Verse and the Unsaid

For as much fiction as I read, I still return to poetry. Like the elliptical orbit around a star, poetry can remain in the distance for long stretches of time, but soon enough I pick up a collection and start reading. Slowly. Great poems remind me of the depths ordinary words can reach when they are perfectly ordered.

I’ll spare you (and myself) a discussion of my poetics, but I believe verse shares its borders with the sacred. True poetry uses words to get at the ineffable, leaving you with feeling and wonder.

Rarely do I write poetry anymore. I wrote poems for my wife when we dated; I took a couple of workshops and filled several notebooks, yet I never discovered what you might call my ‘voice.’  I found it in fiction, and narratives satisfy me in a way that poetry does not.

Still, I’m occasionally inspired. The poem below is a sort of companion piece to “Thicker Than Water.” The first line came to me early one morning, and the idea of horses actively ‘wintering’ like affluent snowbirds made me chuckle. As it developed it naturally changed, but it’s meant to be a lark, a brief foray into verse.


a shift in emphasis

horses wintering in California

wish the rains would come

shoes long since thrown

they yearn for cooler climes,

a Minnesota fall, the wet ground


eat a pasta dinner, a friend advises

before you run your miles

like oil for a rusting spirit


fire up the Blu-ray

we’re tired from years of hard-riding

cowboys          and wildfire season

lengthens        every year.


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