Sample Poetry

THE PRESENCE OF TREES

Slowly, I am remembering
the language of awe, ‪

how to take in, say, ‪
the living complexity of a tree

its gnarled trunk,
its ragged bark, ‪

the way its leafy canopy
filters sunlight

down to the brown
carpeted ground,

the way the wind bends my heart
to the exquisite presence of trees ‪

the forest that calls to me as deeply
as I breathe,

as though the woods were
marrow of my bone as though

I myself were tree, a breathing, reaching
arc of the larger canopy

beside a brook bubbling to foam
like the one

deep in these woods,
that calls

that whispers home.

. . . Michael S. Glaser

From: Fire Before the Hands
. Also in: Between Earth and Sky, by Nalini M. Nakarni (University of California Press), 2008. Also in: Tree Magic, [CD anthology], (SunShine Press), 2005
Copyrighted, please do not use without permission of the author.

 

ANGLES OF SUNLIGHT

As I read Zen in the morning,
my young daughter leaves her bed
and lies next to me on the sofa
where sunlight angles through the window.

In half-sleep, her brown eyes
stare off at the large oak
unleaving in front of the house.

I cup her head in the palm of my hand,
feel the chambers of my heart fill and empty,
fill and empty like the words on the page fill

my spirit like the air in her purple balloon
like the breath of her lungs as her chest
rises and falls like the leaves on that tree
dancing in the wind and knowing

 as they know,
something important
about attachment, ‪
about letting go.


 . . . .Michael S. Glaser

From Being a Father
Copyrighted, please do not use without permission of the author.

 

THE ECONOMY OF DAYS

To want, to have, to do–
the verbs I live‪
in perpetual unrest.

How difficult to be–
to embrace the homely
details of my days

to open my heart
to the flow
of this amphibious life,

to trust in the motion toward
as a fish trusts
the river at its gills,

to trust in this journey,
to swim,
to be still.

. . . .Michael S. Glaser

 from: Fire Before the Hands
. Previously Appeared in Turning Wheel
Copyrighted, please do not use without permission of the author.

 

A BLESSING FOR THE WOODS

Before I leave, almost without noticing,
before I cross the road and head toward
what I have intentionally postponed-

‪Let me stop to say a blessing for these woods:
for crows barking and squirrels scampering
for trees and fungus and multi-colored leaves

for the way sunlight laces shadows
through each branch and leaf of tree
for these paths that take me in,
for these paths that lead me out.

….Michael S. Glaser

Published in
Christian Science Monitor; Between Earth and Sky, By Nalini M. Nadkarni (University of California Press), 2008; Tree Magic [CD anthology], (SunShine Press), 2005
Copyrighted, please do not use without permission of the author.

 

LETTER TO MY FIFTH GRADE TEACHER

Dear Miss Lorenz:

I ‘m writing because I was remembering you today,
how soft and kind your voice was and how your eyes
sparkled with laughter and light

which is why I wanted to impress you
and why I was so afraid of spelling
where I knew you would discover
I was just another stupid kid.

And so, on the day of the Big Spelling Test,
I made that tiny piece of paper
and when we put our books away,
I cupped it in my hand for use

only when absolutely necessary.
And you moved up and down
the rows of our desks
pronouncing words until
you stopped next to me,
called out a word and,
when everyone was writing,
reached into my clenched fist,
took the paper and then
walked on.

You never made an example of me,
never spoke to my parents about it,
or even mentioned it to me.
And you never treated me differently either,
just went on as though nothing had happened.

But, of course, something did:

I never cheated again, Miss Lorenz.

I never stole another candy bar
or money from the box
in the top of my father’s dresser –
or from my mother’s purse.‪

And I am writing to thank you
for treating me with dignity
even as you caught me,
red-handed in sin.

It was as close to Grace as I have ever been.
Perhaps some day I’ll know it once again.

. . . . Michael S. Glaser

From Disrupting Consensus.
 Also appeared in Igniting Creativity in Gifted Learners, K-6 (Corwin Press), 2009
Copyrighted, please do not use without permission of the author.

 

MAGNIFICAT!

Tonight, on holiday in Oxford, Bach’s Magnificat.‪
The top windows of the Sheldonian are open and music
surrounds the building, drifting down Broad street
where we walk in the cool of evening’s extended light.

Eva races down the cobbled path, leaps small tour jetés
on the gravel. We try to hush her exuberance,
but her grin is too full, the brightness
in her eyes too light, too light . . . .

Watching her, I think of my grandfather telling how
in the old country, near Kiev, his family locked
their doors and hid in the basement each Easter
when Christians, leaving church, raced down
the cobbled streets of the Jews, hurling stones
and dung at anyone they saw, chanting
“Christ killers, Christ killers . . . .”

This evening, the inheritance of generations overwhelms:
the impossibility of even imagining all this,
years ago when grandfather, escaping from Russia,
knocked down a guard and ran for his life, for the life
of this very child, running with abandon,
to the sounds of the Magnificat–

Gloria Patri, Gloria Filio,
Gloria et spiritui sancto.

 . . . Michael S. Glaser

from: Being a Father. Also published in The Silenus and Outsiders, (Milkweed Editions), 1999
Copyrighted, please do not use without permission of the author.

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2 comments on “Sample Poetry

  1. Thank you. Every morning I make Arabic coffee, take the first hot cup in hand, walk to my living room window, alternating right and left window each day, and gaze out at trees, recite the poem “The Presence of Trees” and begin my day, grateful. Once in a while I forget a word or hesitate, is it “wood” or “woods” and Google to correct myself.
    This morning I wavered on this uncertainty of singular or plural, googled the poem, and found a few more by the same poet. What a lovely way to begin a day!

  2. Mr. Glaser, I thought you’d enjoy knowing that your poem, “A Blessing for the Woods” was read today at the conclusion of the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society Induction ceremony at Denison. It was such a fitting poem as our senior prepare to leave the woods on this beautiful hill moving into their adult lives.

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