God is two brothers, one dark and one light, Riding out Time in a tiny ship; Half day and half night gives little room; God knows that a rose, red rose or white, Is a rose is a rose is a bud is a bloom Is brown blown petals and a drying hip; And the length of Time’s budding, blowing park Walk the arm-linked arguers, Light and Dark.
I wrote this poem in Morocco in my 20s, after an encounter with some of the herbs they grow there. As an aside, I don’t necessarily believe or subscribe to the things I write in my poems – they are just expressions of thoughts, moods, landscapes, overheard conversations or whatever. That said, I still like this poem: I find it simultaneously all-embracing and meaningless, and that’s OK. Apparently my recital of it, while pulling dying petals off a rose bush, captivated a young lady at the beginning of our friendship… and we’ve now been together for 31 years.
The knife of night
Spreads swirls of black and white
Over the slice of here.
The taste is bold:
A pinch of cold,
Spiced with primeval fear.
This little poem was first published in Candelabrum, a British print magazine that ran twice yearly from 1970 for some 40 years. Its editor, Leonard McCarthy, was a lone voice dedicated to keeping traditional poetic sensibilities of metrical and rhymed
The poem itself came from a nighttime ramble in the forests that cut through the residential areas of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Hundreds of acres in town are undevelopable because of steep slopes, creeks and ravines. Where the night woods are unlit except by moon and stars, there are deer, possums, foxes, flying squirrels, owls… copperheads… poison ivy… The night is beautiful, but you can’t help moving through its darkness in a different state of being, compared with daylight.