Saturday, February 06, 2010

Five Seven Five

With the energy and optimism of youth, a young man here in town organized a poetry night at our local library. It sounded like something different and fun to do on a cold February evening. I wouldn't call myself a big fan of poetry, but at times I find resonance in the work of some poets like Robert Frost, Donald Hall or Gary Snyder. There were six of us, and I thought that was a pretty good turnout for a place where everybody is always too busy. It was fun and stimulating. I met a few new people and got re-acquainted with some old friends.

I didn't want to go empty-handed, and since the closest thing to poetry I had to offer was a handful of haikus that I've put in this blog in the past, I went through my old posts and jotted them down. About all I know about haiku is that, in one form, there are three lines, the first and last lines have five syllables and the middle one has seven. That length is appropriate for my attention span, and I like to have some simple rule to follow.

These little poems brought back memories, both fond and bittersweet, so I decided to collect all of them in one place. Each one is accompanied by a little background about the moment they came to me. The dates refer to the blog posts where they first appeared.

May on the Deck
May 2007

I like to think about the cycle of seasons and how it affects the natural world around us. Every summer on May first, the chimney swifts return to Sharon to zoom and twitter overhead all summer long. On September first, they are gone. Also in May, the catbirds return to nest in the overgrown and unruly clump of forsythia in my backyard. I love to sit on the deck on a warm May afternoon watching formations of swifts flying their patrols over the house and listening to the catbirds mewing from the green depths of the shrubbery. It makes me feel like the world will be OK for at least one more season.

chimney swift catbird

sky above forsythia

good to have them home

Running to Another Place
June 2006

One of my regular runs takes me from home, through the town center, and over the tracks to the road up Moose Hill. On a good day, my body will feel efficient and my stride will be smooth. As the pumping blood washes over my brain I can get lost in dreams and, at times, I feel like there are secrets in the forest and that maybe a little bird - like the wood peewee - might be trying to share them with me.

Warm summer rain run.

Endorphins bathe open mind.

Pewee calls from woods.

Cold Blood
June 2007

Often times on these Moose Hill runs, roadkill is a reminder of life and death and the way we can crush the natural world beneath our feet and machines. One warm, damp late spring morning, following an overnight thunderstorm after a long dry spell I came across a big bullfrog that had me wishing we could all slow down and be more careful when we drive.

Rain lets bullfrog move

Warm road feels good to cold blood

Driver does not care.

How Quickly We Fall
June 2007

In 2007, I was trying my best to recover from prostate cancer surgery. (Everything is fine now, thanks.) My recovery was not going well, and in fact, I was feeling sicker and weaker all the time. What I didn't know at the time was that I was coming down with a nasty case of Lyme disease, totally unrelated to my surgery. I was confused, frustrated and depressed.

Having had almost no exercise for about seven weeks, I decided to hike to the summit of Moose Hill. While I was reaching for life, once again it didn’t take long to be reminded of death by roadkill as I turned onto Moose Hill Parkway.

Shagbark hickory.

Squirrel tempted by crushed nuts.

One last fatal bite.

Walker sees squirrel.

Maggots dine on rotting flesh.

No life is wasted.

This brought to mind the writings of Gary Snyder where he reminds us that all death nourishes new life.

As I climbed, I felt sicker and weaker. It was hot and dry and trees were dropping leaves prematurely. I was thinking of seasons - and lives - ending before their time.

When does youth turn old?

Like summer turning to fall,

We want to hold on.

How will we turn old? Will it strike overnight like a sudden hard freeze? Or will youth slip away gradually like summer slipping quietly, barely noticed, into fall?

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At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Rhodoy said...

Lots of little things that are ignored, temporarily it is very influential on our lives.
Congratulations poetry ...


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