Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Garden of Verse: Looking Ahead, and Back, in January's Poems

      My poems in the January 2018 issues of Verse-Virtual look at the recent past, the anticipated future, and a recollection (with some nostalgia) for a distant decade. 
         The recent past for me is the autumn of 2017, and my poem They Fell Without Color is my attempt to deal with the diminished state (and in some cases pure absence) of the typical New England autumnal color that essentially defines the turn of the year from growing season to freezing season. I'm not talking principally about the mountains of New England or the Berkshire Hills, where color was significantly muted but not absent. I'm talking about the street where I live, my neighborhood, my Greater Boston regional location.  My own backyard.
         This was a home truth to me. Some weather pattern, a little too warm at the start, too cold at the end, a second consecutive dry season -- whatever the causes, the season was out of sorts. 
          They Fell Without Color seeks to register that sense of loss. Here's the final stanza:

They fell in the morning, were gone by the eve
No eye marked their turning, by nightfall they leave
They drop like the hour, the loss of the sun
They drop like the rainstorm, dark to our sight
They wrinkle and brown and crumble and fall
And scuttle in gutters, a brown boneless ball
And leave us alone through a long starless night
To ponder a year with the season undone

          To read the whole poem, and my other two poems, see:

           The poem that deals with a more distant past is titled
That 70's Photo. The photo I used to illustrate the poem (seen above) is a view of Bash Bish Falls taken much more recently, back in November, on a visit to the picturesque spot on the Massachusetts and New York border. The visit, our first there in many years, reminded me of wheeling a stroller down that wooded path back in the late seventies when our first child, Sonya, was traveling on wheels rather than on toddler legs. The poem describes that path in this excerpt:

The long leafy way, like a carriage drive
designed for an 18th century gathering
of French grandees costumed as peasants...

           The poem that looks to the future is based on dire report on the future of planet Earth offered in the highly regarded book "The Sixth Extinction" by Elizabeth Kolbert, which I read a few years ago. Titled Sixth Extinction, my poem is largely a 'list poem' addressing the question of what will be lost in the coming, and widely predicted, die-off. Here's an excerpt:

What will disappear?
Toasters, roller coasters
Piled books on the night-table library,
the ever-unread and the old favorites tumbled together,
Star fish, sea urchins, the nautilus cephalopod
Snow-salted East End streets on "Call The Midwife"...

            Not to end on a pessimistic note, hardly any other poems in January's Verse-Virtual are about the end of the world. To see for yourself, go to