Though I’m known as a writer of fiction, I’ve also been writing and publishing poetry since the mid-1970s. I love poetry. Writing poetry is, for me, both joyous and freeing. At this point in my life and career, I am shifting back to it, making it my focus. From now, you will find some of my yet unpublished poems, plus some new ones. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy writing them.
Scottish poet Kenneth White calls poetry the shortest form of short story. What I like about poetry is the ability to say much in a few well chosen words. In his poem “Images of Misty City,” he begins: “Betty’s Bar the Ship Inn / Dick’s Bar the Dublin Vaults / Saturday
nights, the Broomielaw / pink ‘papers fluttering at the corners / like exotic birds.”
He writes vividly of seacoasts and seabirds, adventurers, wanderings, and companionship, as in his poem Road Fragment: “My thanks for this handful of April days / for the white wind blowing / for the dark earth and the tangled grass / and the woman beside me walking” The last line, lacking a period, is left open.
In her poem “Would I be enough for you?” Stella Evelyne Tesha writes “When you look at me everyday, / Do you see me as your true love? / One whom you can love forever, / One who you can cherish and care for? / Would I be enough for you?” Would I, would you? The question is left open, as it often is in life.
In “Green Gossip,” poet Wendy Jean MacLean writes: “Did you hear your name
in the forest? / windswept / in the ancient boughs? / suspect /in the green gossip?” When you go there next, listen . . . do you hear it?
Poet Joe Wilkins remembers a camp of vagrants in a fire-lit rock cave, “how they leaned into everything,” and laughed “like blackbirds rising across a sky.”
Words: for poet Ioana Petrescu, they are “Parts of me / on a journey.” That’s what they are for all of us, and it is magical.
And now, here are some of mine.
~ ~ ~
Another gorgeous, sunny day.
Three hawks circle silently
Days and nights
The days move
while the nights move slowly
and are filled with dreams.
Family talking all around me in Japanese.
I listen, then read and take notes,
listening to the sounds
their voices make
in the silence.
—Kushiro, at Shigeru’s house
A manufacturer’s rep at a cluster bomb show
explains on camera how these weapons are designed
to avoid civilian targets and focus only on military ones
seen from thousands of feet above.
He looks into the camera’s eye
and says in all seriousness,
like a man delivering a sermon
that “these weapons are very effective
and are available to anyone with cash
and the proper credentials,” as if the
transaction is the kind of behavior
that ordinary, sensible people engage in
every day. Canisters filled with violence
are marketed like the latest model toaster,
very effective in providing toast, and without
the cleanup older models required.
They do provide toast … in a way.
What does this say about us as a society,
as men and women that we can explain such
weapons so blandly, as if they are nothing?
What does it say about our future as a species,
about the winsomeness of hope in a small child’s
eyes; the wail of a mother and father
as they look around them at the dead and dying?
What does it say about you and about me?
~ ~ ~
Kenneth White: Open World: The Collected Poems 1969-2000, pages 5 and 102.
Ioana Petrescu: Persuading Plato, page 64.
Stella Evelyne Tesha: A Journey Into Life, page 8.
Wendy Jean MacLean: Spirit Song in Ancient Boughs, page 2.
Joe Wilkins: Notes From The Journey Westward, page 47.