What Was Once

“His mind’s all black thickets and blood”   from Songs of Unreason


The oak was ancient                            And he stood there nearby, his mind

once sturdy, but now                          all black thickets and blood

sapped of strength                               clogged

bent by the elements                            frail

but still remembering spring              he smiled for what once was











This is a cleave poem for Day 23 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, inspired by the work of Jim Harrison.




36 thoughts on “What Was Once

  1. the analogy works so well not least because of the sap/blood equation- have never tried a cleave poem – harder than it looks!

      • did he suggest a cure? p.s. the older I get, the more I love trees, especially all those older than me!!

      • My favorite old oak seems ok. He said one of the red oaks cannot really be treated at this point, but they can fertilize and keep it going for awhile (maybe another 10 years). Another oak if it seems to have whatever the problem is can be injected with something (like a tree shot), which can treat the disease. We have two maples by the curb that are will probably have to come down at some point.

  2. I love this – it’s trees, it’s aging, it’s the on-going joy of spring now and spring remembered. The form works really well here, each stands alone, but the combination is perfectly smooth.

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