In the Details: Two Weeks Worth of Homegrown Poetry

Over the last couple weeks, Stratford poet Elizabeth Howard has been sharing some of her work on Stratford Patch. Today we review the 10 poems that make her ongoing "In the Details" series.

In college I took a nature writing class.

Among other memories of the class, I remember Professor Pickering telling us we should start every day with poetry.

Read a poem right after you wake, said Sam Pickering, who, you may know, is the professor which Mr. Keating (played by Robin Williams) in "Dead Poets Society" is partly based on.

And in recent weeks that advice has been implanted on Stratford Patch. Since Jan. 9, every weekday morning Elizabeth Howard has said hello to readers with an original poem and photo as part of her ongoing . 

Here are those poems:

Not Tree

We're fooled.
The vine too.
By the nature of
This rusted
Arm slanting up

Not tree--
Going native.


Clouds at Main

Clouds at
Main stuttered
Into dusk.
Showed me
A memory:

Thanksgiving 2007.

Suzannah, the dog and
A Zip car. My
Brother, alone--

We walked low
Tide sunset
Over sodden
Rippled sand.


Water Weekly

On Tuesdays
I visit you and
We kill the hour and
We eat the time and it's
Sure that by some standard
We've made "Progress." 

On Tuesdays I visit you and I
Sit in that same hard blue
Chair and I stare at
The Lucky



He departs on the 7:47 MNR--
Disappears for the day

Stepping into rules of
Providership. He returns

Mind scrambled by codes and
Expectation. Wall of noise

Hits him. He dashes up to
Change, like Superman

And finds twin baubles like
Love dropped mindlessly there.


Other Ideas

When we recite out our
Expectations, that is when
We slip our grip.

Winter snivels its way through
Mumbling to itself.
Unsure of much except

How well a stagnant water
Rots the boards.


The Kind of Lie

To a 6-year-old
The idea that Earth
Never stops moving
Is the kind of
Lie Parents Tell
Which sits inside her
Mind like a boulder
Until something like
Light or shadow
Exchange and
Mind's eye
Shifts and she
Boulder is, 
Chewing cud.



When my husband
Flew VFR, the morning always
Began in
Darkness, with robotic
Voices burping down
The wires--
Telling him which way
The wind blew.

As if they knew.



My neighbor I don't
Know him, except he
Grins and hellos us
On our way to school.

My neighbor he parks
Beater cars in the
Road, rims resting
On blacktop.

My neighbor wears
Dark hoodies, and has scruff
On his face. If he has a wife,
I've never seen her.

My neighbor I don't
Know him, except this
Long rail fence we pass by
Which, I notice,

He repairs
For the sake of, it seems,
The beautifully organized
Orange coneflowers

That lean on the rails
Come September, 
And clingy
Morning glories which

The kids marvel at--
How different they can
Be from evening to day.



Here he comes.
I know he's on his way. I can't
See him but I feel the
Tremor. Maybe outside the
Wind has come up, 
A last leaf ripped from
The squealing oak and
Rain jumps onto the panes
Scared too, 
Trying to get in.
He's coming.
I just know it. 
Taste of metal in my mouth
Green skies.
Welcome the storm.


The Weather in Honduras

81 and partly cloudy
In Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Snowy bits flutter 
Downwind from a
Hanes factory, dusting
The cantaloupes as
They vine through
Pest-free fields.


Have you been enjoying the poetry? Do you have a favorite? A least favorite? Any advice or requests for Elizabeth? Be heard in the comments below.

BJ January 22, 2012 at 11:23 AM
That's just silly verse, not poetry. I recommend you read Sir Philip Sidney's 'An Apology for Poetry' to learn the difference between mere verse and poetry. Then read some of the real stuff.
Robyn Greenspan January 22, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Elizabeth, of the writing classes, reporters are the most direct; novelists have the endurance; but poets are the most vulnerable. Bravery is beautiful, as we've seen in your work. Thanks for letting us in.
Elizabeth Howard January 22, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Thanks for your comments. Here's a great article on "Versus vs. Poetry" from the Poetry Foundation. I welcome anyone all to read it and decide. Part of this process for me is exploring "place" through poetry. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/article/178645 "A poem begins in delight, he says, and ends in wisdom. Verse begins in delight and ends in . . . more delight. The difference between poetry and verse, then, is the difference between an explorer and a tour guide. Verse tells us, finally, that all is well. Poetry, on the contrary, tells us that things are not as we thought they were. Verse does not ask us to change our lives. Poetry does." -- John Barr
Herb Morrison January 23, 2012 at 02:05 AM
I lean toward Charles Bukowski myself. Oh, the humanity!


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