Time and Poetry

I need more poetry in my life. This occurred to me not long ago when I noticed on my shelf Bill Brown‘s book, The Gods of Little Pleasures. I had bought this in a tiny craft store in Virginia on my honeymoon 12 years ago, and had still not finished it. This week, I finally did.

And loved it. Brown’s poetry is exactly the kind of thing I like. His themes include reverence for age and a domestic life enhanced by appreciation for the natural world. I wish I could share more of this wonderful collection, but here are two items.

First, Brown reading the last poem in the book, from which the title comes:

“Worship” appears to be the end of a little trilogy that concludes The Gods of Little Pleasures. The other two–“Backwoods Vespers” and “Prayer”–are also excellent.

Second, here’s another one I loved, appropriate for this time of year:

“October Poem”

The cat on the porch cocks an eye

as I tote wood for October’s fire. Perhaps she

remembers naps beside the hearth.

“First frost, first fire,” my father said;

and this morning’s yard is ashimmer.

Lost in the push of my life, the one

to earn bread and shelter, it’s good

to recognize an order both immediate

and beyond my plans. Hope, like desert rain,

is always welcome. That’s the danger.

This morning hope comes in little rituals

lost to summer: splitting wood, gathering

kindling from oak branches at the fence.

Building the first fall fire is like lighting

a prayer candle to some space lost

among the daily rhythms of the heart.

One can stop time only in dreams,

but at the edge of a season, I sense

a slowing of the blood; something resolute

and fleeting is remembered for an hour,

then forgotten. I take my coffee to the porch,

sit by the cat, and watch the first smoke rise

in unknown messages toward heaven.

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