Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Garden of the 'Deep': Three Seasonal Poems on Verse-Virtual



            Of the three poems of mine that went up on Verse-Virtual.com earlier this week, one of them, "Camp October," has a formal structure, not exactly a first for me, but a bit of a rarity.
            We've spent a lot of our Octobers over the years in the Stockbridge summer home of Anne's parents, so that's where the title comes from. October also suggests some of the imagery, particularly the color 'red.' In this poem October, the month of seasonal transformation, stands for personal change and growth. And that in turn is where the poem's "lava lamp" comes from, a decorative toy device that in my day at least was always red (like turning leaves and early sunsets) and always changing shape.
            "Summer camp," in contrast, stands for childhood and the possibilities of personal drama in this stage in life, which in my case were nil. The poem begins:
I never went to summer camp
I honed a childhood in the lots
The moon, if it was there at all,
tied up other minds in knots
            The rest of the poem is not about any specific thing, place, moment in time, or person, but about change and growth generally. It can be read pretty simply as a symbolic vessel: just add your own personal content. The great thing about tight poetic form is it tends to make things sound good.
              The second poem of the three ("Call to Prayer") is simply a description of the fall of evening in a populated place. The concrete details all come from memories of night falling in Beirut. The temperature tends to be mild (not hot) when we're there, so we may be sitting on the balcony, or indoors with the windows open, when night comes on and can list to the progress of day's end: voices, children, cars, prayer.
             The final poem "Into the Deep" is an attempt to find some words for the way people feel in our northern, temperate climate when the temperature drops and the sun sinks low. It's the "deep" season for me, because plants die, leaves drop, but life is preserved underground at the roots. The poem's concluding image of the ancient oak tree grinning at all the angst and running around on the surface (what fools these mortals be) was suggested by the tree stump we came across on a walk in the Blue Hills, the image seen in the photo at the bottom of the page.
            If you have a chance please take a look at the poems at this link: http://www.verse-virtual.com/robert-c-knox-2015-december.html