"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

A Geography-- Pandemic poetry-3

Into Autumn--
   "I am falling
    into the whirlpool
     of Time." --Ken Hada
Pick up this book for a journey into a geography of passing time, of living, of aging, of insights from landscapes and wildlife.
It's taken me almost a month to write that sentence about Okie Ken Hada's new book, Sunlight and Cedar, I suppose because it seems so personal. Poetry, and art, are more needed than ever  as an antidote to these chaotic times, to keep us sane, and human. 
  (Before I tell you more, let's get this out of the way to begin with--you can order it on Ken's website, $18.00 including shipping.  https://kenhada.org/ )
I expect most of these 80 poems in 103 pages were written before the pandemic since the book came out in May. But his words, imagery, and ability to transform an everyday topic into something timeless seems more important. 
Landscapes? Where would you like to travel on a new map? A donut shop? The zoo? Lake Eufaula? Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan, Boundary Waters, Chicago, Milwaukee?
Live Oaks of Texas--
  "They welcome, They invoke.
   A confessional, a shrine,
   they balance a world
   that doesn't always turn just right."
Wildlife? What would you like to see through new eyes? Badgers. bobcat, wolf, coyote, deer, sheep? Birds? Loons, hawks, geese, ducks, juncos, cardinal, pheasant?
Approaching Geese--
   "Clamoring, you hear
   them long before they
   appear." 
They're all here, and more, whether about playing dominos with  his father, or the magic of dawn or memories of a table.
Because I am aging, I think the dominant theme of this book has to do with passing time and aging, which I'm aware of every day. But that doesn't mean it's depressing. It's far more about living, surviving.
A review should entice readers, not bore them with long paragraphs and fancy words, especially when writing about the sparse language of poetry. The best way to do this is to offer you some snippets from Ken's poems. (By the way, all these lines and poems are copyrighted).
Time:
Chicory in the Ditches--
"We are made for the morning.
Starting over is something
we should get right."
Tomorrow--
(driving to play dominoes with his father on Christmas eve)
"Thoughts of holidays past
will come and go, fleetingly,
like birds at the feeder 
hanging just a few feet
from our game...."
"Tomorrow is a pensive word.
Both restless and hopeful."
Passing Solstice--
"...when you have passed the point of no return
you can tell yourself new lies,
making up new truths 
to keep the calendar moving."
Leafless Trees--
"Each winter
seems a bit longer." 
Peshtigo River--
(This is one of the most lyrical in the book)
"Slow me down, Peshtigo
Slow me down.
Let the current flow
past undisturbed."
Black Badgers--
"Everywhere I look, fall confronts me
The human scar-tainting this work,
this place I try to lease destiny"
Sepia--
"We are headed for that time
when color abandons us....
"Sepia is for memories--
a time before."
A Table--
"A table tells so much:
"...A table keeps the secrets of Time."
And if He is Lucky--
"...the rust of life..."
Other images:
Allegory in Blue--
"...like sausage sizzling
in a skillet on a sunny morning."
Frosty Morning--
"Without sun
      there is no shadow;
Without shadows,
     we are never whole." 
Reward--
"From where I sit
a jet flies through the Big Dipper
but nothing spills."
Donut Shop--
--"words
kneaded like dough
hand-stretched
just enough to hold
some flavor."
Morning Hawk--
"...she stalks death in the shadow of morning."
++
That's enough. Ray Bradbury wrote that poetry exercises muscles we don't use. It also helps us see. Ken Hada's poetry does that.
P.S. To read more of his poetry, click on my review of The River White , his book with his watercolor artist brother,  Duane. 





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