Fishing for Poems
I was asked, what is poetry like?
I thought, it’s like fishing.
You set up your intentions
on the bank of the page
and cast off into the current
of images and ideas.
to nibble your bait, sink
the float and the poem bites.
Now the struggle begins:
wrestling with imagery,
trying to land the language
on the bank of verses.
Out of the water plops
the first draft. Disappointingly
Poets never exaggerate the catch.
A poem is always ‘this’ big,
often smaller, a tiddler
in the powerful play,
but still something to contribute
to Whitman’s waters.
Always Hoping To Write a Great Poem
Often the keyboard is sterile. I stare
out of the window and watch the trees.
Maybe something no one has ever said about trees.
Forget the clouds, too obvious.
The blue sky, yawn.
Birds bouncing around, little Buddha’s
not having to worry about creation.
I hear the song of a hundred ghostly ideas
ganging up behind me, giggling.
I sense the almost complete emptiness
inside every atom. Ideas like electronics
zip around, all potential, waves of hope.
I feel the bonding of a basic shape.
But as I write, it wriggles and flitters
out of my mind. I grab, but it is gone.
Just the scent and shadow,
a fear I will never know the elements
to turn leaden words into gold.
Matthew James Friday is a British-born writer and teacher. He has been published in numerous international journals, including The Dillydoun Review, Lunch Ticket, The Oregon English Journal and Shot Glass Journal. The micro-chapbooks All the Ways to Love, The Residents, Waters of Oregon and The Words Unsaid were published by the Origami Poems Project (USA). Matthew is a 2021 Pushcart Prize nominated poet.
The Mole Crab
Bandon beach. An elderly woman
caged in a pink coat pokes exposed
soft shells and mechanical innards.
She calls out to ask what it all is.
We stand around hypothesizing:
prehistoric crab? Armored shrimp?
Feathery hems confuses us all.
She asks us to find out, tell her.
Her husband rolls his eyes.
The internet says: mole crab.
They live in the frothy surf,
flying little filament flags to catch
the drifting winds of plankton.
We see the woman on the way back.
Despite deafness, we inform her.
A few waves of gratitude and she
wanders off with husband to bury
herself back into our unknowing.
Route 22 Memorial
On Route 22 to Bend we pass Mill City and
the blasted heaths of last summer’s fires,
so bad they closed Portland, millions muffled.
The road passes through blackened brigades
of Santiam Forest trees and piles of the fallen,
heaped up in snow stained charnel clearances.
In vacated lots the rubble of homes linger,
indiscriminately chosen by the concentration,
a few ironic fireplaces and chimneys still standing.
Skeletal cars lay scattered like shells. Trailers
have multiplied. Blink and you might think tourists.
A few pristine houses escaped the fist of the fire.
The burnt skin of the hills with charcoaled trees
like my grandfather whose hair fell out during
World War Two’s shock and North African heat.
The Santiam river slips past guiltily. We climb
towards the Willamette National Forest, soothing
rain becoming concerning snow. At Detroit Lake,
we find a European battlefield, blackened stumps
memorialising the mud. The dead cleared to create
a buffer zone. On one side of Detroit, a motel sign
hangs by the stony scar of itself. On the other side
the grocery store is still surviving. More rubble piles,
more sudden trailer living and lonely fireplaces.
Leaving we smell woodsmoke and see smoldering
signals that in the earth not all is forgotten, people
trying to live and not worry about next summer.
Matthew James Friday is a British-born writer and teacher. He has been published in numerous international journals, including, recently: Dawntreader (UK), The Dillydoun Review (USA), VerbalArt (India), and Lunch Ticket (USA). The micro-chapbooks All the Ways to Love, The Residents, Waters of Oregon, and The Words Unsaid were published by the Origami Poems Project (USA). Matthew is a 2021 Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. Learn more about him at http://matthewfriday.weebly.com.