The hues of a northern November recall, somehow,
World War I–not just the peace,
but the slog, entrenched in barren,
bombarded by fall.
Only that which is young enough
to bend completely to the ground
and spring up straight again
still glows green–

And how can it be
that the war to end all wars
is now the hundred years’ war
and the young
are still bent to the ground,
and still, no matter how straight they do spring,
are soon to lose
their green
for some dark time.

Trees–they know how to make good
going around in circles–but when humans
become wood, they turn into
a machine’s toys–

We can hardly see them
in the blinding grey–
those leaves, Novembers, that low to the ground
flare against ghost
trunks and sky-carved limbs–
Though the eye barely dares
believe them, the heart
watches its step, anxious not to flatten a one
before the snow.


I couldn’t resist!  Though I have been noveling!  But all day, off and on, Claudia’s prompt on Autumn colors on dVerse Poets Pub and Kerry O’Connor’s prompt about Marianne Moore’s Real Toads in Imaginary Gardens on With Real Toads were swirling about in my mind, so I finally wrote a draft of the swirl down.  Check out both of these wonderful prompts and the wonderful poems they are inspiring. 

I apologize to Kerry as I did not try for a syllabic format a la Marianne Moore, though I do typically write a syllabic line when doing forms.  (Next time.) 

PS – a special thanks to Hedgewitch for this poem – who got me thinking that it was okay to keep writing down my attempted poems despite my concurrent attempts for discipline. 

PPS – November 11 is Armistice Day (celebrated as Veteran’s Day in the U.S.), the armistice of WWI, which began 100 years ago next year. 

ppps–this has been edited since first posting–

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32 Comments on “Hewn”

  1. Such a great use of likening within this poem, Karen…I love this:

    “Trees–they know how to make good
    going around in circles–but when humans
    become wood, they turn
    into someone’s toys–”

    It really says so much. Nicely done!

  2. Brian Miller Says:

    the war to end all wars…was still but a precursor to new kinds of war…and we still ship our young men off to die…far too young…the likening to trees….the people becoming wood…they toys for others…solid write k

  3. hedgewitch Says:

    Thanks for the pleasure of this to read before bed–it seems a night-time sort of poem, though the darkness in it is man-made and not celestial. I love so many lines in this, how only the young spring back, how wood is for trees and toys, and how each leaf is its own November..so glad you decided to take a break and do this, k. I have been toiling all day over Kerry’s prompt, but I just can’t get anywhere with it. You did really well.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. I was by myself all day and this was one of these things that kept popping into my peripheral vision, so thought I should just write it down. It is very beautiful up here right now. K.

  4. Powerful writing. I loved the vividness of images of the tree and the whole feel of November.
    There is no end to war… one leads to another and they keep going on, snatching lives from so many. Well portrayed.

  5. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    To me, this poem is so much more than the prompts which gave rise to it. It is a commemoration of lives lost a century ago, it mourns the loss in the present and future too. A woodland is always such a healthy emblem of growth and perpetuity, which makes your metaphor so strongly felt, when you couple it with death and destruction. What an indictment of war!

    There is a nod to Moore’s style, but not enough to detract from the originality of the piece.

  6. kkkkaty1 Says:

    This is hauntingly lovely …reminding us of the upcoming anniversary….a time when war was deemed necessary after much thought and options had run out…I like the November theme and connotations.

  7. MarinaSofia Says:

    Intriguing juxtaposition of ideas and images – November is the cruellest month…

  8. claudia Says:

    you do really well here in tying the images together with the time of year, the anniversary, the mood, color..ugh.. if war had a color..i would paint it black and red, red and black… too many lost lives… so glad you joined in k.

  9. Brendan Says:

    Great poem — The naturalistic fallacy of equating human nature with nature shows here, where the sere coloration of late autumn is one thing in nature — a natural dying, prior to rebirth — While in human nature, death becomes a war-machine, a hundred-years war, and endless death dance. We would be well to see just what is reflected in nature’s mirror when it is us who is looking into it.

  10. Beautifully done K ~ A great nod to the sombre November skies & bare trees ~ Very apt too as Remembrance Day in Canada is just around the corner ~

    I think its good to write to prompts once in a while ~ Good luck with your writing ~

  11. You’ve certainly captured the feeling of November here. great write.

  12. Marian Says:

    nice, Karin. good luck with your novel!

  13. Luke Prater Says:

    poet’s poetry… poetry you don’t often see the calibre of… that gentle insistence, self-consciously and unerringly humble and unflashy but consistently poetic, with strong narrative voice, visual and aural devices. I appreciate this after watching myself trying to be too clever so often! I hope this one gets published, it’s well worth print. We learn a lot from reading others. Thank you.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Well, thank you, Luke. You are very kind. Too-cleverness is a pitfall for anyone clever, and you are super clever! I know what you mean though–it’s hard to keep things simple without being simplistic. Thanks much for your sweetness. k.

      • Margaret Says:

        I must put my comment here as I agree with everything Luke Prater wrote. Historical poetry is one of my favorites – and this is profound – I’m sure if anyone from WWI was still alive and read this – the emotion would overwhelm them. Of course, anyone can connect with this poem that seems to have a soul… I love it and have printed it out to tuck in my books I read about the Civil War – as truly, this touches on ever war …

  14. Kay Davies Says:

    You’re so right, Karin. It didn’t end all wars, not at all, but there is still that flexibility in young branches to give us hope.
    A powerful write.

  15. If only that had been the war to end all wars … wonderful thoughts here. I especially like the same lines that Hannah quoted. Lovely 🙂

  16. When humans become wood…scary beasts they become…a magnificent piece!!

  17. janehewey Says:

    Beautiful. This is November. End, but not finality. The blinding grey, the state of the limbs. Trees hold the wisdom of the circle here. This is wonderful poetry, karin. I especially enjoyed the heart watching its step. I do find humans, as individuals maybe more-so than groups, to be compassionate. really really wonderful read.

  18. Susan Chast Says:

    Wood is an apt metaphor for human parts and bodies and governments and toys and hearts. What will not bend gets broken–trees know this. And the trees when we manage to flatten the earth.
    Your poem says so much in so few words.

  19. I read the other comments and agree with them. We had one of those November days today in Texas – usually rare to have clouds and rain for more than a few hours here but it drizzled as though we lived in a real place today. I read Brendan’s poem just before this and was still there in the mind of a dying soldier as I read this – deep into milk and white fog. The fog of war pervades this piece too and the peace after it as Brian wrote. That we choose to pacify some gods of something by offering up our fittest and best is a travesty. However your poem eloquently mourns that beyond any commentary.

  20. I’m glad you couldn’t resist! 🙂 As meditations on war go, yours is so powerful. It really packs a punch. Loved it.

    Greetings from London.

  21. shanyns Says:

    Very well done, what a powerful piece considering we are so close to November 11.

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