What Is Poetry?

When things add up and you notice
A bit of beauty, irony, meaning emerge
That’s poetry
When a sequence or juxtaposition occurs
And something leaps off the page of life
And things dance that usually just stand
That’s poetry
Like this morning when I stood naked
Holding my underwear before me
Attempting to thread a foot through
I had to heel-toe-heel-toe over not to fall
And then, to complete the pattern
I did it again on the other foot
To make my imbalance into a dance
And I smiled. Poetry is usually personal
And private
Doing a little naked dance to catch yourself
From falling and having a little fun too
That’s poetry

The Rainbow Show

Taos rainbow

When a rainbow appeared
touching down across the brushy hills
at the foot of the mountain facing
we stopped cleaning up after dinner
pulled our chairs together on the porch
and sat for the rainbow show
as the misty air blew through
and the low light lit the yellow hills
with long shadows like warm morning light.
The rainbow faded as the magpies gathered
just over the hill, no longer bright
as everything began to slip into its dusky attire
shadows vanished and where the rainbow was
no rainbow, the prismatic air invisible again
and through it all a nearby cricket played its violin legs
steadily with only brief pauses till the concert ended
leaving only a chatter of chirping
and the creaking of the kettle beginning to boil.
The magic hour over
dogs barked across the hills
and silence rose where the wind was.

Taos, NM
July 18, 2017

I Am From

A friend from high-school posted a poem by her 9-yr-old daughter Vivian on Facebook last week. I printed it and brought it home to read to the family and nearly teared-up each time I read it, I thought it was so beautifully done. What a wonderful portrait of childhood. Very Whitmanian, if you ask me.

I Am From
By Vivian Stang

I am from the dog that barks at night
and the cats that roam around my street.

I am from Cape Cod and the warm blue sea.
I am from hamburgers and their wonderful, juicy taste.

I am from the Sarabinh and
Charlie branch and their love for me.
I am from my grandma’s brownies and sponge cake.

I am from my sister’s tight hug
and warm happy smile.
I am from my cat meowing when she wants food.

I am from soccer, kicking the ball through the field
and passing it to my teammates.

I am from running with my friends in the park
and sitting while our ice cream
drips onto the ground.

I am from my cozy bed
and playing with my sister on Saturday mornings.
I am from my mom reading stories to me in bed.

I am from sitting on the couch and quietly reading.
I am from chatting at the dinner table with
my family.

I am from joking around with my with my friends
and getting out of bed to give my parents
hugs every morning.

I am from gulping down my mom’s chocolate cake
and cleaning my room, while listening to music.

I am from riding on the back of a horse,
feeling the wind brush against my face.
I am from making sandcastles at the beach.

I am from laughing with my friends
and reading to my little sister.
I am from playing UNO with my grandparents and
listening to my grandma play piano.

I am from biking with my mom,
while watching the endless bike trail.

I am from the things that make me, me.

Here’s my first attempt at my I Am From poem:

I Am From
by Jason Molin

I am from my first little record player, singing along, “We sail the ocean blue and our saucy ship’s a beauty!”

I am from the alley behind the house, kickball, or a soccer ball against the wall, or setting up ramps and riding off them over and over again, jumping trashcans with Matt.

I am from walking to school, skateboarding, bussing or riding my bike back and forth along Connecticut Ave. or Reno Rd. I am from forgetting my books and having to go back to school. I am from getting a ride home with Mark or Saul or Mrs. Brady.

I am from crazy beautiful flawed teachers, Mr. Emerson, Stick Sturtevant, Mr. King, my ceramics teacher, what was his name? What would I be without their passion and patience? I am from Manfred and Gurland, my philosophical fathers.

I am from my mother’s beautiful house, the oriental rugs, the walls full of art and shelves full of books. I am from Al’s meals, dinners in the kitchen, with guests in the dining room around a turkey, well-spiced sautéed vegetables, an interesting soup, pecan pies, occasionally meringues. I am from long conversations afterward, talking around the fire until we’re tired.

I am from singing at church, from the trumpet what was my father’s, from high-school musicals, from the acoustic guitar I used to sing my soul over and over and never stopped. I am from jamming and singing whenever and wherever and those who join in.

I am from The Song of Myself and The War of Art, I am from If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out and Love Rescue Me. I am from Across the Universe and One Love.

I am from Maile’s animals, her loving name for everything. I am from Anais’s art, each dance, song, drawing, story, and scene.

I am from walking or biking the streets of DC, NY, Dublin, and Austin, lost in thought, noticing reflections, singing to myself, snapping pics or jotting down ideas, rethinking the strategy, making resolutions, noticing signs and designs, catching people’s eyes.

I am from the rhythm of words, birdsong, dancing and hugging and kissing in the sun. I am from staying up late, disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind. I am Sylvester as the stone, waking early and meditating on a world with and beyond me.

Vera Smiles

Vera and AnaisMaile knows a wonderful Russian woman named Vera who studied drama and taught it to kids. So when we were looking for someone to speak Russian for a kid’s album I’m working on, Vera immediately came to mind. Tonight she came over, preformed and translated this poem.



От улыбки хмурый день светлей!
От улыбки в небе радуга проснется.
Поделись улыбкою своей
И она к тебе не раз еще вернется!

И тогда наверняка вдруг запляшут облака,
И кузнечик запиликает на скрипке!
С голубого ручейка начинается река,
Ну а дружба начинается с улыбки!


With a smile a cloudy day brightens!
With a smile the world is colored like a rainbow.
Share your smile with a friend
And your smile will return to yo!

And suddenly clouds will be dancing
And the cricket will play the violin!
With a blue stream the river begins,
So friendship starts with a smile!

Vera and Anais

Two Poems Before Sleep

Written in Maine, late, before bed…

A few minutes left, that is all
And night descends like a curtain call
The mind runs through its lines, then night
And enter demons for the fight
But not a moral play plays out
Only the self to freely doubt
And then to wake again to live
As though there were and order given
Past a hundred thousand lines
All delivered, “I am fine”
Till our illusions become real
And as uneasy as we feel

Here I kneel, not out of homage
but to straighten my crained spine
as the harbor howls, filling with fog
and the book of prophets lays open
before me on the table beside my bottle.
My ghost in the glass accompanies me,
“Not fame or fortune did I seek,
but first knowing, finally arriving.”