poem and poem iii


T.S. Elliot’s “Virginia” caught my eye recently:

T.S. Eliot

Red river, red river,
Slow flow heat is silence
No will as still as a river
Still.  Will heat move
Only through the mocking-bird
Heard once?  Still hills
Wait.  Gates wait.  Purple trees,
White trees, wait, wait,
Delay, decay.  Living, living,
Never moving. Ever moving
Iron thoughts came with me
And go with me;
Red river, river river.


This inspired me to write my own poem, after Eliot’s “Virginia,” about Arizona, where I was born.

Theresa Barker

Red sand, red sand
Slow heat and silence
No breeze is still as sandstone
Still.  Will brush move
Only through the wind-sculpted rocks
Brush once?  Still stones
Wait.  Cactus waits.  Brown brush,
Green brush, wait, wait,
Delay, no decay.  Sleeping, sleeping,
Never changing, ever changing,
Brittle thoughts came to me
And go into me.
Red sand, sand.  Sand.


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Do you read poetry to inspire your writing?  (I know you poets out there – Lyn, Luanne – do!)

I  used to be overwhelmed by poetry.  I felt like I would never understand it, I felt dumb when I didn’t “get” a poem, and I didn’t think I’d enjoy reading poetry, to be honest.  There were some favorites over the years, but mostly I stuck to fiction.  But then I decided to subscribe to “Poem of the Day” from the Poetry Foundation, and I started to use a line or a phrase from the Poem of the Day for inspiration to start my daily writing.  And after several months I started to see some of the same names again, or a particular poem stuck in my mind (like Lucille Clifton’s “homage to my hips”: “. . . these hips/are free hips./they don’t like to be held back./these hips have never been enslaved. . . “).  And now?  I have a great variety of favorites poems and poets.  And I try not to try too hard to understand the meaning of a poem.  I try to just experience it!

What is your favorite poem?  Or poet?  What poem or poet would you recommend to a friend or young person, who may be just starting to read poetry?

10 thoughts on “poem and poem iii

    1. Ah! Thank you, Amy! … it’s not something I would submit as a “professional poem” – but I like some of the turns of phrase, some of the word juxtapositions. Keeping my literate brain going! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What is your favorite poem? Annabelle Lee was the poem as a teen caught my attention.
    Or poet? I can’t limit my answer to simply one. I’m a Poe, Yeats, Plath, Sexton, Eliot, Merwin, Collins and Whitman.
    What poem or poet would you recommend to a friend or young person, who may be just starting to read poetry? I would recommend Dr. Suess for a real young child, and an elementary age child I would suggest Shel Silverstein.
    Your poem came out really good, an excellent tribute to Eliot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Merwin! Collins! Yes! Thank you for sharing these favorites of yours. I also really enjoy Shel Silverstein – I think his whimsical poems are not easy to write. Other favorites of mine – W. C. Williams, Maya Angelou, Ted Kooser (some people think he’s too basic, but I really love the approachability of his poetry), Joy Harjo, Rita Dove. A lot of Robert Frost, though not all… I’m so pleased at your compliment on my poem. Thank you! I’m learning by looking at the work of other poets and trying out their styles. 🙂

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  2. I don’t want to sound like I’m being too general, but I like all poetry. I have very little knowledge about different poets (other than the infamous ones) and poetry styles – so I have a completely naive and wide open perspective for every poem I read. Obviously I prefer poetry that makes me react emotionally – cry, laugh, sigh, cheer – but I also like poetry that I don’t understand. I may not know what it meant to the writer, but you can usually sense the feeling that is behind it. For the author it is meaningful, so from my point of view, if I can sense that emotion in the words or style that are used then the author wrote a successful poem. For example – your poem, I’ve never been to Arizona. I’ve seen pictures. Your poem made me visualize the arid and ever changing landscape. Your poem gave me the sense that Arizona is meaningful to you. I feel that you had a connection to the land and felt or reminisced about the beauty of a desert. I loved it. 🙂

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    1. Oh! Tami, I so admire your idea about being open to all poetry. I confess that’s not how it is for me – though I love more poetry than not. Thank you for telling me about how you felt after reading my poem – both visualizing the landscape and imagining how it feels for me to be connected. That’s amazing! 🙂

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  3. Oh wow! You’ve written a truly lovely poem. You’re such an awesome inspiration, always pushing yourself and bring great pieces of poetry. I don’t “purposely go out” to read poetry. I took Literature as an Elective in university (luckily, we had to take some electives to become “well-rounded” individuals, which I was made to believe distinguishes the La Sallians from others educated by other “systems” (I suppose public tertiary education) and one work I carry still with me, after the professor dissected the whole poem for us, is Shakespeare’s Sonnet CXVI. I don’t know any other poem I can recite from memory. I do love Khalil Gibran’s “The Enchanting Houri”. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh! Khalil Gibran! I fell in love with his “The Prophet” when I was young. I haven’t thought about that in a long time! I love that you had literature in your education. Thank you for your very kind compliment on my poem. And you are an inspiration to me – the way you write, your voice, the way you balance all the things in your life. 💖

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Always a pleasure to read your work.
        I actually haven’t read The Prophet and I probably keep that a secret. Haha! Maybe I’ll cheat and read the summary. 🙂
        Thank you so much! It’s the daily battle. But it’s worth it. My restless spirit will keep on…
        Hugs. xxx

        Liked by 1 person

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