April is National Poetry Month!
Poetry has the power to open you up and suspend time, elevate you. It opens the door into the moment. It's too long a story to tell here, but suffice it to say that my life profoundly changed in 1997, and it was the poetry of Yeats, Rilke, Mary Oliver and David Whyte that provided me with an emotional path forward.
I'll be posting one poem every day here from "Raised In The Shadow", the book I wrote in Nashville when I put down my songwriting pen and picked up my carpenter's tool belt again; when writing a collection of poems felt not just important, but necessary.
It took a year and it wasn't until it was finished and I saw it in print that I understood I'd written an autobiography in 25 poems. Note: You can scroll to the bottom of this post to hear me read you the poem of the day.
To those who asked why he spent so much time re-writing his poems, Yeats wrote:
"The friends that have it I do wrong
Whenever I remake a song
Should know what issue is at stake
It is myself I remake."
A good poem is a lightning bolt that comes at you at an unfamiliar angle (Emily Dickinson said to "Tell the truth, but tell it slant.") and suddenly you see something in an entirely different way, understand something that, in retrospect, seemed obvious, but you'd never understood it in quite that way before. It thrills me to know that it was often in the act of writing the poem that the poet is gifted with that sudden insight and often doesn't recognize it him/herself until reading the finished work!
Happy National Poetry Month my friends and on to today's offering. Father's Day is next month, so why don't I start with one about mine.
Once, as a young boy driving home with dad
in his old green work van, he sighed:
"You know son, sometimes I feel like
I want to just keep driving."
It was many years before I understood
his meaning: how job and family can
imprison a man behind the bars of
someone else's expectations.
A few hard highway miles of my own
behind me, I found myself mouthing
those words to my 10-year-old son.
In that moment, it felt like
the ends of a circle were joined,
a circle with an ancient circumference
on which each of us finds their place.
For me, it happened in a '77 Silverado
on a long stretch of I-40
headed west, into the sun.
Poetry has changed my life--- maybe it has had (will have?) that effect on you! Consider this: taking the time to read a few poems is a sure-fire antidote to the new 60-second TikTok mentality.
Click below to hear me read today's poem and I hope it inspires you find another poem or two to sprinkle into your day.
See you tomorrow!