June 12, 2003


More on "Poems that shouldn't be writ"...(6/11/03)

Okay. I wrote one. It is modeled, I guess. I read the first line of Fred Chappell's 'prayer' (below) and the rest came from deep places and brought forth a poem I called "In Living Memory", pulling from some of these 'fragments' written over the past year. One of the premier critics of Appalachian poetry (poetry from Appalachian writers) will hand it back to me by tomorrow. If it isn't shot all to heck, I'll try to overcome my reluctance and post it here. Shoot. Now that you've seen my wedding pictures, why keep secrets.

Poetry is so personal, idiosyncratic, and potentially obscure-- unless and even if you are good at it. I see the place for poetry in my lilliputian literary efforts now better than I have, and expect I will be reading our regional poets more, having been introduced to them for the first time, and using the form on purpose in coming months. My few past poems were accidents, poetic prose chopped into terse lines, after the fact. If nothing else, even if they remain unpublished, hidden but in the mind of the poet-creator, poems are wonderful exercises in words and the sound of words, the shape of ideas and exploration of inner space. (You got any you'd be willing to share? Huh? Dare ya...)

A Prayer for the Mountains by Fred Chappell NOTE: This is NOT the Fred of Fragments...

Let these peaks have happened.

The hawk-haunted knobs and hollers,
The blind coves, blind as meditation, the white
Rock-face, the laurel hells, the terraced pasture ridge
With its broom sedge combed back by wind
Let these have taken place, let them be place.

And where Rich Fork drops uprushing against
Its table stones, let the gray trout
Idle below, its dim plectrum a shadow
That marks the stone's clear shadow.

In the slow glade where sunlight comes through
In circlets and moves from leaf to fallen leaf
Like a tribe of shining bees, let
The milk-flecked fawn lie unseen, unfearing.

Let me lie there too and share the sleep
Of the cool ground's mildest children.

Posted by fred1st at June 12, 2003 06:18 AM | TrackBack

What Walt said:

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward people, re-examine all you've been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul and your very flesh shall be a great poem...

Your poem reminded me of Whitman's words that the leaves ought to be read outside in the open air. That is a very good idea. Keep writing more poems and when you may read them aloud outside for others.

Posted by: steve at June 12, 2003 06:33 AM

Your poem made me cry. I miss the mountains (and Virginia) so much. The Ozarks cannot compare to the beauty of the land of my father's people and the land of my old youth (college: VPI&SU, so commonly known now as Virginia Tech, bah.)

Posted by: Jane at June 12, 2003 10:59 AM

Any Tom Waits fans here? "Innocent When You Dream" and "Cold Cold Ground" come to mind.

Posted by: feste at June 12, 2003 12:44 PM

Any Tom Waits fans here? "Innocent When You Dream" and "Cold Cold Ground" come to mind.

Posted by: feste at June 12, 2003 12:44 PM

It's been a while since a poem has sent me diving for the Oxford American Dictionary. Plectrum? Who knew that that was what one is called? Mr. Chappell has fulfilled the function normally assigned, by me, to The New Yorker. Thank you for posting this marvelous bit of poetry. I imagine Mr. Chappell lovingly hovering over the words, tapping one a bit here and burnishing one a bit there, until they blend to a sublime tapestry.

Posted by: Cop Car at June 14, 2003 12:52 AM

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