Naming experience with #poetry. “CORRIDOR” A new #poem

As I wrote in my first post at Peter is in the Forest, I am inviting “you to reflect with me if you’d like. I share because I search for understanding. If you would like to understand, maybe you will join me from time to time.”

I believe art is essential to good life. So I make it. I am not writing to get fans (who writes poetry for fame?). It is not a professional endeavor. I write to explore, evoke, feel sounds and images, to understand in some other-than-rational way. While my poetry explores the things I care about deeply and things I think about rationally, I don’t use poetry rhetorically in a political sense. In Heartwood (forthcoming from Mt. Nittany Press, an imprint of Eifrig Publishing) I evoke racism, climate change, development, and other political issues. Those poems and the draft of “Corridor” that follows on this post, though, aren’t meant to “convince” you of something, of some way to vote or some policy to act on. That’s for other writing.

In writing poetry I uncover teeming life by peering under stones in my experience and naming those experiences. I can’t find that teeming life or those teeming lives by reading about the stone in a book or classifying it as sedimentary, igneous, or metamorphic, nor the stone fly nymph that lives under it. Poetry is naming in one way instead of another, and naming through poetry allows others to name things and dream of a common language of experience, marvel, sensuality, feeling, being lost and finding simultaneously through words and sounds and names. If we have some kind of common language this way, we are connected and less alone. One of my favorite composers, Witold Lutoslawski, said it best. “I would like to find people who in the depths of their souls feel the same way as I do. They are the people who are closest to me, even if I do not know them personally. I regard [poetry] as a kind of soul-fishing, and the ‘catch’ is the best medicine for loneliness, that most human of sufferings.” Maybe we can catch one another by the stones.

– – –

I’ve been drafting this poem for some time. And it’s far from finished. Some never finish. But this is the first draft I feel in any way coheres.


Constant, Roaring Run streams
through uncountable nooks
knowable and unknown to men,

but intimately touched by insatiable nymphs
hungry for their future children.
In and through sound,

we are educed into corridors of light and water
that take safe passage through and into
being us and passing on
to being another being’s

way of being its own passage that is never its
own, but always being borrowed.
Being this animal
becomes being aware of this animal

as the passage of water from
pattering rain on round lobed leaves upstream
before you feel the stream’s soft kiss on your lips

and the thirsty billions in your blood
in the soil,
as the passage of light

into the opaque pupil
preceding the brilliant cave
of the mind where the world meets

itself in fancy and dance,
constructing dreams that die in the oubliette
we burn in effigy or

drown in a deluge of some other experience.
The Earth turns.
The first curve of the sun’s disc

peeks over ridge. A man
kneels at the edge
Queen Anne’s Lace and chicory meet

blueberries and laurel before
the upward thrust of
sap-sticky pines and armored oak,

kneels where nine species of bees, wasps, and
flies feverishly feast on sweet nectar,
one shimmering in the light

its iridescent patina glinting
as it dies in a spider’s web,
kneels feeling the spider’s

hunger as his own,
seeing the blueberries consume
needle-festooned soil

becoming the berry that
enters his body,
breathes in her breath,

kneels knowing
he is
the corridor,

stands and
runs his fingers’ ends in the
crenellated bark’s channels

inviting his body to be
the difference
between the pads and the nails,

between the nail and the bark,
the bark and the lignum,
the lignum and heartwood.

He genuflects and repents,
knowing time in the pollen-rich air,
has already been destroyed

a thousand million times
to feed him and his kind.
In just a few moments,

this land could be stripped by
men in worn denim,
men—yes men—whose calloused

hands will grip plastic-topped shifters a
jam their feet on a bulldozer’s throttle to
punch down the trees

unstitch the soil’s thread into
frays for Yes Men.
Yes, men might would gladly grab

blooming laurel by the back of its neck,
push the deer’s teeth on a curb,
force the toad’s tongues to lick the road salt,

and the tanager to breathe
the sweet antifreeze and thick scent of tar,
and then

they kick, and
kick again until they’ve
broken their jaws, teeth, and necks to build

the walls to the rooms built
to write rules for the winners,
in rooms off of hallways

built for making such
rules, rules written for such rooms
connected to other rooms so

men can unstitch the soil
to build a house which is not a home
but a place ruled by men

next to curbs where
constant, roaring traffic
fills every nook,

but where chicory still stands,
where nymphs are lost,
and the stream is no more.


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