This poem was written to fit a form called a tritina. It’s kind of like a sestina, only different.
Here’s an overview if you’re interested. Hopefully you will be–give it a try!
My boots shuffle slowly through the leaves
The leaves that cover the winding trail Breaking the forest’s hush, its stillness, its quiet
But that’s why I’m here—for the quiet
So I step more softly now, through the leaves The leaves that cover the winding trail
Were it not for the trail
My heart would not know quiet So I’m thankful for those fallen leaves
The leaves that cover the winding trail and the quiet in my heart
It’s late afternoon
seasonably warm in the middle of October in the year two thousand twenty
The line to vote
stretches from the shade of the north side of the courthouse into the sun of the west side in my north Alabama county
We in line have a casual attitude
almost nervous but not quite as volunteers walk up and down the file entreating us for questions about what is a simple process
A simple process with an import
that engenders uncertainty so clarity is appreciated
we shuffle and we stand
We can wait. We will wait.
There’s nothing wrong with ignorance itself
I’ve thought that for years It just means you don’t know something
I myself am ignorant of much
Having the opportunity to learn, though
and rejecting it Learning and denying
Well, that’s just obstinance
a character trait appreciated only by those who share it
I watched a poem last night
Birds in silhouette High in the evening sky, just before dusk
Black against an impossible blue
With economy of motion they flew southward Leaving me breathless, far below
Wondering if I closed the gate earlier this evening
I make my way into the back yard flashlight in hand, and find it open.
Closing it, reassured the fence will keep the dog in
and the rest of the world out I slowly make my way back to the house.
On a whim, I play my beam along the fence line.
Two rabbits freeze unaware their eyes are glowing in the light.
Something else scurries through the chainlink
just as the darkness of its space is broken and I hear yet another as it moves through the garden.
Once indoors, assured the walls will keep me in
and the rest of the world out I close the door behind me.
There is, amongst men today
a commonplace superficiality celebrated with getting together for a game or enjoying a few cold ones before heading home. And it is good, in a commonplace way.
But friendship, real friendship between men
is a rare occurrence. A shared set of values common ground deeper than a few inches of topsoil and the recognition of a kindred spirit
Finding all of those at once is indeed a rarity
and is of lasting value.
A feather drops
and the loss of lift and maneuverability is immediate What was possible moments ago is no longer
Coming in sheathed
new feathers are just extra weight until they’re ready and flight as it was is restored
Sometimes change is sudden
New flight feathers coming in on a male American Kestrel,
When a bird grows new feathers, they have a protective sheath that stays in place until the feather is fully formed.
I recently planted a swamp milkweed
There is a small garden
In my front yard, out near the street, and That’s where I decided to put it
When I consider what has taken place
And what is to come Those biological processes I find myself in water just a bit over my head
At one time there was a seed
There was soil, moisture Sunlight, the right temperature and a Miracle that brought the plant to me
Then I brought it to that place
That small garden in my front yard Out near the street Where I decided to put it
Days have passed and still the plant lives
Myriad variables falling within a certain range A range that allows and sustains life The life of that plant
That swamp milkweed that lives or dies
Regardless of my decisions That plant in the small garden In my front yard, out near the street
Fifth grade, Mrs. Williams’ room
If I can get through this presentation The rest of the year is easy And I did
Algebra, ninth grade, fourth quarter
If I can pull off a 90 on the final I’ll pass the class And I did
Parris Island with a late September report date
If I can make it through without getting set back I’ll wear that uniform home for Christmas And I did
If I can get my little girl’s fever down
The worst is going to be past If I can get through this last class College is behind me
If I can —
And I did
I didn’t ever do it alone, but I did
What do we say?
Clear this hurdle Climb this mountain See this through
And we will
And we will
Draft, July 2020
I was given a moment, earlier today
And I’m happy to say I recognized it as such An instant in time when I spotted a feather Lying on the ground by my garden fence
An owl, sometime during the night, visited my yard
There was a moment when I recognized the feather Just as there was one when the feather was lost Quite possibly a different moment saw the taking of prey in the dark
We’re given moments, and sometimes they are given us
They’re not seconds, mere divisions of a day Nor are they heartbeats, each one cherished but passing without remark The life-giving product of a miraculous electrical impulse
We’re given many moments each day
Most of them inconsequential, but some of them not
The morning sun reflecting off sprinkler-wet stepping stones
A moment when I see my daughters looking out from a picture frame One when I find my dog wanting to play Another sees me finding a note from my wife, giving her love
A moment when my eyes fall on a flower in an unexpected place
A moment when the sun is just seconds away from disappearing behind the tree line to the west A moment when sleep takes us, and there are no more