On Friday I hiked the portion of North Carolina’s Mountains to Sea Trail that runs along the Eno River, about nine miles from Roxboro Road in Durham through West Point on the Eno Park, across Guess Road into the Eno River State Park, and then to Pleasant Green in Orange County. One day, when the trail is complete, I hope to hike the whole state. For the moment, this will have to do.
These are my snapsnots from the walk.
The rains part like a curtain; the underbrush
Stirs with sultry buzz and hum. Summer?
Goose on the river watches my confusion:
Which way the trail? Which hue the blaze?
He’s not telling.
I sit and rest by spring’s last bluets,
Pale and drooping in the summer heat.
The sycamore leans out over the river,
Stretched root to branch like a diver ready to leap,
Stripping his bark as he goes.
Swallowtails loop around the weeds
In search of some forgotten nectar,
While laurel clings to rocks above. Continue reading “Nine miles along the Eno River”
If you’re new to this, read the Cheap Poetry Manifesto.
Scattered on the path, the maple blossoms
Drops of blood shed by the spring’s new birthing.
The rain will wash it clean, baptize the season.
The infant leaves, so pale and paper-smooth,
Uninked by summer, by insects yet unbitten,
Still bear the hope of every imaginable season:
A book that pleases most while yet unwritten.
Loblolly, lo unfaithful pine
Spills his seed upon the breeze,
Films in yellow yours and mine
And maketh every one to sneeze.
Some birds have songs that ring out like a bell tone,
But the wood thrush rings, I think, more like a cell phone.
I turn on the game: It’s 14 to 2,
The other guys. What is a Phils fan to do
With 8 runs to Halladay, 4 charged to Durbin?
Put down that beer, friend, and go for the bourbon.
Your wobbly letters on the little jars,
The i’s like lollypops, the g’s like smiles,
From your younger self alert the nose:
This one cumin, that one coriander,
Saffron, sumac, cardamom, paprika–
No, that’s cayenne, dad! –Lighthearted warning
To which (as to so many of your words)
I might have listened.
It was a slow winter for poetry, but here’s the roundup. If you’re new to this, read the Cheap Poetry Manifesto.
The decorations are put away in pieces and in bitses
but the holiday ain’t over ’til we eat the Christmas citrus.
Despite the ululations
of nine year-old relations
that I know,
It just won’t snow.
Through the office window I hear
A trill so fine and dandy
I know whene’er it greets my ear
The birds are getting randy. Continue reading “Cheap poetry, January–March”
Damn you, sirs! My vote is not my voice!
—He cried in futile fury at his email—
As if for quadrennia I silent slumbered
And woke to make myself a number!
A vote is a mere puny choice
Of wan capitulations offered retail:
But my voice is the howl of the lonely wind
Failing to sway the barren trees;
The echo of a squirrel’s endless chatter,
The dove’s meek coo, the storm’s great clatter,
And the hum of a thousand angry bees
That dance in the air with a single mind.
My voice is the song of a crosscut saw,
The crash of canopies rent and torn,
And the requiem for a single leaf that falls
Alighting soundless on the forest floor.
My voice is the horn that blaring saves
The sinking ship from the roaring waves!
The laughter of children in spring-clad sun
And the sigh of a dandelion scattering its seeds!
My voice is the voice — the voice — the voice of a man who needs
A good stiff drink. —And so he had one.
(Mental note:) To remember, on some soggy distant morn
This peering over moss, together bent
And an olive tendril in your gentle hand
These autumn days flee into the bluing sky
Like bubbles from the hands of laughing children,
Their coruscation bursting in our grasp.
Closeted in darkness deep
While tiny families mourn and weep
Death purrs upon a quilt, asleep. Continue reading “Cheap poetry, October 22–31”
A carpet of decay, as finely woven
As any ancient treasure dearly bought,
And lovelier for being more ephemeral:
All the artisans of Kublai Khan
In all the workshops of a mythic continent
Could not invent geometry so fair
As seven fallen oak leaves. Yet no one sees,
So none stand guard to make me wipe my feet
Before I walk on it.
Its ruby goblet dry, the summer flies
On wings that beat the hastening pace of time
But pauses here for one last sip. Remember
Well this welcome banquet. Come again.
You lie! My thoughts cannot be captured:
They prowl the woods on padded feet
And saunter boldly down the street
(And sing a polyphonic suite)
And fly away in rapture. Continue reading “Cheap poetry, October 4–16”
Summer is a most untidy guest,
A vacation rental every landlord dreads:
Crumbs all over the floor, attracting pests,
Insects and mice of which we can’t be rid
Without some icy extermination. Look
At all this filth! This vile disgusting mixture
Of excrement and dirt in every nook.
Cobwebs stringing sticky from the fixtures.
And the clutter! The crap he collects, like some fanatic–
Pine cones, bird bones, leaves in piles ascend
Like unread magazines all stuffed in attics
Of trees. And at the season’s withered end
He packs his bag, drives off, skips the scene,
Leaves no forwarding address. Expects the chill
Wind and rain of autumn to sweep it clean.
I shouldn’t have to put up with this. Still–
Without him, it’d be awfully quiet round here.
I guess we’ll have him back again next year.
From his hands a melody unfolds
That flits like butterflies through hastening crowd
Seeking stillness on which to alight.
Summer’s fire sags like an overripe peach
And bursting on October’s horizon, splatters
Cool evening across the sky. Continue reading “Cheap poetry, September 26–October 2”