Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Book of Common Poetry


'Seems I can't tell the difference between a cedar and a hemlock, my botanist friend informed me today. In yesterday's blog, I misnamed the tall tree in my Tennessee backyard a "cedar." Turns out that it is a hemlock, behind which deer hide and peer out at me as I plant rock roses and more begonias, hoping they won't devour them in the night. Readers, forgive the tree misnomer.

My brother Paul's wife, Laurel, sent me an e-mail this morning saying they like the covers on my chapbooks of poetry taken from paintings done by Paul, some of which they hadn't seen until I mailed copies of chapbooks to them last week. The paintings are abstracts and represent an awakening to a better life that Paul experienced about 20 years ago. I particularly like the cover on "The Book of Uncommon Poetry" where bright red, yellow, and green colors spiral upward toward a night sky, away from dark stalagmite-like formations below, as if reaching toward a higher power. The stalagmite-like formations may have been inspired by a childhood journey to the West, or "Diddy Wah Diddy," an abrupt exodus from Louisiana we made to California, to find a better life back in the 40's (and didn't... returning to Louisiana within three months). We stopped at Carlsbad Caverns on the way westward and were fascinated with the dark stalagmites on the floor of the caverns. A memory of this childhood experience may have inspired the "floor" of Paul's painting -- I don't really know. A picture of Paul's rendering on the cover of the chapbook, "The Book of Uncommon Poetry," can be found at the site of

Here's the first poem (sometimes called a minimal poem) that appears in "The Book of Uncommon Poetry:" It's entitled "Uncommon Prayer:"


Only a few short years ago,
poems rushed from my heart
like small green birds released
from crude cages in the Persian bazaar,
flying home...
sentiments of uncommon prayer.
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