Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Air Like Fog ...

I'll always remember those bluffs, those canyons they embraced, the cool air on the trails, the kind of quiet that is only found in the woods.

Giant City State Park, located in the hills of Southern Illinois, seemed an almost magical place to go when I was a child. What a treat it was to trudge those trails, imagining all the others who had walked there before, when it was all wilderness.

As a child I relished family outings there, especially those which extended into the evening, when we'd sit around, watching the crackling flames dancing in a fireplace in one of the shelters, listening to the adults trading stories, hoping to catch some of the night sounds of the woods, too.

Later, I took my own young family there to camp, to go tramping down the same trails I had explored, to let them feast on the same sights and sounds I had enjoyed.

In more recent years, when there were just the two of us on trips back to the place where I grew up, we always managed at least a drive through the park. Those drives rekindled so many memories ... so many ...

This poem, which embodies some of those memories, is part of my first collection, Chance of Rain, published by Finishing Line Press:

Air Like Fog

Morning air clings to me like fog

as I enter the deep, cool canyons

that thread the water-rounded bluffs,

where I pause for a moment to look

about, to drink an ancient silence

that flows and deepens while lichens

struggle up the pocked, towering walls,

up, up toward a swallow's nest, high

where clinging ferns await the random

blessings of summer shade and transient

yellow light; then I notice soft-edged

flecks of light dancing on the trail

where others must have stood watching,

where they may have heard, as I do now,

a crow, distant, calling them by name.

© 2005


Today's word: crackling

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Running the Hurdles ...

I know, I know ... two wrongs don't make a right, right? Still, I was struck by how two mistakes ... little ones, mind you ... came together to provide today's entry.

First the photo. I had a new camera. Who hasn't fiddled with a new toy, trying to figure out how it works, without all the bother of reading a lot of boring, technical stuff?

I knew it had some kind of gizmo that would allow me to take my own picture, or appear in the photo with others, if I chose. But I wasn't exactly sure how it worked.

I pushed a few buttons and set the camera on a nearby shelf. I waited. I waited and waited. Nothing seemed to be happening. I decided to take a look to see what was wrong. At that instant, I heard a tiny z-z-z-z-zip, and I was recorded for posterity.

Blurred, but recorded.

The poem, I think, cries out for more poetic detail ... and more detail would call for more than its eight short lines could deliver. The poem may, in fact, have been longer when it was first written ... but I was under the mistaken impression that Capper's only published eight-line poems.

So there you have it, the story of two mistakes coming together to make today's entry.

Running the Hurdles

Have you

ever noticed

how many more

things go wrong

when you're trying

to get away

early, or make up

for lost time?

© 1997


Today's word: gizmo

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Haiku #75 ...

I lived along a lightly graveled road, way back then.

The tires of passing cars and trucks didn't really sing to themselves there. It was more of a rumbling sound, especially with the trucks loaded with produce which would eventually end up in some distant city.

It was something of an experience to hear tires singing on the stretch of blacktopped road leading into the village ... or better yet, on "the hard road," U.S. Highway 51, which ran through town.

I'll never forget hearing that on one of the hottest days in the hottest part of summer. I just closed my eyes and listened. It really did sound like a distant, steady frying noise.

Perhaps it was the combination of hot pavement and travel-heated tires, the density of that moist summer air, or simply my young imagination, but it was definitely a haiku moment, long before I knew what a haiku was.

This one was originally published in Capper's:

sitting in the shade

listening to the traffic

making frying sounds

© 1995


Today's word: frying

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Catching a Wave ...

I don't think I was intended to be a morning person. Mornings have always been a struggle for me.

I know, I know. Morning is the best part of the day for the writer. Other concerns have not begun to intrude. The house is quiet. The brain is rested, ready to rev. Here's a whole new day beckoning.

But for me it's ... well, it's just morning. It takes me a little while to build some momentum.

I roll over, get one foot on the floor, then the other. I stand. I go teetering off in the general direction of the keyboard. I find the switch, flick it on.

By this time I have both eyes open. Things are starting to come into focus. And then, look out. Oh, look out! I'm starting to roll. I may be writing soon.

This one was first published in Capper's:

Catching a Wave

Down the avenues of my early-morning

mind zooms a flood of crowded, honking

thoughts that seek a place to park.

Im too tired to direct traffic, too stressed

to sort them out. That must wait till later,

tongue losing its taste of suede, on the

verge of talk. But then theyre gone, not

a thought in sight, not a word of that

early-morning roar. Perhaps tomorrow.

© 1999

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Thank you, punky. I wouldn't want this to become a divisive public issue, but it's nice to know someone else feels the same way I do about mornings.

Oh, those lost thoughts, Faye, as you know, are such fragile things. Just a slight touch of neglect and - POOF! - they're gone. I've learned that the hard way. Still, a little investment of a scrap of paper, a little time, and they can be rescued. Easier said than done, of course.


Today's word: momentum