Treasure Island

Warren Falcon

(04/23/52 - xxxx / Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA)

Ars Poetica Redux


Dying trees fall easily.
Poems, too, as they should.
Dead wood rots from which
One good poem may grow,
The better to hear in the higher
Branches, the creaking lower limbs.

Sequestering lovers late afternoon
Whisper. One is carving the bark,
A crude heart with names within.

Now unread, unspoken but for the overgrown
Path, a bark-less scar now where was the heart,
Without thought, without desire, write only this,

'How arms entwine, how branches break'.

Submitted: Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Edited: Monday, August 01, 2011

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  • Warren Falcon (12/28/2009 1:53:00 AM)

    Thanx for your comment, Justin. I understand your confusion. Let me see if I can address what you've pointed out. In this poem I attempt 3 things (in retrospect I see these 3 things but not while I was writing the poem) :

    1) I take 'a common illness', LOVE and loss of love, as my theme without saying it directly ('O Love o careless love, you took my underwear, my boxers now amidst coffee grounds in the trash bin, the left over, tossed out corned beef hash which is what my heart now is, corned hashed tossed canned...without your love (O my boxers!) how can I call myself a man in the world? Ah, gods. My heart is broken, alas and hash. etc.) .

    2) the title implies that the poet is going to 'teach' something about the 'art of poetry' (redux means revisited/again, implying that the art of poetry, the learning and discovery of it is never ending) so the first stanza begins with the comparing of dead trees and poetry growing from the rot of bad poems written but something is learned from even writing a bad poem (which is like the mulch of dead trees rotting into rich soil) ...this obvious comparison is the stating of what it is the poet is going to teach by comparison.

    3) the 2nd stanza teaches by demonstration. Woods, Love, late afternoon, lovers whispers to each other (wind in leaves?) , a lover carving the classic heart into the bark, writing their names/initials within it. Then, time passes, the lovers have broken up, hearts are broken, but none of this is said directly/overtly...the art of poetry in this case is DISTILLED in the last line, 'how arms entwine, how branches break, ' the branches allude to the lovers arms once passionately entwined, and the breaking of love, their broken hearts, the later recall or forgetfulness of that other heart, carved on the old tree alluding to the hurt of love which forms part of the character of lovers in life much as a scar on tree bark is part of the tree's character.

    Of course, if the poem succeeds at all it combines all of the above effectively and becomes either good enough or provides more mulch from which, if a failure, another better poet and poem may emerge. One must get used to the dead poems, allow them to fall, rot and patiently, patiently, the poet waits for a new poem to emerge from the rich loam and resonant allusions which come from a chance glance at a barely discernible carved heart grown over on an old tree. If only trees can talk. 'The better to hear...' They do, if we listen. And don't interpret too much. (Report) Reply

  • Justin Unanue (12/27/2009 11:47:00 PM)

    I am confused. You used visuals(the tree) but also bluntly stated the comparison (poetry) . Is this the right way? (Report) Reply

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