#AtoZChallenge ‘Y’ #NationalPoetryMonth ‘Burning Oak’ by Joyce Carol Oates #amwriting #poem #NaPoWriMo
This year to celebrate National Poetry Month and to take part in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, I’ll be posting two poems a day, one written by me and another poem written by one of my favourite poets. The title or first word of the poem, or the author’s name will begin with the corresponding letter in the Blogging Challenge.
Today I offer you Burning Oak by Joyce Carol Oates, which starts and finishes with the word ‘Yesterday‘ and Unhappy Trees by Luccia Gray.
Burning Oak by Joyce Carol Oates
Yesterday, the sky in mute
horizontal swaths, air
almost too thick to breathe.
we found the stump of an old oak, man-
sized, burning without flame
at the edge of a clearning __ splintered wood
raw, bulldozed roots exposed__
even the black ants fled
in the stink of old grief
made pubic and final, old hopes exposed __
past tense! __ now headless leafless a stump
knocked half out of the earth
and the soul just blue smoke vague
and slow-spreading rising without grace
into an indifferent sky no one will paint,
or photograph, or see__
except us: yesterday.
This poem is about disintegration and regret. The narrator describes the death of a tree, which has become a stump. The oak tree is splintered, bulldozed, roots exposed, leafless, and nobody cares, because no one will paint it, photograph it, or even see it, except the narrator and another person, ‘us’, which leads the reader to believe the real subject of the poem is the end of a relationship, viewed some time after the event. More about Joyce Carol Oates here.
Oates’ poem reminded me of a photograph I took a few days ago of a tree, which had been run over, so I decided to write a poem about this fallen tree, or perhaps it’s about something completely different…
A drunk driver
On his way home
One dark night, hit
The gloomy tree.
It had wished for
A better place
To grow its roots.
It had longed to
By earth and grass.
It’s too late now.
They’ll use what’s left
to light camp fires
And tell chilling
why drunk drivers
Should beware of
Made to grow by
cement, on their
way home at night.
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