a good fit for what I’m trying to do as a religious practice. A haiku is a Polaroid snapshot of Beings in the world around me stripped of literary devices except for a season word and a break. It’s simple, but not easy. It’s a method to capture fleeting moments of those Beings.

Not that I consider myself any good. I am an amateur, and will likely remain as such.

One advantage is that poetic modes are, in modern interpretation, more likely to be read as subjective and ambiguous than prose.

If you turn on the “news” you will get a handful of facts followed by a series of talking heads. The first one says, “this is reality.” The second one says, “no, that’s politics; this is reality.” And if the producer is lucky to get them in the same time, you end up with two people shouting different realities at each other. The conclusion is that the talking head who is most witty, emotive, or sympathetic dictates reality for the audience.

Unfortunately, this seems to carry through with online interfaith discourse where personal subjectivity is often lost, even when explicitly stated. Writing declaratively about these relationships is more likely to be seen as proselytism than writing poetically.

That’s the theory I’m working with at any rate. I’m gradually easing into other forms as well.