Unreal Nature

October 30, 2009

Until Hit

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 7:11 am

Here are two poems that I like.

The first, because it tickles me:

So Be It
by Ruth Stone

Look, this string of words
is coming out of my mouth,
or was. Now it’s coming
out of this pen whose ink
came from Chattanooga.
Something tells me
Chattanooga was a chief.
He came out of his mother’s
body. He pushed down
the long tube that got
tighter and tighter until
he split it open and stuck
his head out into a cold
hollow. Holding his belly
by a bloody string he
screamed, “I am me.”
and became a cursive
mark on a note pad that
was a former tree taken
with other trees in the
midst of life and mutilated
beyond all remembrance
of the struggle from seed
to cambium; the slow
dying roots feeling for some
meaning in the eroded
soil; the stench of decay
sucked into the chitin
of scavengers, becoming
alien to xylem and phloem,
the vast vertical system
of reaching up. For there
is nothing that is nothing,
but always becoming
something; flinging itself;
leaping from level to level.

Also by Stone and recommended, The Cabbage.

The second poem is by Jane Hirshfield, whose poems are usually entirely too solemn for me, but this one is just right:

The Lives of the Heart
by Jane Hirshfield

Are ligneous, muscular, chemical.
Wear birch-colored feathers,
green tunnels of horse-tail reed.
Wear calcified spirals, Fibonaccian spheres.
Are edible; are glassy; are clay; blue schist.
Can be burned as tallow, as coal,
can be skinned for garnets, for shoes.
Cast shadows or light;
shuffle, snort; cry out in passion.
Are salt, are bitter,
tear sweet grass with their teeth.
Step silently into blue needle-fall at dawn.
Thrash in the net until hit.
Rise up as cities, as serpentined magma, as maples,
hiss lava-red into the sea.
Leave the strange kiss of their bodies
in Burgess Shale. Can be found, can be lost,
can be carried, broken, sung.
Lie dormant until they are opened by ice,
by drought. Go blind in the service of lace.
Are starving, are sated, indifferent, curious, mad.
Are stamped out in plastic, in tin.
Are stubborn, are careful, are slipshod,
are strung on the black backs of flies
on the black backs of cows.
Wander the vacant whale-roads, the white thickets
heavy with slaughter.
Wander the fragrant carpets of alpine flowers.
Not one is not held in the arms of the rest, to blossom.
Not one is not given to ecstasy’s lions.
Not one does not grieve.
Each of them opens and closes, closes and opens
the heavy gate — violent, serene, consenting, suffering it all.

As one who was a horse-obsessed child, I love it where they “tear sweet grass with their teeth.” Nothing munches as beautifully as a horse in thick, new orchard grass (or a bucket of sweet feed).





  1. I’m grateful for introduction both – all three, counting the recommendation link.

    I am particularly held by the common reference to poet as mark maker. Heart skipping.

    Comment by Felix Grant — October 30, 2009 @ 6:24 pm

  2. Having brooded (those chicken boogers are catching) on my last comment for a day or so … “pot as mark maker” wasn’t right. Changfe that to “poet as part of mark making processes”.

    Comment by Felix — November 1, 2009 @ 5:13 am

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