George Drew: Poems

These poems are a three-part series written at The Frost Place. The series is called “Metaphysics in the White Mountains,” and they are in memory of Don Sheehan.



1. Little Red Berries

(On Poetry and Martin Heidegger)

Well, Martin, the way I see it,

when it comes to poetry and Being

it’s the moves you make getting there

that matter. How glibly I say this,

yet part of me believes it. There was,

after all, the great blue heron that allowed me

to kneel on a two-plank bridge and watch it,

aware that I was watching. That’s a gift,

empirical proof of embodiment, It behind It,

wonder of wonders. Creation honored me today,

and I thank it. Oh, how I thank it!

But there also was the wind. It went slack,

mosquitoes attacked, rain began to fall,

and the way I see it

turned into the way I saw it.

Now the truth of all embodiment is clear.

I say this to you, Martin, one day

after the fifty-ninth Hiroshima Day.

Truth, it seems, is stacked,

the tallest pile in all the world.

This has been a bad summer for clintonia,

only an occasional blue berry to set things right,

and it’s too early for mountain ash,

but see, Martin, poetry, like Being, is.

Little red berries prosper along the trail.

2: Simple Rock

(On Antinomies and Poetry)

In a place of great bleached boulders,

right here amid the white swirling waters

of the brook, this one is dark

nuance of nothing but the dying yellow leaves

of the beeches rising above and over it.

When my mind is too much with me

this is where I come, to this boulder

shrugged off by the Ice Age and left here

to astound me into sonnets and villanelles,

and if I can’t come, to conjure it.

For there is a face in the boulder,

an actual face configured by the lines

and cracks and creases in the stone

as if by divine direction. An older face,

it has a wide brow, like Shakespeare

or Homer, cherubic cheeks made more so

by a lush mustache, a stubby nose,

lips shut so tightly they are thin,

chin narrowed to a goatee, and eyes closed

in what looks to be deep sleep,

or disciplined contemplation.

It’s a gentle face, serene, stone-still,

impervious to emotion, a countenance that

reconciles antinomies by keeping them intact,

and against the rational mind arrays

the deep unmitigated grace of simple rock.

3: No Thrushes Anywhere

(On Disjunction in the Poetry of Thomas Hardy)

I leaned on the new steel rail

of the bridge that spanned the brook

at a spot where the water was mild,

its current muscular but slow,

swirling around the ledges and rocks

in a dazzling display of deference.

There were birds, but no thrushes

anywhere, on each bank a sparrow

or two, and butterflies doing

whatever it is butterflies do.

With wild flowers resplendent in

evening air it was a pretty scene,

but like the thrush before

the darkly charging mountain storm,

melodiously irrelevant. It was

as if this particular brook had

two currents, one going east,

the other west, and there I was,

one leg being pulled in one

direction, one in the other. Oh,

agony! Go east, the heart commands,

but no, the head directs, go west.

Just then, announcing night, a bat

flew over and I pulled back,

my dark weight too much for

something so simple as a thrush’s wing.


3 thoughts on “George Drew: Poems

  1. — The loveliest poetry I’ve read in some time! Brings to my mind a few passages by Frost — walking poems, monologues, faces in Pacific clouds (or Old Man of the Mountain), firkin eyes, brooks. I appreciate that these poems are apt for our current season, the coming autumn. Red berries, red berries … drops of blood … trail markers for the way home .. If I wanted to read the entire series of poems, would I find it in the books “Visiting Frost” or “The Breath of Parted Lips”?

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