Whitman

Walt, born 1819. He moved around frequently
but at the end of his life
he settled where I started – New Jersey – 
which has more poetry than most imagine, 
and ghosts reciting from Camden to Newark.

Whitman house

Walt Whitman’s home on Mickle St. in Camden, New Jersey

Meditation on Birdsongs

Black-capped_Chickadee

Black-capped_Chickadee at a suet feeder

The welcoming sunlight forced my eyes closed – 
into meditation mode: white-throated sparrow’s simple notes
of three/four; harsh jay’s single screech bu
no Barred Owl’s “Who cooks for you.”
Sets of three-noted refrains – Black-capped Chickadees feeding.

 


I have been trying in recent years to be able to identify some common avian visitors to my neighborhood by their songs. “Songs” may seem grandiose for some of these simple notes. I suspect they are melodic sentences, though they do seem to repeat a chorus or refrain. You can hear these songs at allaboutbirds.org. Perhaps, some birds write haiku, while others prefer free verse or their own kind of villanelles.

Ode for Stanley in His Garden

van Gogh irises

some of Vincent van Gogh’s irises

It’s early for irises, Stanley. But today

daffodils are shouting yellow and white calls

to me from my garden, “Come outside!

Leave that poem for tonight! Touch blooms!”

Maybe it was you, Stanley, calling me.

 

still life

Listening to Someone Else Reading Your Poem

On another blog of mine, I post occasionally about what I am listening to in the podcast/online/radio world.  One daily podcast I enjoy is The Writer’s Almanac which has been on radio since 1993. It ran on public radio through 2017 and episodes are archived online. Now, the show is available as a podcast and online on the host’s (Garrison Keillor) website.

I had listened to Garrison Keillor starting in 1974 on his radio show A Prairie Home Companion. I loved that voice and his ad-libbed weekly stories of the fictional town of Lake Wobegon.  I went on to read his short stories and novels. You can label him as author, storyteller, humorist, voice actor and radio personality. He hosted that show through 2016 when he retired and passed the reins over to others.

I was lucky to have three of my poems featured on the Almanac this month. I really enjoy hearing other people read my poems and that is not something I get to experience very often. It is interesting to hear the little spins and turns that someone else will take with your words.

It is also interesting to have your poem discussed in a classroom or group. I don’t mean in a workshop way, but just as a piece of literature.

I am posting links to the three poems here – even though they are not my usual ronka poems. You can read the poems there online, but I strongly recommend that you listen to him read the poems. The poems are at the end of the program, so you could fast-forward through the news, but I enjoy the news of the day every morning as much, sometimes even more, as the poem.

Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey. This Gothic beauty was the original setting of my poem, “Shame.”

“Shame” is a serious poem that came from an experience I had as a young man in a beautiful cathedral.
The other two are less serious, though not totally meant to be funny.
“Who Shows Up at My Poetry Reading” portrays the kinds of people I actually have had show up at readings. The poem often gets laughs when I read it, though fellow poets may be more likely to just nod in recognition.
My poem, “Somewhat Optimistic Horoscopes,” came from reading an actual horoscope column online. The short-form horoscopes tend to be pretty positive, though you might get a warning prediction once in a while. What I thought was missing were ones that were somewhere in-between – and so this poem.