Tuesday, August 13, 2002

This Is Not a Tree
Joseph Barron

White oak or black oak? Black, we'll say,
With jigsaw-puzzle leaves.
Down the branches, with the wind,
Twigs fall like pieces of a jetliner
That blew up at thirty thousand feet.
Marking time beside the office park,
It occupies what space it can afford.
In the beginning was the word
Already trading fact for plastic souvenirs
That fit neatly in the overhead compartment?

The oak puts out to sea.
Bark wet-black, it stands rooted on the water.
Trunk and crown cut the trade-wind swells
As though the polar caps had melted
And the ocean swamped
Miss Liberty.
An evil sky descends like minor thirds.
At the end of endings lies the word.

This poem — posted with permission — is by one of my oldest and dearest friends. Not only does he selflessly send me cool packages from Philadelphia (Wagner on CD, so I can play Ride of the Valkyries as I roar down the road in my truck), he also sends me his poetry, which I would love even if I didn't know him.

Thanks, Joe.

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