In fourth grade, Mr. Alsop at Switlik School in Jackson, New Jersey assigned me and my classmates the task of writing an original poem. He suggested various possible topics, among which was a grand sailing ship, the one that I chose for my verse.
The resulting masterpiece ran thus:
Look at that great big ship.
It reminds me of my friend’s dog Skip.
He would be fine
Without a spine.
In reviewing my offering, Mr. Alsop praised me for my skill with rhyme. He soon turned, however, to some suggestions relating to the meaning and direction of my poem. He submitted that perhaps a poem about a ship should not divert its attention to invertebrate canines, who, incidentally, would be anything but “fine.”
This composition from my early youth has as its counterpart in significance a piece that I wrote six years ago–thirty-eight years after my experience with Mr. Alsop, twenty-six after my studies with the poet Jon Volkmer at Ursinus College, and two full decades after the influence of John Taggart during my graduate studies at Shippensburg University. I posted it on this blog just over three years ago.
I would not necessarily put forth this poem as a good one; instead, I regard it as precisely the kind of poetry I had hoped to compose one day.
Awareness is as water from the sky:
It mists, condenses, falls; it runs, collects.
A droplet–the perceptions of a fly;
And scattered puddles–beastly intellects.
A lake contains the ponderings of a sage;
And tribal teachings rush the river’s flow.
As tributaries merge from age to age,
The oceans swell with all that billions know.
As sunlight warms the seas, they yield the air
A portion back of their dear conscious worth.
And heaven briefly holds its sacred share
Before the rains fall back upon the earth.
The countless drops that think themselves their own:
One substance in the waking world, alone.