#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…



Unhappy Trees


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

Be surrounded

By earth and grass.

It’s too late now.

They’ll use what’s left

to light camp fires

And tell chilling

Stories about

why drunk drivers

Should beware of

unhappy trees,

Made to grow by

ugly roadsides,

Surrounded by

cement, on their

way home at night.


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Published by LucciaGray

Writer, blogger, teacher, reader and lover of words wherever they are. Author of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, the breathtaking sequel to Jane Eyre. Luccia lives in sunny Spain, but her heart's in Victorian London.

3 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge ‘Y’ #NationalPoetryMonth ‘Burning Oak’ by Joyce Carol Oates #amwriting #poem #NaPoWriMo

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