Saturday, March 30, 2024

Early Spring Trilogy

poetry logo“Desperation”

[Conversations with poets, cont. …

William Stafford, “Earth Dweller”]

The snow has gone, early

but gone.

the dirt, tufts of grass, the deer

coming out the woods to

crop them. But where are the birds?

No robins yet, not even the caw of

crows. In their absence

I know not where I am.

I miss them and am desperate

for their arrival.


“Down & Dirty”

[Conversations with poets, cont. …

John Moffitt, “To Look At Anything”]

Yes, take your time when

you enter the woods. Stop

open all your senses — smell


inflate your chest

suck in all the air it

can hold exhale


Let your tongue

protrude its full length

swallow and taste whatever

has coated it and your 

throat. Dig your hands and 

fingers into the dirt you find

yourself standing on, smear it

on your face, feel its texture, 

let it cool your brow however

fevered it might be.

Search for an open space

with luck a treeless meadow

sprawl facedown roll on your back

spread your arms and legs, allow

your body to sink into the grass

and become lost within.

Do this at your first opportunity —

before the woods that live near

us and the greenery that colors it

have desiccated and become dust,

a phenomenon fast approaching.


“My Way”

[Conversations with poets … cont.:

Wendell Berry’s “A Purification”]

No outhouses here in the

Adirondacks save for those 

sitting on hunting camps stashed

in our piney woods.

My detritus is comprised of

fallen branches and half-rotted

leaves that the March winds have yet

to blow away…. collected in bundles

or stuffed in black construction

bags and dumped in the rear section

of our, prosaically enough, town dump where

it devolves into mulch

a practical methodology still

shunned by our older folks who burn

their year’s leftovers, controlled, confined

to an open area to contain the leaping

flames and quick-spreading smoke…

a rite of spring that fills your nostrils,

tears your eyes, reminds you 

of life’s tautology, its recurrence.

I forego that invigorating practice, unsure

of my skills, fearful I’ll burn our forest

to the ground. As the old folks say, 

and I happen to be one of them, 

better safe than sorry or

in deference to Murphy

anything that can go wrong


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Jack Carney is a clinical social worker who retired after fifty years of practice, nearly forty of which spent working in the public mental health system. He received his MSW from UCLA in 1969 and his DSW from CUNY in 1991. He is also a trained family therapist, trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and has devoted a good part of his professional life to teaching and training mental health professionals, to developing and implementing innovative treatment approaches and programs, and to conducting clinical practice research. He retired in 2010 from a large New York social welfare agency. He now lives with his wife and their two cats in the Adirondacks of northern NY State, where he spends much of his time writing provocative tracts and working as a community and healthcare advocate, heavily involved in the Campaign for NY Health and the enactment of single payer healthcare on a statewide – the NY Health Act – and national – Medicare for All – basis. He is the author of a book of essays – Nation of Killers: Guns, Violence, White Supremacy – The American Dream Become Delusion, published in 2015 and available via Amazon. He has also published over 40 blog posts on Mad In America and Op-Ed News, all concerned with the political deterioration of the American state and its institutions and the measures that ordinary Americans can take to oppose an oppressive corporatist ruling class that is squeezing the life and vibrancy out of us. A nearly complete listing of all his writings – a work in progress – can be found on his website, www.paddling


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