Thursday, October 13, 2016

POETRY FRIDAY: "Strange Pavement"

I love Robert Francis’s poems, and his gorgeous “The Sound I Listened For” (click the link to read it) is an unrhymed hexameter sonnet with six-beat lines, a very challenging measure to have sound natural when pentameter (lines with five strong stresses) is so ubiquitous in English. Here’s my attempt at the form, a memory from the years I commuted to Boston:

Strange Pavement

Young girls or geometric punks drew hopscotch squares
Across this stretch of pavement where I walk to work
Most mornings from the train. It must have been at dawn,
Or maybe overnight, before the early joggers
Scattered the chalk and scuffed away the double cross.
They left no names, forgot to scribble numbers in
Each block, so something might have interrupted them.
I keep on using plurals, but the they could be
A she, a he, a street artiste outside alone
Kneeling and making perfect squares in purple chalk
By flashlight as a code, or as a dare to us:
A bottle cap, a rock, is all you need to play.
I toss a dime and jump five spaces to retrieve it,
Then leave it there so someone else can take a turn.

© 2016 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

P.S. Here's a link to a radio recording of the late Robert Francis, America's "best neglected poet," as Robert Frost had it, reading poems. I admire poet Henry Lyman for producing these broadcasts for more than two decades in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

POETRY FRIDAY: "Beach Road Fox"

This short lyric is a mix of memory and imagination. It is also an homage to Robert Frost, whose work I've been reading closely. Thought it out for two weeks, wrote it in two hours. Hope you enjoy.

Beach Road Fox
An ocean fog brings foxes out by day,
And, driving home, I scare one on its way
To meet a rabbit for an early meal,
A splotch of rust the light’s too dim to name
True red, its tail a curl of orange peel
Or the guttering appendage of a flame.
For spotting one, it’s not as if I owe
More than a look, but nearer now I slow
The car to watch it disappear among
Beach rose bushes there along the road
(A fox’s only debt is to its young)
In loping imitation of a toad.

© 2016 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

Thursday, July 21, 2016

POETRY FRIDAY: "Eating the Sky"

Eating the Sky

This sky I cannot taste
But how I might—
If I had a mouth
To swallow
And South—
Partake of

This sky I can’t ingest
But if I grew
I might just try
One wedge
Of cloud
And half
A moon
For breakfast—

© 2016 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

You can hear me read the poem aloud by clicking here.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

POETRY FRIDAY: "Advice from the Field"

Advice from the Field

In building a house
Of modest estate,
Abode for the mousy,
Not for the great,

Be prim as a mouse is
Selecting her lot;
No good to build houses
In a trouble spot.

Mice find it best
To make like a mole:
If short a nest,
Inhabit a hole.

© 2016 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

You can hear me read the poem aloud by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

POETRY FRIDAY: "Trespasser at Qwik-Mart"

I don't think I'd want a bear's life, but I do empathize with them. We'll be seeing more and more large predators in places we don't expect, and I hope that doesn't result in their numbers dwindling to a time when we never see them at all.

Trespasser at Qwik-Mart

Black bear climbed the fence behind the store
And lumbered toward the garbage bin.
Mother of two,
She’d had to let her hunger win
Against the cautious hollow at her core.

Night clerk, out for a smoke, had tossed a box
Of sausage pizza—a tiny sliver,
But it would do
Till morning when they reached the river,
So she tried to thunder softly as a fox.

Tranq dart struck her cleanly in the leg.
It took three more to bring her down.
The shooter knew
Bleak need had led her close to town,
For a black bear out of luck can hardly beg.

© 2016 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

You can hear me read the poem aloud by clicking here.

Friday, June 17, 2016

POETRY FRIDAY: "Close Combat"

After reading that the fisher, a kind of weasel, is one of the porcupine's few predators, I wrote about human beings and survival of the fiercest:

Close Combat

Even at peace
We flex our wills,
Fisher circling
Certain what kills,
Marten and prey,
Is striking a place
(Belly or face)
Bare of quills:
Whetting our skills.

© 2016 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

Image Credit: Painting by Consie Powell from Kays and Wilson's Mammals of North America, © Princeton University Press (2002)

You can hear me read the poem aloud by clicking this link.

This week's POETRY FRIDAY is hosted by Carol Wilcox at Carol's Corner.

Friday, May 27, 2016

POETRY FRIDAY: "Mosquito Season"

Ah, lively, deadly life! With Zika and other viruses on the rise, I've heard many variations on "The only good mosquito is a dead mosquito." As frightening as the health threats are, the closer I look, the more I find to admire about these graceful, resilient creatures.  

Mother Culex quinquefasciatus (southern house mosquito) with her egg raft
Mosquito Season

Mother fends off  
Net and swatter,
Hovers over
Standing water

Where she works
Her subtle craft,
Conjures up a

Made of eggs,
Laid with care
In the hollow
Of a chair

Puddled by a
Passing storm—
Perfect place to
Raise a swarm.

© 2016 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

You can hear me read the poem aloud on SoundCloud by clicking here.

Aedes mosquito larva

This week's POETRY FRIDAY is hosted by Julie Larios at The Drift Record.