Wednesday, September 24, 2008

To Seattle by train:

House forlorn,
its people fading
with its paint.

The old house -
bones picked clean
by time, wind.

Ghost towns?
Even the ghosts parched
by unending winds.

Rolling hills
grey-tan-brown after harvest -
yet every watering hole
filled with birds - in
end-of-summer contentment.

So few to bury
in the sweep of hills -
lone cemetery.

Yellow leaves, fall turning,
light up the hillside and valley
in spite of fog and rain.

Montana -
fenced buffalo roam and
antelope play.

Tall and spare,
pine hungry for sky
grows up not out.

Line of pines
edging the ridge -
first to fall?

A line of pines,
poised, waiting at the edge
like swimmers.

Frail toe-hold,
poised like swimmers,
a line of pines.

Worn dust paths -
generations of cattle
to the water hole.

At the museum, for a calligrapher:

Calm and focused,
mistakes will be fewer,
each mark true.

(Via Amtrak to Seattle, 9-08)

The understanding and appreciation for life that is present in [Paul] Zimmer’s newer poems is in its larval stage in his older poems. Instead of the comfort with mortality that we see in the last lines of a newer poem, “Desiderium” (“The unfaltering sunlit parade / Of faithful moving toward God” reminiscent of, though contrasting Sexton’s The Awful Rowing Towards God), we see a fear of death or growing old that precedes its acceptance.

Review of Passing to Sunlight Revisited by Melinda Wilson in Coldfront

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mr. [Stanley] Kunitz was regarded as a mentor to many poets, including two future poet laureates, Louise Gluck and Robert Hass, as well as Sylvia Plath.

"Essentially," he once said, "what I try to do is to help each person rediscover the poet within himself. I say 'rediscover,' because I am convinced that it is a universal human attribute to want to play with words, to beat out rhythms, to fashion images, to tell a story, to construct forms."

He added: "The key is always in his possession: what prevents him from using it is mainly inertia, the stultification of the senses as a result of our one-sided educational conditioning and the fear of being made ridiculous or ashamed by the exposure of his feelings."

(from Kunitz's obituary in the Washington Post, 2006)