Sunday, October 19, 2014

William Stafford
from Youth

“Remember when shadows played
because there were leaves in the wind?
And people came to our door from a land
where stories were real?
Barefood we traveled the roads
all summer. At night we drew pictures
of home with smoke from the chimney.
And we frowned when we read,
so we could understand.”

A few nights ago paging between the Poems of William Stafford’s 
 the Way It Is;  Graywolf Press ( Stories That Could be True
Harpercollins is also excellent, there is some overlap of poems) 
and John Koethe’s North Point North; Harpercollins, some poems 
I love. some not so much, I found two the two accounts of childhood 
I have used in this post. I have been asked why I like poetry so much 
and while reflecting on these choices I came up with the following.

I enjoy the brevity of poems. the beautiful language and imagery, 
their ability to change direction, the freedom from the restrictions 
of (good) fiction like plot, continuity, characterization, point of view. 
Poetry on the other hand easily weaves together memory, sensory 
experience, moods, descriptions, sounds, disparate phrases, points 
of view, changes in tone, dialogue into an instrument that closely 
mimics the way our mind interacts with the world around it, with 
all our changing moods, flashes of memory or nostalgia, moments 
of despair or of epiphany. I see the best poems not as fictional 
narratives but as vessels in which the feelings, the memories, 
the observations and experiences of both the poet and the reader 
combine to allow the reader to examine the world and their
 experiences  within it with fresh insights and understanding.

from From the Porch
by John Koethe

“As though one’s childhood were a small midwestern town

Some forty years ago, before the elm trees died.
September was a modern classroom and the latest cars,
That made a sort of futuristic dream, circa 1955.
The earth was still uncircled. You could set your course
On the day after tomorrow. And children fell asleep
To the lullaby of people murmuring softly in the kitchen,
While a breeze rustled the pages of Life magazine,
And the wicker chairs stood empty on the screened-in porch.”

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"not half a mile from the nearest road,
a spot so hard to reach that no one comes–
a hiding place, a shrine for dragonflies
and nesting jays, a sign that there is still
one piece of property that won't be owned."

from Rough Country

by Dana Gioia 

I have been out of touch for some time. a lost internet connection
some work travel etc. I had hoped to share some photos of our big
Sept. snowstorm but they seem to be misplaced somewhere on the 
computer. So I  will start offering some thoughts and photos from 
our trip to  the cabin in Mid August. A trip across the prairie took 
use past some old farm buildings and a beautiful slough. 

When we finally left the grid road it was a steamy 30 plus Celsius and a
moose came out of the tiny slough next to our lane. 

"A moose has come out of
the impenetrable wood
and stands there, looms, rather,
in the middle of the road.
It approaches; it sniffs at
the bus's hot hood.

Towering, antlerless,
high as a church,
homely as a house
(or, safe as houses).
A man's voice assures us
"Perfectly harmless. . . ."

Some of the passengers
exclaim in whispers,
childishly, softly,
"Sure are big creatures."
"It's awful plain."
"Look! It's a she!"

Taking her time,
she looks the bus over,
grand, otherworldly.
Why, why do we feel
(we all feel) this sweet
sensation of joy?

"Curious creatures,"
says our quiet driver,
rolling his r's.
"Look at that, would you."
Then he shifts gears.
For a moment longer,

by craning backward,
the moose can be seen
on the moonlit macadam;
then there's a dim
smell of moose, an acrid
smell of gasoline. "

from The Moose

Elizabeth Bishop

Saturday, August 16, 2014

"Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don't see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate from the bridge it covers."
from Monet Refuses the Operation
by Lisel Mueller
   We arrived at the cabin a couple of days ago. 
These photos were taken by the trail camera attached
to the post by the porch steps. The bear appears for
several days after we left then nothing.

“ ...If there is to be a poet in these modern times,
he must go out for himself and must gain much
wisdom. He must look deeply into the world,
and far into time, even though he sees both the
world and time from some little microcosm like
Sheep Rock Spring.”

