ems of a Solitary Mind

I don't profess to be a poet. I'm not even quite sure what delineates prose from hesitated speech, or poems from TV jingles, or who makes the final call when it comes to "accidental poetry," a bit of text that reads like a poem even though it wasn't written that way.

But I do know that there are certain words or phrases that flash into existence and stay, a permanent firework or frozen bolt of lightening. Caught on my tongue, I find myself rolling them over and over again like a mantra, examining them, dissecting them. They are bits of thought that don't say much, but somehow reach deep into some sensitive piece of the mind, a green sprout with deep roots, unfurling but one, tiny flower.

I don't know what to call these things. Poems? Hardly. Something much less, maybe only "ems." They are more accurately described as "sticky words," because once they lodge into place, I can't seem to forget them. Here is a long-lived one, as an example:

Benedict Pond on September 14th, 2005
So many people leaving
__________________so fast
It's getting dark . . . sort of.

I've been getting a lot of little ems lately. Here's another, while walking along the dike, watching the winter robins:

Robin on a wire
can make
the ugliest fence
a treat.

Every time I look up at the distant hills lately, I hear the phrase, "the Western hills and rivers..." and so I tried to make something more out of it.

The Western hills and rivers
are wild beyond reproach
But oceans turn to islands
where works of men encroach

The Western hills and rivers
are vast and green and grand
But islands turn to outlines
where loosed the works of man

The Western hills and rivers
are silver in the dawn
are golden in the evening
by nightfall, they are gone.

Some more expanded ems:

These winter days are too damn short.
____ I sleep before I wake.
The days flash, the sun has no shame
____ that the moon lingers past its time.

My dog smacks his lips like an old man
in his sleep.
And I, tireless, stroke him on the ear
and think of open times, running times,
Times of deer and pigeon
Boundless, winded, weaving trails
and scents brought on the wind.
I am having the dreams of my dog.

Do you realize
when you bend to pick the pebble,
that smooth pebble, all rubbed with age
and agate specks, and flashing flecks of silver
in the stones around it,
Quartz, gray dots of granite,
black from the ancient forge,

crumbling yellow sandstone
ground beneath your foot unseen

Round stones, sharp stones,
embedded in the soil,
tiled against each other,
layer on layer,
measuring days, remembering years
beyond the breadth of man.
Do you realize,
you fleeting moment,
you mortal ghost,
with young hand, fast heart,
distant eyes
so blind to the labors of the earth,
the indignities of being thrown against a lady’s window?

Yeah, I know, no Poet Laureate am I. It beats reading the back of a cereal box, anyhow.


-W- said...

I really love your "ems," Kt! They are lovely, and remind me quite a bit of Jack Kerouac's American Haiku.

tizzy said...

ems? What a cute name. KT, I love reading your blog. For the past month, I've dutifully picked up my hard cover books and read them each night. Tonight, I am catching up on blogs and the writing quality of your blog far exceeds that of the most recent books I've been reading. I commend you on your style and am grateful to be able to read your amusing thoughts and wonderful insight.