another poem requested of me…this time by a prof

Walking between worlds

we slid down the hill from our school’s cliff top view
to hike and haiku with her hound bounding at our heels
walking in silence we passed a test, and we failed
to walk a talk distractedly beside these railroad ties

“does anyone know about the people in this trailer here?”
“at first there were only these two children, but now…”
a duo of wooden cut-outs with faded paint beneath a tree
the girl with an astonished “o” and a boy’s bum exposed to pee

they stood alone before, but now they accumulate clutter
blooms of rainbow pinwheels and a jungle gym of hanging sparkles
we walked back in silence challenged each in our own space
to work through the count of a sea of internal syllables 5-7-5

blackberries have gone and the leaves are turning to brown
so little rain this year that the colours remain subdued, muted
i hear bigwheels scraping on gravel and a boy on his bike
attracts my “poetic sense” to recall other, distant autumns

each of us find some space along the east mooring dock
amid the incessant chorus of sealions piercing the dusk air
when their barks slack to silence here the slap of waves
works my mind into spasms of too many counted syllables

gathered in a round, for that “is how poetry works” we are
told, we tell each other our haiku each in time, a second time
“put out hippies” and “green stabbing my eyes” each remarking
on the environment we find ourselves sharing this evening

poetry opens opportunities to walk between worlds
and in these spaces of in-between, weirdness can unfold
to charge a poetic imagination with new found connections
that remained impossible but for the verse on our tongues

the pooh van does a poetic drive-by and we are each called
to witness, not a poet, but one who has found in other’s words
expression far more succinct and beautiful than his own attempts
at rhyming couplets of consonants and vowels – counted syllables

blank, blank, and elliot are invoked in words so faint
from this would-be bard, but then after reentering his
poohish sanctuary the bard becomes more the village fool
with his wooden whale straight from the depths of outer space

partnered up we are charged with a new pattern to pursue
a renga conversation with our freshly written haiku
we walk towards the dim street lights in the cold night air
struggling once again, but together, with wrestled syllables

“i come down here to get away from the corporate” hucksters
and me wearing my tie-noose, but as if in answer to the summons
another denizen of the night saunters up and bellows like a sealion
“poetry?” followed by a gruff request to “read some poetry then”

my city personae kicks in and i am back on the streets of houston
accosted by someone at a busstop smelling of alcohol and sweat
“alright then i will read you one.” and as i finish the last lines
“then the serpent, eve and i are going to dance” you can see it

in retrospect there is no doubt of a definite aggressiveness, a swagger
“are you an atheist?” comes a fellow poet’s voice, and our interloper,
you can still see the confusion and distress the words have worked
the challenge remains unmet he has nothing to say but “that’s deep”

so while he is reeling from the miltonian challenge to question
all the stories we have each been raised to accept unquestioningly
i follow with a poem about the pure and honest delight of a child
“joy is contagious” beaming out of their eyes like a cat, and it is a k-o

he wanders off as if in a daze the strange juxtapositions of a poet
a wordsmith working to weave a spell of questioning and delight
with the sparsest of verse, an economy of words, but with power
to transform the mundane into the sublime, short-circuits his response

no i am not an atheist, but neither can i honor the god we all grew up on
perhaps he has inspired poetry, but i prefer to have a woman’s touch
my goddess is smith, and healer, but above all she is patron to poets
and in her weave and strike i am molded like a sword to cut through illusion

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