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Poems from the Hoot
At the February Hoot Portsmouth Poets were beckoned beyond borders
by New York Performance
poet Marj Hahn and Boston free-lancer/poet Ethan Gilsdorf. Their unique voices brought an
enthusiastic response from the crowd. Hoot host John-Michael Albert added this delightful
surprise to the evening:
I used to think that leaves
make wind-so scientific
my curiosity-that fish breathe water,
that wolves live in the attic
by my bed, that flowers and birds
cause spring, that fruit falls
because no one loves it enough
to pick it, that power lines
are really clothes lines,
strung from pole to pole
to help exhausted clouds rest up,
dry out after rain. Much later,
and much smarter, I read of an 8th grader
who said, "Snow is a cloud lying down";
and all I can say now is,
I remember that kid.
-- John-Michael Albert
Robert Frost held that a poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.
And it does this by saying one thing in terms of another. In Albert's brief lyric, we have
the grown-up poet marveling at how he used
to think as a child-needing answers to the endless questions posed by the physical world.
And those answers were readily served up by the one faculty he could finally trust-his
imagination. Who could disabuse him of the belief in wolves in the attic? In the fact of
fish gulping water to catch breath?
Turning science on its head is what makes this poem so enchanting. And insightful. No high
pressure here. No time, no gravity. (Not the Newtonian kind.) Leaves wave the air to make
wind. Robin and crocus coax spring into place. The loneliness of apple and pear brings
them down. Older and wiser,
the poet realizes the worth of how he once knew the world. The power and authority of the
metaphorical mind is summed up in that 8th grader's image of the snow. Our once junior
scientist will never forget
that kid. Neither will we.
"Junior Scientist" copyright John-Michael Albert, 2005.
Michael is a composer and choral director as well as a poet. His holiday song "A
Seasons for Lovers" is a staple of choral groups across the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
His award-winning poetry appears regularly in The Poet's Touchstone. He lives
Please note: the Poetry Hoot is on the first
Wednesday of every month at Cafe Espresso in the 800 Plaza, Portsmouth, NH. Note:
Poems submitted to this column should not exceed nineteen lines.
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