A very finely scattered sigh
Of bashful mist would nigh attend
My view and try—one wonders why—
To dare with utmost care to blend
The reigning stateliness of trees on high.

And yes, my half-closed eyes approved
The quiet fill of unused space
As nothing else at all had moved
Or changed the forest’s tranquil pace,
Its primal lace of branches—none reproved.

Why did the saving salve of mist,
So needed to appear there when
The air the thirsty planet kissed,
Just come then at the count of ten
To validate the last eternal twist?

The gentle moisture soaked the soul,
Fast drying from exertion spent
On urgent tasks, which was its role:
Avoiding where the wayward went
And striving steadfast toward the sacral goal.



Leo Zoutewelle was born in 1935 in The Netherlands and was raised there until at age twenty he emigrated to the United States.  After retiring in 2012  he has written an autobiography and two novels (unpublished).

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10 Responses

  1. Peter Hartley

    Leo – Very fine poetry, and just what I have come to expect from you, with very rhythmic lines, good use of language and something to say. I thought I had detected an error in the last line, thinking it was over-syllabled until I remembered (rare nowadays in UK) that the word “toward” can be pronounced TORD, and your pronunciation is sanctioned by all good English dictionaries. I particularly like the scattered sigh of bashful mist.

    • Leo Zoutewelle

      Thank you, Peter, for your comments, which meant a lot to me.

  2. Sally Cook

    Dear Leo –
    I am not looking for errors in your carefully considered work. What I desire from it is tone.
    I would like it to be more like waves crashing against a cliff – each incoming wave creating a unique resurgence of the water. .Sometimes .one can get so caught up in internal rhyme or any other rule, thatthat one loses sight of the paradox of both the differences and the similarities of each wave.
    We all do it. Do you see what I mean? The water crashes down, but with repetition, the meaning can get obscured.
    If you were to put this very carefully considered poem aside to form and assign priorities, and then come back to it in a little while it would read differently. The tone of it would emerge, to be emphasized or diminished.
    The tone is part of poetry’s magic. Joseph Salemi is one of the few who is expert in knowledge of both. So were Leo Yankevich and the English poet Whitworth. Sadly, both are gone, but their work remains.
    Sometimes in our zeal to follow all the rules we forget we are writing a poem.
    We all do it. Then along come those who carry rule books, to correct us. Very nice of them, but sometimes very shortsighted. I would not open myself to what is bound to come next if I did not respect your work and think you were a true poet.

    • Leo Zoutewelle

      I’m really sorry, Sally; I know this will disappoint you. I was not looking for what you called “tone’. I entered what I thought was “tone”. In this poem I did not want “crashing waves” or what they signify. In short, I did not exactly know what you meant. If I were to follow your suggestions I would be trying to imitate what you might call “your style” and that would not do any good. But I very much appreciate your comments, which I will re-read over time to see if I can come any closer to them. Thank you, Sally.
      Leo Z.

      • Sally Cook

        To Joe Tessitore –
        There is more to a poem than its bones.
        Thank you, Joe for believing in what cannot be seen.

  3. Sally .

    Leo, I am deeply sorry if I offended you. Obviously I did not make myself clear, and I do apologize. I continue to admire your work.

    • Leo Zoutewelle

      No, of course, Sally, no offense taken! I am glad to get your remarks.

  4. C.B. Anderson

    Leo, I found “tone” enough in this poem — not crashing waves, but ripples in a brook or condensation dripping from conifer needles. I also liked the heterometric final lines of each stanza. Heterometric lines are fine so long as they are employed regularly in a poem’s structure, and you have ably mastered this device.

    • Leo Zoutewelle

      Dear CB, I was most flattered to get praise from you, and it was helpful as well. Thank you.


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