Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.
Years ago I heard my first William Stafford poem on the radio program Writer’s Almanac. Garrison Keillor mentioned that Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas in 1914 and I was curious to know more about him. Much to my surprise he had graduated from Liberal High School, my high school, but I don’t remember ever hearing him mentioned. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention.
I’ve been looking for the perfect poem of his to share but have been unable to find the one about minnows that I wanted to post. The one linked below is a new one to me, a chance encounter on a dark road.
Traveling through the Dark
Jays land on the muscles of his branches, breasts high,
Churning their infinite tones. Spiders trace a path
along his long legs, up the dusty window of his body.
The forest man spells of pine and chocolate mints.
The piñon trees in my yard and around town are dying. Not all of them, but enough of them to be alarming. Too hot, too many years of drought—I will miss them and wonder where the birds will go. Check out the entire poem here.
Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house
My housekeeping philosophy until the imminent arrival of company. Time to get out the dust mop—all spiders have got to go!
An Alternate Route
Nature (unlike some
treats us like adults:
we must discover all
its glory by ourselves.
Imagine how disheartening
if wandering inside this
intricate wood we came upon
small placards reading—
TURN LEFT for Quaking Aspen.
MERGING STREAM AHEAD.
SLOW DOWN: Strawberries.
I found this poem in the Poetry Issue of our local weekly, The Santa Fe Reporter. It was my favorite of the bunch and makes me feel like I need to get outside, see what’s new.
a big-nosed roan gelding, calm as a president’s portrait
lives in the rectangle that leads to the stalls. We call it
the motel lobby. Wise old campaigner, he dunks his
hay in the water bucket to soften it, then visits the others
who hang their heads over their dutch doors. Sometimes
he sprawls out flat to nap in his commodious quarters.
One of my favorites—a poem about a horse named Jack and so much more.
The little goats like my mouth and fingers,
and one stands up against the wire fence, and taps on the fence board
a hoof made blacker by the dirt of the field.
I discovered Pescadero and Mark Doty in The New Yorker. The magazine recently launched a new feature on Twitter, a poem a day from their archives. Check it out at @tnypoetry.
Yes. I know my formatting was messed up on yesterday’s poem-—the trials of trying to post from a smart phone. It’s fixed now.
“Why don’t you turn at the next corner,”
she said, “and take another road home.
Let’s go past that farm with all the
different colored lilacs.”
Did I mention I was going to take a break from poetry or at least blogging about poetry for the weekend? I needed time to gather the books of poems strewn around the house–on the kitchen table, under the bed, buried in stacks of newspapers–and to think about where I was after seven days of verse.
Four Kinds of Lilacs seems like a good place to pick it up again. I’ve been in Santa Fe for almost twenty years, but I’m always surprised when the purple clusters begin to show themselves in April. In western Kansas where I grew up they lag by several weeks (or at least they used to), making them the perfect May Day flower. As a kid, I filled baskets made of colored construction paper with lilacs and candy, dropped them on neighbors’ porches, rang the bell, and ran.
Friday night I stepped off the sidewalk and into a flowerbed downtown to catch a whiff of a just-opened blossom. It smelled like spring.
Why have you chosen to punish the coyote
rummaging for chicken bones in the dung heap,
shucked the fur from his tail
and fashioned it into a scabby cane?
Photo By: Paula Nixon
I said no photos but couldn’t resist posting this one again. It goes so well with today’s poem, Coyote, with Mange.
My little corner of New Mexico would not be the same without our native canid. This year our state legislature came close to banning coyote killing contests, but it didn’t happen. The bill passed three committees and the Senate, but died at the end of the session before it made it to a vote on the floor of the House.
Maybe next year.
a fainting, ghostly presence
with a tail so naked it was
embarrassed to drag behind him.
My mother-in-law and I sat at the kitchen table. She was eating oatmeal while I read Possum in the Garbage aloud. Mary doesn’t say much, so I wasn’t sure if she liked the poem or not. She has her favorites, many memorized in grammar school back in New Jersey. Somewhere, I have a recording of her reciting Wordsworth’s I wandered lonely as a cloud.
A moose has come out of
the impenetrable wood
and stands there, looms, rather,
in the middle of the road.
It approaches; it sniffs at
the bus’s hot hood.
Looking back, I can’t remember how I got into a conversation about a moose with a complete stranger at my local grocery store. We were both juggling an armful of stuff in the 15-items-or-less line and found ourselves comparing notes on the animals we had seen on trips to Yellowstone. Elk, coyote, buffalo. But it was the moose, she told me, that made her cry.
The Moose is a long poem, like the bus trip it describes, but it’s worth the journey through the stanzas for the reward at the end.