Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Wolves I Feed

Ahem. Gentle nudges have come my way recently via cyberspace, hinting that I mention poetry in my blog but never post a poem. Actually, I promise THOUGHTS on prose and poetry, but guess I can be brave and post a poem. I've been working on a book of poetry for a long time now "by spells and spurts" as Mother used to say -- taking my time. The Wolves I Feed is the working title, taken from an old Cheyenne parable in which an elder teaches children that the wolf they feed becomes strongest. That is, whether they feed hate, anger, envy, and cruelty or love, forgiveness, joy, and kindness, that part of them grows and thrives. Like most humans, I've occasionally fed the wrong wolves and my poetry reflects that. This book of poetry may never be published. In truth, my poetry is raw and undisciplined, but to satisfy those wishing for samples of my work, I've chosen one that's had positive comments from critics. This poem originally appeared in The Nisqually Delta Review:


Today my memory celebrates
low rolling ancient mountains folded
in upon themselves, fog fingers rising,
swirling, creeping through the hollers
in a dance primordial. My first vision
of those wild Kentucky mountains
haunts me. Back then my heart and expectations
changed, expanded to absorb the sight
of fog and forested granite wonders.

Skin remembers that first misty baptism.
Ears recall the sound of dripping branches
in the forest, nose breathes the scent of leaves decaying
underfoot. And there was silence broken
only by the muffled sound of squirrels seeking
walnuts and birds skittering from limb to limb.
Deep in the woods the sounds of motors
or a din of human voices couldn't penetrate.
Spirits walked the forests. I could feel them.

We can't go back except in fragments
of fond memory. The mountains have been gashed
and dynamited into gravel, making way for modern
roads. And those insulating forests
are no longer havens for the fog, the birds
and squirrels or me. They've been leveled,
clear-cut, eliminated, leaving an open wound
upon the mountain that even time,
my prayers, or hope can't heal.

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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