.NaPoWriMo 2015 Day 22.

1
flowers on the mountainside-
windblown and one petal
lighter each day
2
the morning crow wakes
it’s caws, so close together
they sound like laughter
3
the moon scratched
the margin of her skies
which begs the question;
did the moon reach down
to her, or did she attain
height enough to reach it?
4
sun
descends
shadows grow
guileless, trees bow
night
5
light decreased and i
could not tell where the
night ended and blanket began
©jcs

Happy Earth Day to all! In keeping with Earth Day, the prompts for us are about nature, the earth, anything to do with what Earth Day encompasses. I’ve always loved haiku for how a piece of nature is inserted into the poem and personified and have adapted the use of nature and personification into a good portion of what I write, aside from my haiku, even if indirectly. I decided on some short pieces today since that’s just how inspiration struck. They weren’t posted in any particular sequence. Some are about today and are from memories of things that stuck out to me in spending time with nature.

What in nature inspires you to write, to look at life differently, to love a little harder when you see what/who you have been granted as so beautiful? 


A Plague of Starlings

Fisk Campus

Evenings I hear
the workmen fire
into the stiff
magnolia leaves,
routing the starlings
gathered noisy and
befouling there.

Their scissoring
terror like glass
coins spilling breaking
the birds explode
into mica sky
raggedly fall
to ground rigid
in clench of cold.

The spared return,
when the guns are through,
to the spoiled trees
like choiceless poor
to a dangerous
dwelling place,
chitter and quarrel
in the piercing dark
about the killed.

Morning, I pick
my was past death’s
black droppings:
on campus lawns
and streets
the troublesome
starlings
frost-salted lie,
troublesome still.

And if not careful
I shall tread
upon carcasses
carcasses when I
go mornings now
to lecture on
what Socrates,
the hemlock hour nigh,
told sorrowing
Phaedo and the rest
about the migratory
habits of the soul.

Robert Hayden


Born Asa Bundy Sheffey into a poor family, Robert Hayden’s parents left him to be raised by foster parents. Due to extreme nearsightedness, Hayden turned to books rather than sports in his childhood. Some of his best-known poems can be found in his collection A Ballad of Remembrance. Hayden was the first African American to be appointed as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. Hayden’s formal, elegant poems about the black historical experience earned him a number of other major awards as well. “Robert Hayden is now generally accepted,” Frederick Glaysher stated in Hayden’sCollected Prose, “as the most outstanding craftsman of Afro-American poetry.”

The historical basis for much of Hayden’s poetry stemmed from his extensive study of American and black history. Beginning in the 1930s, when he researched black history for the Federal Writers’ Project in his native Detroit, Hayden studied the story of his people from their roots in Africa to their present condition in the United States. “History,” Charles T. Davis wrote in Black is the Color of the Cosmos: Essays on Afro-American Literature and Culture, 1942-1981, “has haunted Robert Hayden from the beginning of his career as a poet.” As he once explained to Glenford E. Mitchell ofWorld Order, Hayden saw history “as a long, tortuous, and often bloody process of becoming, of psychic evolution.”

Although history played a large role in Hayden’s poetry, many of his works were also inspired by the poet’s adherence to the Baha’i faith, an Eastern religion that believes in a coming world civilization. Hayden served for many years as the poetry editor of the group’s World Order magazine. The universal outlook of the Baha’is also moved Hayden to reject any narrow racial classification for his work.

James Mann of the Dictionary of Literary Biography claimed that Hayden “stands out among poets of his race for his staunch avowal that the work of black writers must be judged wholly in the context of the literary tradition in English, rather than within the confines of the ethnocentrism that is common in contemporary literature written by blacks.” As Lewis Turco explained in the Michigan Quarterly Review, “Hayden has always wished to be judged as a poet among poets, not one to whom special rules of criticism ought to be applied in order to make his work acceptable in more than a sociological sense.”

This stance earned Hayden harsh criticism from other blacks during the polarized 1960s. He was accused of abandoning his racial heritage to conform to the standards of a white, European literary establishment. “In the 1960s,” William Meredith wrote in his foreword to Collected Prose, “Hayden declared himself, at considerable cost in popularity, an American poet rather than a black poet, when for a time there was posited an unreconcilable difference between the two roles. . . . He would not relinquish the title of American writer for any narrower identity.”

Ironically, much of Hayden’s best poetry is concerned with black history and the black experience. “The gift of Robert Hayden’s poetry,” Vilma Raskin Potter remarked inMELUS, “is his coherent vision of the black experience in this country as a continuing journey both communal and private.” Hayden wrote of such black historical figures as Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, and Cinquez. He also wrote of the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, and the American slave trade.Edward Hirsch, writing in the Nation, called Hayden “an American poet, deeply engaged by the topography of American myth in his efforts to illuminate the American black experience.”

 

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