Poéte Maudit

August 3, 2011

It was summer. And I wasn’t thinking about
December: about all that sapless clacking,
about deciduous death.
Nor did I for a minute think about the process
of holding the branches up.
(Hint: Trees do not have muscles.)
And somehow I thought I’d be in a city,
not out here on this lonely perch
overlooking this great expanse of sea.

Truth is, it was more the glory of the leaves
that I was focused on, the flat broad
photosynthesis, the autumnal sun
and shadows; it was more the wet branching growth in
spring rain, the roots digging down in the rocky soil,
the sheer regeneration of it all.
Just think about it, oxygen, always on
the tip of my tongue, the fresh dream of it
filling the night sky, night after night…

So I became a nice hardwood birch tree,
good some day for furniture or for firewood,
and good right now as a tragic guide to
guide us on our trip  through space,
the poéte maudit that lives in us all.
And when a whale breaks the surface
of the great sea, his skin may be raw but
his mind is clear as the ocean’s swell. And the oxygen
he has risen for is from my breath.

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3 Responses to “Poéte Maudit”

  1. John Stevens Says:

    Yes, it was Dover Beach in my mind – partly the lonely perch and the expanse of sea, partly the sense of loss as you move from summer to December … partly the reaching out for a positive message to end on, but you went for the constant regeneration of things. I found that very uplifting. Must have been more than just Vermont!

  2. extrasimile Says:

    I was in Vermont for a few days with—in effect—no Internet. I can’t quite say I felt naked and helpless, but I did sort of miss it (no doubt to my shame). It is nice to hear I can make ‘positive’ work—even if I have to turn myself into a tree to do it—but see the trees in ‘The Imprecision Trees’. They get their grammar so…but no, let’s stick with our pleasant birch for now. A breath of fresh air. Perhaps Vermont was good for me.

    Mathew Arnold? If you’re thinking ‘Dover Beach’ here—and it would have to be because that’s about the only thing I’ve read by Mathew Arnold—along with some of ‘Culture and Anarchy’—I have to say, it wasn’t in my mind. I have to read more Arnold one of these days.

    Hope you had a nice vacation/ holiday. I’ll expect to see a poem about it one of these days… (Hey, no pressure.)

  3. John Stevens Says:

    (I’m catching up after 2 weeks away from the internet).
    “It was summer. And I wasn’t thinking about/ December …” – a good strong opening to a vivid poem. There’s living and dying here; animate and inanimate life; a spot of biology and a touch of 19th century French poetry – and maybe a hint of Matthew Arnold too.
    I love the enthusiasm and optimism of “the sheer regeneration of it all”! That’s what we need, even though the soil be rocky, those roots digging down … In the end, life-affirming!


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