Summer Concerts

The katydids and stridulant cicadas
Regale us with their aestival sonatas.

At night, surrounded by the song of crickets,
We listen just as though we’d paid for tickets.

first published in The Lyric

 

 

In Praise of Delay

Already it is June,
And shrubs that flower in the spring
Have gone ahead and done their thing,
At least a month too soon

In my opinion. Why
Can they not wait a little while
And cater to the floraphile
Who craves a pink July?

Impatience is to blame
For this, unless I miss my guess;
If faced with procreative stress
Perhaps I’d do the same

And burgeon weeks ahead
Of time. I often ask too much
Of shrubs with which I keep in touch:
To follow me instead

Of nature. Let me say
In my defense that no good plant
Is forced to flower when it can’t,
But some will find a way.

 

 

Evening Approaches on the Fourth

“… Here once the embattled farmers stood ….” —Ralph Waldo Emerson, from “Concord Hymn”

Some large exfoliating tawny patches
Of bark hang loosely from the river birch
Which shades our patio, and they remind
___Us of the parchment signed
Two centuries ago when State and Church
___Were one. A robin catches

A caterpillar on the ground, and thus
Seems fully fit and able to declare
Its independence. While mosquitoes hover
___Like suitors round a lover,
Aggressive squads of swifts patrol the air
___Above, defending us

From reinforcements. Many kinds of flowers
Close up at night, but we have planted others
That open after dark: They summon moths
___As checkered tablecloths
Might summon us, and like attentive mothers
___We watch them play for hours.

first published in Strong Verse

 

 

C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden.  Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Australia and India.  His collection, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder was published in 2013 by White Violet Press.


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24 Responses

  1. Peter Austin

    These are delightful of content and writing. I love the dry, understated humour that hovers in their background.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Peter,

      For the latter, it’s not a matter of craft; I think it’s just my natural voice.

      Reply
  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    What’s especially nice is Kip Anderson’s unfettered use of recondite vocabulary: “stridulant,” “aestival,” “floraphile,” and “exfoliating.” This shows a healthy contempt for the brainless simplicity of current poetic trends.

    Reply
    • Joe Tessitore

      Can contempt ever be healthy?
      Is it “brainless simplicity” to write so that others understand?
      I don’t know what any of those words mean (though some could be deduced from their context) and have read just about all of Robert Frost, without once having to retreat to the dictionary.

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        Susan,

        Even Americans, if they know how to pronounce the word, render both “A”s as “ah.” “Aestival” is not such an unusual word. It goes along with “vernal,” “autumnal” and “hibernal.”

      • C.B. Anderson

        Joe, there’s nothing wrong with simple words. But please bear in mind that the English language contains a larger vocabulary than any other language (due in part, I suppose, to the reach of the British Empire), and it’s never a bad idea for a writer to use as much of it he or she can. For myself, I never read anything without a good dictionary at hand.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        You say “ci-cay-da”, I say “ci-cah-da” – let’s call the whole thing off!

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        To Joe T. —

        Yes, contempt can be quite healthy if it is directed towards silly and destructive trends in both literature and education. The current attempt to stifle any poetic use of words that aren’t in the third-grade Basal Vocabulary List is one of those trends.

        Part of the enjoyment of good literature is the side benefit of learning and cherishing unfamiliar words. Shakespeare and Milton were so aware of this that they personally invented several hundreds of new coinages, and made use of many obscure terms.

    • C.B. Anderson

      The funny thing, Joseph, is that once such words become part of one’s vocabulary, they become familiar friends, no longer recondite.

      Reply
  3. T. M.

    C. B.:

    So delightful. Almost thou persuades me to enjoy summer. I’m counting the days until fall, but your verse encourages me not to miss the beauty and joy of (ugh) summer. Blessings.

    Reply
    • T. M.

      “persuadest” I meant to say, before the spelling corrector interfered.

      Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      It’s not all bad, T.M., and it has its own unique set of benefits, but on my next post I will examine the downside of summer.

      Reply
      • T.M.

        I can supply you with ample reasons, if you need any, which I doubt. I look forward to reveling in that post.

  4. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    I simply adore these poems! All three of them shine like beams of summer sun and I’m basking in beauty of your mellifluous eloquence. I have added the word “aestival” to my collection jar of words, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed those “stridulant cicadas” with their “aestival sonatas” (is that the U.K pronunciation of cicada?). To me they sound like mini screeching banshees that bash my ears with their belligerent blare.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Sorry, Susan. My comment above to your comment got misplaced, and it was supposed to follow yours.

      Reply
  5. James A. Tweedie

    The Master of Enjambment strikes again and hits three bullseyes with one blow! Good show, C.B., and I didn’t even have to pay for the tickets!

    Reply
  6. Julian D. Woodruff

    Mr. Anderson,
    Immensely skilful and beautifully observed! On no. 2, to take a different position (in less erudite language) …

    Plums rush to blossom early
    ‘Round San Francisco Bay.
    You’ll see them Januarily,
    E’en sooner, bathed in sunny ray.

    In western New York state
    All blossomed branch and brush
    Turn up boorishly late.
    They smirk at me: “Hey, what’s the rush?”

    Reply
  7. Sultana Raza

    Well done C.B.! It’s good to see that you practice what you preach, ie follow your own advice regarding enjambment in your own poems. I must say my order of preference would be the 1st, the 3rd, and then the 2nd one (in terms of concept). For what it’s worth, I also agree with Dr Salemi that:
    “Part of the enjoyment of good literature is the side benefit of learning and cherishing unfamiliar words.”

    Reply
  8. David Watt

    C.B., you have provided me with a refreshing glimpse of summer in the midst of our Canberra winter.
    I appreciate your use of less commonly used words. The only stipulation in using unfamiliar words should be that they are in context. There can be no doubt that the words you have used add clarity and meaning.

    Reply
  9. Monty

    Regarding your third piece, CB: it was most refreshing to notice a rhyme-scheme rarely seen on these pages. I admire your imagination and boldness in dispensing with the ‘everyday’!

    As for the piece as a whole: it’s pleasing to see enjambement used so freely and comprehensively (such usage reinforces my long-held belief that most poetry should be read as prose – capital letter to full-stop; or sentence by sentence – regardless of where lines end); and it’s that very use of enjambement which enabled you to contain the whole piece to just four sentences. Masterful.

    Reply

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