Poet’s Tree (Entering A New World) (Also Learning Of John Updike)

Poet’s Tree (Entering New World)  (Also Learning Of John Updike)

I don’t know that I’d ever actually been
in such a house before, the ceilings tall
between thick walls, a measured leisure dappling the halls
like sun through leaves–one could imagine an Intellect sitting
in a Georgian chair–the pink sponge of brain oddly suited to
dark varnished slats–as in, not oozing–and on the brick veranda, a woman
(my friend’s mom) her waved hair parted
like a woodcut of a classical sea, sighting some bird
of jeweled plumage, her fingers raised
as if to stop its flight, time too–

and in the little breakfast nook, painted yellow
as a stamen or a yolk, where green shone
through a warp of bright glass antique enough
to have run, sat
a slender book of poetry,
on the counter where we drank tea, itself
a new experience–at least, for me–having
grown up in a working-class suburb drinking
I don’t know what–
in which the poet wrote
of telephone poles.

Of course, I knew that poetry was not all unrequited love, fates’s
vagaries–but up till then
only Romeo and Juliet and Robert Frost
had been sandwiched in–you know–
between the Get Smart and Bewitched, Mr. Ed
and smidgeons
of Clark Gable–
and somehow I’d never thought
about telephone poles.

“What other tree can you climb,” the poet wrote,
“where the birds twitter/unscrambled,
in English?”

I was already pretty sure that no out-sized ceilings would ever
house me, nor Georgian chair seat
my sponge, but this song–homage
to a plebian totem–found in me
some resonating hum, vibrating with almost the same
unnoticed stolidity as those dark lines overhead,
and, later, the blue ones on the blank page
I myself would try to perch upon
as a translated sparrow.


First poem (draft!) for April 2015–written for Magaly Guerrero’s prompt on Real Toads to write of our first poetic sources.  The poet I quote here is John Updike.

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16 Comments on “Poet’s Tree (Entering A New World) (Also Learning Of John Updike)”

  1. Your closing line is perfection and I love this,

    “her waved hair parted
    like a woodcut of a classical sea,”

    What an apt likening. All together wonderful poem, K!

  2. Oh, wonderful… I just wanted to start clapping after your last stanza and this “and, later, the blue ones on the blank page
    I myself would try to perch upon
    as a translated sparrow.) YES!

  3. I love the entire poem; its tone, it structure, the expressions on the speaker’s face (I seer eyebrows raised in incredulity and determination. And with these words, she flies: “I was already pretty sure that no out-sized ceilings would ever/house me”.

  4. Sherry Marr Says:

    OMG how I love this – especially the stanza that begins “of course I knew that poetry….” What a splendid read! The first person to demonstrate to me how far outside the box a poem could be was…..Shay. I am still blown away by her.

  5. “a translated sparrow” I love that. You always have such an original voice. This piece just opens my door of admiration wider.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha. Well, thank you, Susie. You are very kind. I hope your daughter is doing okay–all best wishes to her.


      On Thu, Apr 2, 2015 at 12:21 AM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  6. Ella Says:

    Wondrous, so many intimate details and offerings of insight-a pleasure to read!

  7. M Says:

    first, thanks for calling me out last week 🙂 second, I’ve always been fascinated by birds on lines, and your storytelling is so compelling here, I want to learn more. I hope you return to this scene, in other pieces, because it feels (?) like a rich vein. here’s to the rest of the month, K ~

  8. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    I applaud your portrait of your mother’s friend, and I love how you turned the telephones lines into the feint of the notebook upon which you wrote.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hey Kerry, thanks– it doesn’t matter but only for the record– it’s supposed to be friend’s mom though I may have confused. That part may also have gotten out of hand! I was trying to describe a certain atmosphere and it means something to me– but not sure about what a reader will get. Your sonnet was just terrific. K.

  9. Marian Says:

    I love this, Karin. Just love. I feel like I knew you then. 🙂

  10. hedgewitch Says:

    The mood of this is smoky and curvaceous, like looking through a lightly-amber-tinged globe like the ones in gardens–what do they call them, gazing balls??/ Anyway, this one shows the past through a sponge that has absorbed very little as yet, so that a new liquid can absolutely fill it with its color. Your word use is so crisp and personal, too. Lovely poem of discovery, k–have never read a poem by Updike, but as I have assigned myself a poem a day to read this month, I will check him out.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      He is not in anyway a favorite poet, but I do remember being very impressed by that poem. And he’s not a bad poet! As you would expect, he is super clever, and quite delicate. k.

      On Thu, Apr 2, 2015 at 9:05 AM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  11. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) Says:

    This is rich and wonderful! I never cared much for Updike’s poetry (still less for his novels). Perhaps I’ll have to have a re-think. 🙂

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thank you, Rosemary. I honestly haven’t read the poetry much since I was very young. Hope all well. k.

      On Thu, Apr 2, 2015 at 10:58 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


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