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Short poem

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January 9, 2008

Hear the year begin

with a harsh and damaging wind,

a dangerous dark groan.

History is wrenched

from its towering edifice

to splinter in the gale.

*****

Every so often I write poetry. I'm not able to do it with regularity. When I try to, the poems seem to increase in mediocrity and I leave off. Usually something I read or see gets me started but then I am unable to sustain the energy involved.

I wrote the above after reading He Held Radical Light that I found in a book I came across titled "The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry" that has the work of 65 poets from the 20th century. Each poem I've read from this book so far has been subtle and interesting. Poets like Howard Nemerov, Richard Wilber, Anne Sexton, Donald Justice.

What makes for a compelling poem is the poet's ability to take an idea and connect it with something unexpected so it can be seen as an idea, maybe for the first time. That is our best feature I think. We make connections that other animals and our computing machines can't do, at least so far.

*****

Howard Nemerov

Because You Asked about the Line between Prose and Poetry

Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle

That while you watched turned into pieces of snow

Riding a gradient invisible

From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.

There came a moment that you couldn't tell.

And then they clearly flew instead of fell.


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I really enjoyed Nemerov's lines. I almost read them like the story of the butterfly in Zhuangzi: maybe we spend so much time trying to make distinctions that we miss the experience we're desperate to describe? It's in this light that I read your stanza about history; the only thing I'm not sure about is whether it's a wrenching or a more natural and unavoidable falling, if that makes sense.Thanks for your blogging here. :p

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