Write-a-thon, Day 18: They just stand back and let it all be

Posted: July 10, 2013 in Writing
Tags: , , , , , ,

Natl Poetry Month 1

“There is the view that poetry should improve your life. I think people confuse it with the Salvation Army.” – John Ashberry

We enjoy poetry here at the Bureau, but most of the time we never get around to reading any. That’s a shame in a language that includes Robert Frost and the birch trees he observed bent by the snow,

So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.

It’s not National Poetry Month (that was in April), but it is July and the outdoors are calling me. This makes me think of poetry about nature that’s really about people but then again maybe it’s about nature.

It’s impossible not to read the entire poem after archy the cockroach gives us this opening in “the lesson of the moth”:

i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires

William Stafford tells the story of a pile of rocks in “Silver Star.” Here’s how it begins:

To be a mountain you have to climb alone
and accept all that rain and snow. You have to look
far away when evening comes. If a forest
grows, you care; you stand there leaning against
the wind, waiting for someone with faith enough
to ask you to move. Great stones will tumble
against each other and gouge your sides. A storm
will live somewhere in your canyons hoarding its lightning.

But the poem I want to relate this evening is this one, by Paul Zimmer, called “Old Woodpecker.” It’s copyright 1989 by Mr. Zimmer and here it is in its entirety:

In the end his tiny eyes won’t focus.
Punchy, his snap gone, he spends his
Time banging on gutters and drainpipes.
He begins to slurr and churrrr,
His breath descending in a rattle,
He tells endless stories of old trees
Taken, but he has absorbed one too many
Hardwoods to his noggin, his brain is
Pudding. For the rest of his time
He will undulate around, patronized,
Spunky but sweet, remembering only
Nests of teeming carpenter ants,
Consenting grubs under flaps of bark,
The days when he was a contender
Amongst the great woods of his life.

Yes, I did write today here in the Write-a-thon, but no, I am not converting my book to any form of free or rhymed verse. I just felt like reading some poetry, and I wasn’t about to torment you with my own.

  1. Accused of Lurking says:

    She went away
    She cut me like a knife
    Had a beautiful thing
    Maybe you just saved my life

    In just a glance
    Down here on Magic Street
    Love’s a fool’s dance
    I ain’t got much sense but I still got my feet

    And the girls in their summer clothes
    In the cool of the evening light
    The girls in their summer clothes
    Pass me by

    –Bruce Springsteen

    • Run-DMSteve says:

      I read somewhere that if you took an average group of people off the street and put them in a room and asked them to recite poetry, they would have enough lyrics and scraps of poems inside them that they could put together a pretty entertaining collection. Accused of Lurking, a noted Springsteenologist, would be a worthwhile addition to such a group. [Insert here Bruce’s anguished “Waauuughhhh!” from “Jungleland.”]

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