Friday, June 18, 2010

Two Poems for Writer's Island

The Gift

birds have flight
fish breathe underwater
plants make their own food

nature has bestowed
the gift on all
but in each
it takes a different form

we have our minds
and everything that stems
from that gift

but now I have
to wonder if
we've used ours well

we've invented devices
so that we can fly
and breathe underwater

we've even gone farther
than all other living things
into orbit and beyond

but what of compassion?
we have not done things
with, but for

we copied the birds
we imitated the fish
and the plants?

we need them
but we don't want
to be like them

we bent them
to our will
to serve our needs

lower than pets
stuck in pots
arrayed in fields

concentration camps
that don't need fences
to keep the prisoners

cultivation now to me
seems like subjugation
domination not dominion

you might say
plants don't feel
we're not doing them harm

you might be right
maybe the plants
are happy to serve us

you might be wrong
maybe the plants scream
at us but we cannot hear

there are waves
we cannot see or hear
out gift doesn't extend that far

maybe it's foolish
to think that plants can feel --

see, even I do it
thinking I can impose
my perspective on others

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to The Gift prompt at Writer's Island.

* * * * *

The Key

my house key looks a lot
like my classroom key
I get them mixed up
all the time

what does that say
about me
and my priorities?

their shape is similar
but they are noticeably
different in size
so why don't I notice?

when the key doesn't fit
I know it's the wrong one
it's tactile, not visual

(I can't even talk
about my car key
that symbol of shame
and complicity

because the closest
gas station to my house
is Arco, a BP brand)

what hangs me up though
is that definite article
I want to know
what the key to life is

is it love? is that
the key? or is it
fidelity to that love?

or is it just silly
of me to play
grammar games with the phrase?
as if that were cleverness

I've already talked
of different keys, so one
is obviously not the answer

my work, my home,
my car which transports me
between the two, and my wife
who holds the key to my heart

the physical keys
and the metaphorical
are all splayed about me

so how do I choose?
or are all my choice?
and thus all are
ways to unlock me

now I understand, I think,
that the key is not
the answer, but the question

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to The Key prompt at Writer's Island.


  1. Enjoyed both of these.

  2. Thank you, Anthony.

  3. I loved reading both of these! Thanks for sharing!


    p.s. Thanks for commenting on my blog! It's greatly appreciated!

  4. I didn't contribute to the gift topic this week but somehow, this rather than the other, really rang my bell. Personification of plants and animals is very real to me. I often fail at gardening and frequently blame it on my state of mind. My garden is confusion and neglect, would be about right. Life changes and gifts gain and lose value. Thus the good news is, a benign fairy is resurrecting my garden and soon it will be a gift to all.

  5. Weasel, thanks for reading my poems. And right back at you, thanks for commenting. I appreciate it as well.

    Annie, thanks for your comments. "Life changes and gifts gain and lose value" - sounds like a line from a poem to me. I wish you luck with your garden.

  6. Mr. Walker, the message in your first poem is so very true. We are all given gifts, but have we used ours well? Or have we just used nature for our own (selfish?) purposes?

    I enjoyed your second poem too, and I was with you throughout it all...and you are so right on when you say that the key is not the answer by the question!

    (I came back to visit your blog a second time to read MORE after reading your wordle poem for Big Tent this week.) I like your style!

  7. Mary, thank you so much for coming back to read even more of my poems. That, in itself, is high praise - and I accept it gratefully. I'm truly enjoying writing poems and reading what others, like you, are writing. It makes me happy to be part of this poetry community online.

  8. Mr. Walker, it makes me happy too to be part of this poetry community online. It is a wonderful gift@