                                                from Sheep Rock
                                                        by  George R. Stewart,

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

   "I love the way the light falls over the suburbs
Late on these summer evenings, as the buried minds
Stir in their graves, the hearts swell in the warm earth
And the soul settles from the air into its human home.
This is where the prodigal began, and now his day is ending
In a great dream of contentment, where all night long
The children sleep within tomorrow’s peaceful arms
And the past is still,"

from  In The Park
by John Koethe

Walking the dogs thru the neighborhood or cutting
roses in the garden in the summer reminds me of
childhood summers with their green lawns, gentle
breezes and almost endless twilight. 

The passages in these poems spoke to those feelings and if
Koethe later changes the mood of his poem with the
habitual, pessimistic, qualifications I find frustrating in
his work, for me the (lovely) damage was already done
and I chose to focus on the evening light, the stillness and
the children asleep in tomorrow's peaceful arms.

the Garden

the Pond

As someone nearing 60 who still has my childhood
copy of Black Beauty. how could I not include this stanza
from Stafford's poem.

"Animals that knew the way to Heaven
wagged at the back doors of every house
when I was young, and horses told fences
the story of Black Beauty, and smelled of the good manger."

from When I Was Young
by William Stafford


Monday, July 28, 2014

Sometimes in the open you look up
where birds go by, or just nothing,
and wait. A dim feeling comes 
you were like this once, there was air,
and quiet; it was by a lake, or
maybe a river you were alert
as an otter and were suddenly born
like the evening star into wide
still worlds like this one you have found
again, for a moment, in the open.

Something is being told in the woods: aisles of
shadow lead away; a branch waves;
a pencil of sunlight slowly travels its
path. A withheld presence almost
speaks, but then retreats, rustles
a patch of brush. You can feel
the centuries ripple generations
of wandering, discovering, being lost
and found, eating, dying, being born.
A walk through the forest strokes your fur,
the fur you no longer have. And your gaze
down a forest aisle is a strange, long
plunge, dark eyes looking for home.
For delicious minutes you can feel your whiskers
wider than your mind, away out over everything. 

Atavism by 
William Stafford

My first photos of one of the beavers that are
denuding our property of aspen. Also as a species
an animal which played an enormous role in shaping 
our country. The photos were taken from our screened 
in porch and therefore a bit fuzzy.

Shaun and Whateley prepare for the long journey home.

Traveling thru parkland and prairie we meet fellow travelers. 


"There are rooms in a life, apart from the others, rich
with whatever happens, a glimpse of moon, a breeze.
You who come years from now to this brief spell 
of nothing that was mine: the open, slow passing
of time was a gift going by. I have put my hand out
on the mane of the wind, like this, to give it to you."
 from Little Rooms
                         by William Stafford

Sunday, July 20, 2014

“I dreamed that I floated at will in the great Ether,
 and I saw this world floating also not far 
off, but diminished to the size of an apple. 
Then an angel took it in his hand and brought it to 
me and said, ‘This must thou eat’. And I ate the world.” 
                                      by Ralph Waldo Emerson 
This post contains photos taken during one canoe trip on the Banana 
slough a crescent shaped body of water in front of our cabin. Sloughs 
or glacial potholes are feed by snow melt and groundwater infill rather
 than actual streams. This means the level fluctuates during period of 
high rainfall or drought. At present it is as high as anyone in the family
 can remember. This has meant lots of waterfowl, this trip, more a one 
hour meander was in early June so we encountered a glaring goose mother,
 and a pair of blackbirds determined top distract us from their nest.

Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
For a drink of written water from a spring
whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?
Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?
Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth,
she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips.
Silence - this word also rustles across the page
and parts the boughs
that have sprouted from the word "woods."

                          from The Joy Of Writing
                                       by Wislawa Szymborska