Monthly Archives: August 2014

10 poems that look like what they mean

This post from Qwiklit shares a number of poets playing with words and space. I love the mix of words, imagery and tempo. I most enjoyed Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro”, perhaps because of my recent train journey. I keep going back to the rhythm of the train that Pound created with those few words and spaces.


By May Huang

Poets employ various means to get their message across in their poems, ranging from rhyme scheme to alliteration. However, poetic meaning can also be translated visually through a form termed “concrete poetry;” indeed, numerous poets experiment with line breaks and typography to present their work in a way that ‘looks’ the way it is supposed to ‘mean.’ Here are 10 poems whose meanings lie in their appearances:

1) George Herbert – Easter Wings


Published in 1633, George Herbert’s Easter Wings is the oldest concrete poem in this list. A poem about flight in its metaphorical sense, Easter Wings aptly takes the form of a pair of wings (the likeness is even more remarkable if you rotate the poem 90 degrees to the right).

2) 40-Love by Roger McGough

The English poet Roger McGough sends readers’ eyes travelling to and fro the way a tennis ball would across…

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I feel the ghosts return here


I feel the ghosts return here

I feel the ghosts return here, although I have never lived in this place before. The land feels ancient in a way that is different from the history that steeps all of New England. The ghosts return here.

If feel the ghosts return here, although I have never lived in this place before. I feel them walk with me when I am on the dirt path behind the house. They pace beside me, companionable and as undemanding as my dog, but I hear their soft footsteps beside, in front and behind me. I am not sure what they are here to tell me, if anything, or if they are just company. Maybe they are not here for me at all, but for the place, the space, that seems to be home for me.

I feel the ghosts return here, although I have never lived in this place before. The settlers and homesteaders, gold miners and First People are as real and immediate here as my grandfather with his scratchy wool shirts, beard stubble and smoky scent who seems to come down the stairs to check in a couple times a day.

I feel the ghosts return here – I talk to them, sometimes even out loud if I am the only one home, or on a walk by myself. I feel the ghosts return here and they are such good company. I feel the ghosts return here.

Where I am from

Last Fall I attended Patti Digh’s summer camp for adults.  One of the bonus sessions was a writing class facilitated by Patti Digh, Susan Piver and Jennifer Louden.  All three of these women have been part of my virtual world for a long time.  In fact I picked up Jennifer Louden’s “Woman’s Comfort Book” over twenty years ago when I was a young mother.

One of the assignments in that class was a “Where I am From” essay or poem.  I wrote my first “where I am from” in high school and really wish I still had a copy of that first version.

Here is where I am from… today.Santa Barbara Mission

Where I am From
I am from a small city in a big state.
I’m from beaches and rose gardens and hardwood floors.
From bougainvillea and La Tolteca.
I’m from story tellers and listeners, from writers and thinkers and hard workers.
I’m from peasant stock and from scholar farmers.
I am from white stucco walls and red tiled roofs.
From unlocked front doors and secrets in families.
I’m from muesli and chocolate croissants for breakfast and creamed tuna with egg on toast for dinner.
I’m from multi-family gatherings and symphonies, from high school plays and ten performances of the Nutcracker in the week before Christmas.
I am from concerts at the County Bowl.
I’m from “the smart people” and from insecurity.
From creativity, from painting and writing and gardening.
I’m from intellectuals with libraries and lectures and museum memberships.
I’m from high expectations and higher fear of failure.
I’m from many generations at every Christmas and starting our families young.
I’m from home-made school clothes and from vacations in Europe.
I am from attending seminary, from church every Sunday, from choir practice and high liturgy.
I am from agnostics and atheists.
I am from real people, trying to be the best we can be.

On being away….

I have been away for a while.  I traveled to Asia for business immediately followed by a sisters-only vacation (first time since before we had kids of our own!) and suddenly, back in my real life there are a lot of things that I needed to catch up on. Overflowing in-box, looming deadlines, and a lot of virtual blank space here at Autumn Journal.

Even with the incredible pace since I have been back, the warmth of the vacation peace hasn’t worn off. 

I took the California Zephyr from Denver, Colorado to Truckee, California.  It’s been a long time since I traveled long distances by rail.  The trip takes about twenty-four hours  following the Colorado River and then the Truckee River over the Rocky Mountains, across the Utah and Nevada deserts and into the Sierra Nevada.

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It’s easy, in our busy, city centric world to forget that there are still vast, open spaces in our country.  Amazing views; long, long stretches of space and sky.  There’s nothing quite like sleeping on the train, although I will bring my down pillow next time.  On the way home my sister and I packed fruit and pretzels, some chocolate and a nice bottle of red wine so I could skip the pre-fab food options in the dining car.

I desperately needed this trip to fill the creative well and I would recommend a trip via train to anyone who doesn’t have a tight timeline and who doesn’t get ruffled when departure and arrival times are variable! 

So what did you do on your summer vacation?  Did you fill the well?

Here’s a Google+ auto-generated Story about my trip.  I love this feature!