Exiled from the living, on a sea, uncharted, three island realms of the dead. Even without a companion, no fear here. Our fate cannot be taken from us. This journey a Comedy. A happy ending.
In 1302, the Italian poet Dante Alighieri was exiled from Florence for his political sympathies. His only solace during his exile was writing. It was during this time that he wrote The Divine Comedy, an epic poem about a journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.
Italy marked the 700th anniversary of the death of the medieval poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri in 2021. He is also known as the Father of the Italian language.
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 an 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 four of my poems featured on the Almanac and read by Keillor. 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.
I am posting links to those poems here – even though they are not my usual ronka poems. You can read the poems 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 almanac news about the day as much, sometimes even more, as the poem.
“Who Shows Up at My Poetry Reading” portrays the kinds of people I actually have had show up at poetry 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 my horoscope online. Those short-form horoscopes tend to be pretty positive, though you might get a cautionary prediction once in a while. What I thought was missing were ones that were somewhere in-between.
but you spend this Sunday with me, on the spring garden bench reading poems from your small hand-sewn fascicles, never published, but for here and now, where God preaches – and the sermon is never long.
This poem recalls – and borrows lines – from Emily Dickinson, whose poems I was reading this morning.
Emily Dickinson, poet of the interior life, poems were written quietly in a room of her own, often hand-stitched in small volumes, then hidden in a drawer. She died without fame, only a few poems were published in her lifetime, and those anonymously. All of the poems were later published at first altered by editors or publishers according to the fashion of the day, rather than in the unique style that Emily intended for them.
The cloudy afternoon through the red maple – painted leaves, inked branches, white paper sky. This could be a haiku about spring here seven thousand miles away from Osaka where every line counts as seven beats.
traveling a circuit from place to place, not dropping haiku gently in cold snow, white spring petals or the whispering river. A knight-errant journeying home on neighborhood walks and tossing poems up into the air.