Poem 55 Revised

Family Portrait


Two score before my parents wed my father held the branches of three trees:

Peach, Apricot, Loquat; their sapping cylinders fresh leaking of life,

With his knife bore them holes together, and bound them with leftover string.

They grew entangled like the knots of unkept ambition, their fruition

Was never compromised by their scars. Here we are

Slack by our tendons, held together barely by bark

But you and I know the best part about broken branches.

They must grow back.



Poem 55 EditedPoem 55 Original

Poem 85 Editing

Welcome to the Tree Phase

I laugh about my fish phase all the time. It came from a personal reading of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and grew into a personal call to life. I found that most of my earthly experiences correlated closely with swimming and water movement. Of course it didn’t hurt that I was training for a black belt at the time so I was swimming laps everyday to keep in shape. I think poetry often echos out mindsets, but also the things we find valuable. The fish phase is something nearly comical in the edits I do here, because so many poems fall into that category and often I was just leaning on ideas and tropes I had established in my own mind.

Though I chuckle, it is not necessarily something to be scoffed at. Having phases in your work establishes your art arch. Like Picaso and his colored phases, there is a separation and a growth there, distinguishing freshness from sage. We are to cherish our phases, but not be limited by them. Sometimes fall back on the fish, but it is more with respect than as a fall back.

This poem marks the beginning of a second phase, the tree phase. The tree in this poem appears in half a dozen other poems and is a tree that I cherished beyond all others. It was a beacon of hope in an otherwise dark time and held together friendships and love with a grace I will never understand. It was the only tree I could climb on the quad at JMU and it made its way into my senior pictures.

But the tree is a myth of course. As time passes, the tree like the fish will fall into metaphor. For this phase, I can already see a nostalgia taking form. A sense of open longing for a past that maybe never was; pastoral. I remember the tree as I do my time in undergrad, with great respect, but also with a sense of wonder. It was the tree that grew and changed, fell into seasons, lost its leaves and grew them again. Not I. And when I look back at the tree I can see that I too took the same path, even though to the naked eye it was less obvious.

Look out for the tree in my work, the more mature fish, the bird and the cup of coffee. These are the signals of a better poet. Some write and have poems to show, others write and have edits to show, and those of us who have been working particularly hard have our phases to show for it. Keep an eye out for your own.


There is nothing wrong with a phase. Like its own little chapter in your work, it will be come relevant with that birds’ eye view we talk about all the time. Keep a look out for the ways that you change the your own personal symbols and how your metaphor develops as you do. For me the fish was a symbol of shedding the downy bird of youth and naivety. The fish was a harder, scalier truth that we grow as we meet loss. The tree, a cyclical figure demonstrates a nostalgia that has no bounds but makes us sturdy and strong in our roots. It is the roots of the tree, after all, that matter the most. Phases are like photographs, cherish them, develop them, guard them, share them.

Poem 85 RevisedPoem 85 Original

Poem 85 Revised

Some are meant to climb trees—I suppose—when the wide earth licks up wise
branches and invites you in. I meant to climb this tree (as so often before) and peer
out between leafy spyres, what dire distress it was to see studious insects bout their business,
too busy to disturb. Instead settled among the short hairs of summer sod, soaking in sap splinters &
cinder soil until the sun sauntered past the skyline and we were alone. The tree and I
a port of my soul settling deeper still to this spot where I’ll leave her. Neither of us ready to go.
Her roots more literal, of course, but mine just as sturdy, we would part; But I would
plant the seeds of my sincerity in such a space as to grow between the bows
to drown myself in sunlight and keep right where I left off, a bookmark of my better days.

Poem 2 Revised

What Happened in the Tree

High above the reaching hands of a hopeful evening
With limbs and joints tensed about the branches of weathered wisdom
Is the makings of a fairytale, wrapped up with a bit of string.
Untie the bow, but be ready to catch the pieces as they fall, for
Gravity—the enemy of slow progress—pulls grace ground ward.
But fear not the bitter cold or coarse bark, biting at fingers
We are pillow propped, suspended in smoke-puffs of silence,
In a moment, in a heart-beat: I would tell you anything in that tree
Or anywhere you would have me. If only you would have me.
This muddle, where a hand might pull away tough skin, well-worn facades,

and peer through the scattered branches,

Is all falling now.
Falling as you

prepare to leap.

 Forgive me.

In an attempt to

save the moment,

catch the pieces

of a splintered

fairytale, our skin

collides. Mistaken…

Shamed. Your voice

is punishment enough.
Just go. Leave me here.
Let the pieces fall.
Let them all fall.
No heart of mine wanted a fairytale.
No great love affair ever took place in a tree.
It was a foolish girl who thought she could climb to the top and find happiness.
With gravity—the enemy of slow progress—pulling at her heels with a bit of string. –ECW

Poem 2 Edited Poem 2 Original

Poem 85

written in the back of a book just recently tapped, about our tree

Some are to climb trees–i suppose–when the wide earth licks up wise
branches and invites you in. i meant to climb this tree (as i have
1000 times) and look upon the leafing; the hairline sap splinters–  below. but no.
the ants among her too studious to disturb  and instead settled among
the short hairs of the in between spaces. not branches, not roots. in between:
a compromise of the all seeing & unseen. some mortal spaces where I can
devote the hour between four and five to the quick slap of a turned page,
a passing dog, a frisbee, and the optimistic flatulence of a tuba in the music building.
Bare feet bare minds–rooting in hopes that below in the unseen,
untapped soil of the wide earth our toes might intertwine…

Poem 85 RevisedPoem 85 Edited

Poem 55

It has been brought to my attention that people are actually looking at the blog. Thanks guys. I hate blogging as much as you hate reading crappy blogs, so thanks for sticking around… On a more important note there is one person I’m flattered to say printed out my poem and showed it at a very important event that I could not attend… so thank you!! I hope I can meet you someday!!

This one’s for Grammy!!

upon forgetting all salutations, there is this
lacking nothing knowing nothing; i lack and know my heart.
be still flicking match-fingers and well worn toe-less shoes
it was the bruise that lasted eternal not the fall… after all…
we fall in love with the past over and over before we realize
seasons have matured…

cured. of all redemption, the rise

and fall of sunlight is finally free to symbolize nothing but itself.
two score before my parents wed my father held the branches of three
trees: apricot, peach, loquat; their sapping cylinders fresh-leaking of life,
with his knife bore them holes together, and bound them with left-over string.

they grew entangled, like the knots of unkept ambition, their fruition
was never compromised by their scars. Here we are. Walking around
like we might be some fallen trees, but you and i know the best part about
broken branches: they must grow back.

Poem 55 Revised Poem 55 Edited

Poem 51

tree time in just a few days

Fingerpads and fingerprints
Rest wrinkled in weaving fibers of
This pillar.
Come away come away
Come away with me
Up up… with straining, buckling
Joints to climb.
Push up. Up.
Come up. Come up.
Come away with me.
Your hands and my hands
Will follow the same ladder up.
You will climb and I will follow.
I will follow you.
You and I and weaving protests
Groaning murmurs from this tree
You and I will ascend upon him
Come away come away.
Come away with me.