Friday, January 3, 2020


“Allow distractions, don't shoo them away. 
They may be knocking on the door of your poem.” 
Billy Collins

Once when I told a person who studied astrology that I was a Gemini, his response was, “Oh, spaghetti brain.” I laughed because it is so true. My mind can find tangents within tangents within tangents, sometimes ending up finding no answers, but a lot of interesting ideas to pursue later. The Internet has only made my particular pasta more intertwined.

My latest wander began on New Year’s Day when I read Barbara Crooker’s poem “The New Year” on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. I really liked the contradictory nature of this poem that begins with the proverbial door shutting, but the window, instead of opening, slams on your fingers. It concludes on a more positive note, “In spite of everything, you sit at your desk and begin.”

I was not familiar with Crooker and saw that the poem came from her collection Some Glad Morning. That immediately started Albert E. Brumley’s hymn “I’ll Fly Away” playing in my mind, and also reminded me of one of my favorite television programs, also titled “I’ll Fly Away” starring Sam Waterston, long before Law and Order or Grace and Frankie. (You may have noticed there are already three links in this story so you can get distracted too if you choose to).

Much as I love Sam Waterston, I was, at that moment, more interested in the poem, so I went on Amazon to find out more about Crooker and the book. I discovered two things. One, she has been widely published (Why was I just discovering her?) and two, she wrote about some of the same things I did, i.e. faith, peonies, Edward Hopper, and Georgia O’Keeffe. I immediately clicked “Buy now with one click,” (Who invented this irresistible temptation?) and true to Amazon’s promise, it arrived the next day.

So this morning I am still sitting here, long after the oatmeal is finished and Kat has returned to warm my lap, just reading these poems that touch me in familiar and new places. “Black and Purple Petunias” delves into Georgia O’Keeffe’s 1924 painting, one I had not written about in my O’Keeffe collection, Climbing to the Moon. Crooker, like O’Keeffe, sees deep inside the flowers, “They will not let the darkness eat them.” “Peaches in August” delights in these fruits as “the only true light” in a darkening world. I too had written about peach moments.

With each poem I am feeling more and more of a connection with this poet. I go back on the Internet where I find her homepage. I look under Events to see if there is anything close by, and there I see that she’s doing a workshop of ekphrastic poetry at Poetry by the Sea in Madison, CT, in May. Perfect! Poetry, art, the ocean, and meeting my new favorite poet! Sign me up.

So, Billy, I didn’t get a poem from my journey, but a blog post. And I think I’ll go back to “I’ll Fly Away” and write something, It’s still playing in my mind.

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