I claimed before that as a child, I lived in the trees. At least, I tried. In Decatur, Illinois, where I did most of my growing up, there was a mulberry tree in our backyard where I spent many a summer day. Both me and the books I smuggled out of the house and up the tree with me came down at the end of the day, in season of course, stained from head to toe, frontispiece to end papers, with mulberry juice. Read more about Sitting In Trees
That's what I thought when I first read Robert Frost's poem, Birches. I spent my childhood in the trees. Usually I'd find a cozy corner on a juncture of limb and trunk where I could read and dream the day away. But sometimes I would climb on up and up and up to the tallest, most spindly branches I could reach, where I could see out over the canopy and let the wind rock me back and forth.
I don't think I ever climbed a birch. I don't know why. Read more about Wish I'd Thought of That
It's probably the most reviled poem in the English language, and for good reason. It's bad science, bad theology, and bad poetry. It probably gives trees a bad name, too. But it is, for all that, the one poem about trees that people remember. And the first two lines aren't too bad. Alfred Joyce Kilmer was killed at the Second Battle of the Marne in 1918. For which sacrifice we should be grateful. In oh so many ways. Read more about Speaking of Trees
I have seen them in grown-over clearings in the woods, lilacs where no domestic flower should grow. I am told they mark the place where once a cabin stood and the lilac, carefully tended from a place further east and holding within its roots the scent of home, was planted in the dooryard.
Is there another flower of May so well loved as Lilac?
By Amy Lowell
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Color of lilac,
Your great puffs of flowers
Years ago, when a friend of mine was sent to prison for growing marijuana, I joined FAMM, Families Against Mandatory Minimums. Because my friend, on a first-time offense, was given a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years. A story for another time, but I wanted to explain why I spent a summer tabling at the summer fairs, handing out literature for FAMM in the early 90's. Collecting signatures on a petition. And the reason that some folks, although they were very sympathetic to the cause of marijuana, balked at another one of FAMM's goals. Read more about The Lives of Others
A long-ago lover once argued against the value of statistics in dictating a course of action by citing the case of a man killed in bed by a meteorite. The statistical chances of it happening, he told me, were very slim, but that slim chance meant nothing to the dead man. Read more about Who, Me? Worry?
Read more about Follow the Hounds!
TWO TRAMPS IN MUD TIME
(The third stanza brings to mind my own April poem, the first I chose for this year, and so closes the circle.)
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Out of the mud two strangers came
And caught me splitting wood in the yard,
And one of them put me off my aim
By hailing cheerily "Hit them hard!"
I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind
And let the other go on a way.
I knew pretty well what he had in mind:
He wanted to take my job for pay.
Good blocks of oak it was I split,
What is it about April? My two favorite long poems begin with April.
I. THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD
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APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee