Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Larry Shitsverse: Trees

I cannot identify a tree 
in the winter. The bark 
doesn't catch in the folds
of my brain the way 
an oak leaf does, or the 
blooms on a magnolia,
purple petals cupped tightly
in the April wind.
For all I know, on the first
winter night in the glow of
street lamp and chalk moon,
the dogwood trades places
with the Japanese maple,
roots creeping over the
pavement, dirt clods and
gravel trailing.
Yes, of course someone
might notice that a
crab apple is now a 
cherry tree, a myrtle 
is now a tulip. 

But maybe not.
Maybe they are transformed
by the soil.
Maybe all it takes for
a dogwood to try on
new skin is for it to sink
its feet into the loosened
earth and wiggle its toes
in the sandy mud where
a birch tree once stood.

I like the way this poem reads. This is free verse, meaning it has no rhymes or meter. It isn't taking on any kind of traditional or pre-determined poetic form. Which isn't to say that free verse has no rhythm. Good free verse presents itself to be read at a certain pace with a certain emphasis on words that creates a rhythmic feeling. Like the way the stanzas are organized. I'm not sure how a poet goes about determining how long a line should be or how many lines should be in a stanza. They probably just try out different formats and see how it looks and reads. But my guess is that Larry just wrote these lines out and gave hardly any thought to rhythm or how it looks on the page. Probably...

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