First, a little context. This past weekend, I spend some time at a Laity Lodge retreat leading three days of poetry workshops alongside Earl Palmer, Dan Blazer, Ashley Cleveland, Kenny Greenberg, Meg Lowry, and Mike Lundy.
Earl Palmer is a fantastic preacher and speaker. He taught about wisdom in the book of Proverbs. In contrast, Dan Blazer, the head of Psychiatry at Duke University taught us about wisdom in Ecclesiastes, with a tremendous amount of insight from his profession. Ashley and Kenny are just both the epitome of cool.
In the afternoons, Meg, Mike, and I led creative arts. Meg taught block printing. Mike taught tennis and birding. (That’s a form of physical art and, um, natural art. Mike is a superb tennis instructor and a genuinely good man.) I taught poetry–emphasizing haiku this time in a way that I’ve not done before. It’s a form that I am really falling in love with, though my haiku are quite a bit different from Ryan Mecum’s. (Ryan is a minister for Young Life, and I’m working with him to write some articles for TheHighCalling.org in time for Halloween 2010.)
Yesterday L. L. Barkat asked for poems of place. Here’s a crazy little sonnet that came out of a haiku:
Texas Tree Poker
Texas scrub oak and Mountain Juniper grow
together along the river, roots tight
in the rocky soil. Every Friday night
trees fan out a deck of cards,
like tricky Vegas dealers, dealing them low,
5 hands of Texas Hold ‘Em out of sight
from the other trees. Ante up. Bidding starts right
off, high stakes tonight because tomorrow they mow.
Our grassy shirts and sleeves will be cut short,
our trunks like necks will rise naked from the dirt
almost, after their machine blades are done.
But tonight we play, we deal, we risk and poor’s
the loser who bluffs himself until he’s first
to lose his shirt in the dew of the morning sun.
Photograph, “BOLDer Adult Retreat at Laity Lodge,” by bobgjohnson.