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Guest Poet Jim Gramann

The Hickory

In the face of ninety years,
honed against her sweat,
memories ploughed deeply—
Dakota, the fruitless toil
on the homestead, their
abandonment by raw,
ungiving soil.

Decades later, with
a hatchet, she would assault
the lifetime's store of shadows
cast by a hickory
against her garden rows.

I would argue with her,
why cut this splendid tree?

And she would turn, the ancient
stare graveling her face
gone dry as wells, girdled
by a grueling shade,
resolute and hardened
as heartwood she must kill.

God made the earth a garden.

June, 2001

Jim Gramann's Questions:

1. Is the fourth stanza of this poem (And she would turn . . .) too long? Is "Deep-rooted" needed?

2. Does the final line seem contrived?

Questions Asked of Divergent Poets

If we dream in that divergent air a certain slant of light,
take the road less traveled by, feeling out of sight
for ideal grace—in that air, would the shade and shine
of sea transcend from weary blues? Could all our yesterdays
conceive these last sad verses written for her? When we assign
affliction sent us of the air to light and half-lit dreams,
what dreams may come or fools tread softly on those dreams?

June, 2001

Jim Gramann's Questions: 1. By nature, a cento (poem composed of parts of other poems) is derivative. However, is the meaning of this poem too derivative to be creative?

Does it lean too much on Hamlet's soliloquy--"what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil must give us pause . . .")

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