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Selected Podpieces

VCCA Haiku & Advice for A New Reader

Leaving VCCA

In March, 2009, I spent three weeks in Sweet Briar, Virginia, as a writing Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (a.k.a. VCCA). I started each day by writing a haiku, or some facsimile, to focus the mind on pen and page. Here are some results.

The silence changes
Fields and drowsy cows inhale –
Train is imminent

Glowing scarlet bird
Self-contained in snowy scene
Unruffled by me

Over and over
Mockingbird states his terms –
Sweet jasmine in the sleet

Logging rig lumbers
Up Sawlog Lane, so I wait –
Both of us getting going

Sunrise over sawmill
Freight train waiting for green light
Woodchucks sleeping in

Frost blankets the grass
Pale daffodils squeeze eyes shut
First full day of spring

Great Bear overhead
Sharp moon-slice above the field
Turn out the other lights!

Computer crashes
Two weeks of work down the tubes
Go walk in the woods

Starling crowds cry
Day and night on my brain’s rim –
Invasive tinnitus

Man from Illinois
Spreads his seed at my door
Juncos are cheering

I dream of French toast
Morning chef crashes and sings
Loud-mouthed man of my dreams

Robins ornament
the apple tree in the fog
New leaves at branch tips

Back from early walk
Signs of passage through wet grass
My own early footprints

What makes people write?
Nine hay bales on the green truck
Birds clamor for spring



Begin your own reading with Auden's
"Musee des Beaux Arts."
All of them read it in high school
and it makes them feel good
to remember a beautiful poem
that they understand. It's even
how each of them feels sometimes:
that she nearly got to the sun, and then
she turned fifty; or he didn't get tenure;
or her daughter never really came home;
or he simply lost interest, his energy
melted away; and despite their achievements,
despite their own glorious arcs,
someday the glassy green swell of the sea
will close silently over them all. Yet
it's amazing, that simple arrangement
of words on the page; and to hear it
will fill them with hope and desire.
Look up from your paper. You have them.
Now, you start reading your work.

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