Words from Neale Woods

From Red, White, Blue. Morpo Press, 2003.

The sun moves warmly above me as if in apology
that this will be the last short sleeve day before winter
cuts in. The trees already blush and thin,
wave remaining leaves like party favors, like prayer flags,
as the sky opens up through their cracks.

I feel pulled to hike in the woods when seasons change,
take the landscape and river in my hands and squeeze
out poems and photographs. I distill the beauty
to my tastes, filter the pulp out and present it
as if I created.

Really, what I’m making, are images with a machine I barely understand,
I’m making words that someone before me made.
I can’t even figure out how the ink inside the ink tube
only flows one way, how the ball of the ballpoint
lets through just the right amount.

Socrates was right when he said whatever he said
about ignorance. Or maybe I’m just misremembering ideas
from “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,”
maybe I’m just dismembering fashionable facts
So I can attempt to appear deep.

The Missouri is deep, both the river and the word.
The woods are entirely lovely, dark, and deep.
I am deep: my toes in the river, my head in the trees
whose remaining leaves imitate the sound of a rainstorm
that only sometimes releases a few yellow drops.

I am deep. I am deep underneath, drowning
like the trees do each year
in a fight they’re accustomed to drowning in,
I am in way over my head.

Poem copyright Matt Mason, used here with permission.

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