Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Writing Lists



In Ray Bradbury’s book Zen in the Art of Writing he makes this statement.
“But along through those years I began to make lists of titles, to put down long lines of nouns. These lists were the provocations, finally, that caused my better stuff to surface.”

I make lists. Lists of words I hear or read, words I hear spoken in the mountains, first lines of songs and poems, and names of towns I travel through. It’s just a natural thing with me. Over the years I’ve made lists for camping trips, bird lists, flower lists and lists of books I’ve read. Filled notebooks with ideas and prompts for writing. The words obsessive, compulsive come to mind, but lists have kept me going as a writer, and have pulled me from times when I thought I couldn’t put another word on paper.

The reason I mention this subject is to introduce the poem I’m going to share and read for you today. It started from a list of scientific terms and branched out from there. What do magnets do? Why do we use mathematics and what is theory? Are any of these metaphors for relationships? How far can one person be from another? All questions that produced a list that walked me into the poem. The last two italic words can be changed to mother/daughter, brother/brother, or may speak of a religious relationship. All would fit, and can make the poem universal.

If you’re a writer, keep lists. They will help when you need inspiration.
Have a wonderful day.

Point of Return

There is a point on the face of the earth
where a person can’t get farther away
without being closer.

Out there, seas and mountains of our
own creation are positioned between
loved ones, and when each moves,
the magnets of indifference
push the other away.

It’s all science, formula,
quotient, similar poles,
until love refuses twisted logic
and in forgiveness
whispers

Father,

and whispers,

Son.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Southern Trail



Well, I’ve been working on the problem of having my poems available to you in an audio file. Maybe I’ve got it worked out.


The poem I’m sharing with you is called Southern Trail. It’s about the road where I lived in Kentucky. For hundreds of years the road had been a trail leading south from the Shawnee Indian lands in Southern Ohio, and continuing on toward the Cherokee lands in Tennessee.


Before I was born the trail had become a road into Kellen Hollow. Many years ago I read about the spring at the mouth of the hollow where a group of men were camped and attacked by the Shawnee with only one escaping.


My Grandfather built our house over that spring. The names of the people in the poem will not be known to many who do not know the history of that region. A wonderful book about that area is called, The Frontiersman by Allan W. Eckert. The three men mentioned were the heroes of the Ohio Valley, where I grew up.


Today the house is gone, the road has been paved, and the name has been changed. The only thing that remains is the Shawnee Spring, still coming from the hillside, still cool and clear.


Southern Trail


Remembering Kentucky,
the Kellen Hollow road,
my first steps there, dirty feet
on the way to the sycamore tree.


The Shawnee Spring had been there,
will be for another thousand years I suspect.
A resting place for Indian and white men
all. Was my first bath and drink,
joining their numbers.


Tecumseh, Kenton, Tygart,
all walked this way along the great trail.


I am just a poet, of no import,
but as a child, and as a man
I have always hoped that I would
someday meet them there
beside that dusty trail.


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