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Poetry is life distilled. --Gwendolyn Brooks

Discovering Poetry En Route to Finding Life

--by JIm Glaser, Feb 22, 2021

Olive Tree in Chianti, Italy, photo by Jim Glaser

Poetry—my father quoted it frequently, my grandmother collected it in scrapbooks –cards from friends, I memorized snatches of it in school. Poetry really came to me as a young father when my family and I needed to move across the country away from our best friends. It was an unsettled, lonely. time and  I started taking walks in the evening to relax. It was spring.  Lemon blossoms.  Amazingly, I felt something in me wanting to flow out and dance-- and words-- short poems tumbled out of me.  I was surprised, encouraged, and felt happily hooked. Then one day I serendipitously discovered another poet, and then a small community of poets. For the next 25 years I shared poetry with them. Poetry is a discovery I have made on my way to finding my life.

***
 

Slow Road

Last year, my partner and I spent time at an artist residency in Chianti, Italy. 

A long winding road led through the countryside,  past vineyards and olive groves, up into the lush foothills and past villas.  The road was narrow, rutted.

Signs named it  Slow Road, urged visitors to go slowly and take in one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Each day I walked this road, saw this olive tree.


 

Slow Road

No road  to   --  no  road   from

   slow road

My chance

to stay with  this

           one

       olive  tree

      shimmering

    in morning drizzle

         light wind

Chianti, IT

***


 

This Knowledge:

This is a time of scrutiny of our feelings, reactions towards those of other ethnic and gender groups.  Hopefully, it is also a time of greater flexibility and compassion in our actions towards one another. What are some of the discoveries you have made in your own journey towards this understanding and compassion?


 

THIS KNOWLEDGE

This is the knowledge that lies right

below the surface in me and yet eludes  me

This is the knowledge that I see precedes

all knowledge in me   this is the silent knowledge

that I see precedes all words

This is the knowledge that lay like a seed

in me  not yet opened when the world opened to me

This is the knowledge that opened and

that continues to open me

the gift  that continues  to open  my life:

This is the knowledge in me of

your  dignity my  brother my sister

whoever you  are

This knowledge deserves a better name

I call it  bliss

This knowledge rising in me

kernel of bliss

scent of wholeness

joy in my bones

This is the primal knowing I  have

of your  preciousness my brother  my  sister to me

that  I know suddenly

like a lightning bolt in my  darkness

that I know in some shadowy part of myself

like a soft light half-hidden   glowing

that I know in the presence of confusion and fear

in the shock of awakening

and in sadness     remembering

and in hope    rising

This I know

like a scent that I love again

and can not give up loving

Something missing in me

you call into being

something for both of us

something unheard of before

something beyond what this place

praises   or    denies

You

my brother my sister  whoever you are

you are transforming  fire

***


 

Compass

When have you made a  radical shift in the direction of your life? A change of course?  Was it out of necessity? This is a poem about someone hearing a call from wild, rough looking, unlikely, but very wise sailors to change their life.


 

COMPASS

Sometimes we hold

       the  logic of our words

               too  wise

and  they break

              we  break

under  the immensity of these skies

And  the     muses

                     -- wind  blasted     ruddy sailors

                standing by

sing out

      “Lay that aside! Come with us mates!

       Join the roaring silent sea with

       your own billowing hand-sewn colors

      -- the clanging music of your rigging

      -- your rope rough hands

       

    Stand

       on the storm boat deck

       drenched

 in your own discovery!”

      




Syndicated with permission of the author. For nearly 30 years, Jim Glaser taught high school physics and science in southern California, while helping raise two children.  During that time, membership in a poets’ workshop gave him an invaluable apprenticeship and encouragement for his poetry. He is now retired and makes his home in Rockland County, New York, on the Hudson River, not far from New York City. He has published two books of poetry.



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