Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Jim Harrison & Ted Kooser-Braided Creek

How one old tire leans up against
another, the breath gone out of both.

Old friend,
perhaps we work too hard
at being remembered.

Which way will the creek
run when time ends?
Don’t ask me until
this wine bottle is empty.

While my bowl is still half full,
you can eat out of it too,
and when it is empty,
just bury it out in the flowers.

All those years
I had in my pocket.
I spent them,

Each clock tick falls
like a raindrop,
right through the floor
as if it were nothing.

In the morning light,
the doorknob, cold with dew.

The Pilot razor-point pen is my
compass, watch, and soul chaser.
Thousands of miles of black squiggles.

Under the storyteller’s hat
are many heads, all troubled.

At dawn, a rabbit stretches tall
to eat the red asparagus berries.

The big fat garter snake
emerged from the gas-stove burner
where she had coiled around the pilot light
for warmth on a cold night.

Straining on the toilet
we learn how
the lightning bug feels.

For sixty-three years I’ve ground myself
within this karmic mortar. Yesterday I washed
it out and put it high on the pantry shelf.

All I want to be
is a thousand blackberries
bursting from a tree,
seeding the sky.

Republicans think that all over the world
darker-skinned people are having more fun
than they are. It’s largely true.

Faucet dripping into a pan,
dog lapping water,
the same sweet music.

The nuthatch is in business
on the tree trunk,
fortunes up and down.

Oh what dew
these mortals be.
Dawn to dark.
One long breath.

The wit of the corpse
is lost on the lid of the coffin.

A book on the arm of my chair
and the morning before me.

from "Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry", published in 2003 by Copper Canyon Press

Friends and fellow poets Harrison and Kooser decided to have a correspondence entirely in short poems after Kooser was diagnosed with cancer and, Harrison says, "Ted's poetry became overwhelmingly vivid." The results of that decision are gathered in this book, and none of the two- to five-line writings is individually signed. Telling whose poem is whose is virtually impossible, and, not to gainsay Harrison, vividness, visual or tactile, takes second place to wit and wisdom in their colloquy.

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