Max Ross: Published Poet

Welcome to a possibly special edition of Poem Worth Reading. The very title of this Cracking Spines segment — that is, Poem Worth Reading — is jeopardized with today’s entry. But because this is a blog, and should thereby not be held to any qualitative standards (self-imposed or otherwise), and because I got the go-ahead from my editor, who said I could post "basically anything…," I’ve decided to go ahead and put up some of my own scribblings. I figure it’s Memorial Day, so maybe there’s less readership, anyway.

The back-story (feel free to skip): My grandparents own a cabin not far from the Twin Cities, and I was up there this weekend to celebrate the holiday, incidentally by myself (there was leftover pizza, there was beer, there was NBA basketball [if you know my family, you know they don’t know what a tent is, let alone a cabin…yes there’s cable here, but I don’t have it in my regular home, and that’s how I justify watching it]).

On Sunday, at about five o’clock in the evening, my aunt called, waking me up from my nap. Naturally I was pissed. She said thunderstorms were headed my way. Though normally rain has a soporific effect on me, the ringer of the cabin phone is kind of like a dog whistle for humans, and I couldn’t get back to sleep. So I said, “Screw it” — sadly, I said it out loud — and went out onto the screened-in porch to watch the gathering storm.

I may appreciate a poem from time to time, but I don’t write ‘em. Nevertheless, immersed as deeply in the woods as a member of my family can hope to get (there’s no Wi-Fi here, at least, and my cell phone is on ‘roam’), watching the boats on the lake return in unison to their docks, then watching the rain fall from a strangely low sky, I realized there was a pen in front of me, and a blank piece of paper.

"Haikus," I thought (thankfully silently). I don’t mean to take anything away from the Japanese poets that have mastered brevity, nor imply that my haikus are as meaningful or worthwhile as theirs (sadly, a couple of mine tend toward Yoda-esque syntax and conjugation). But let’s face it: As far as poetry goes, the haiku is a fairly accessible form — concise, quick-striking, sometimes poignant. They’re kind of like puns (except sometimes poignant). So really, though Freud may say otherwise, the ultimate goal of this post isn’t necessarily to get more exposure for my writing and launch a new career. Rather, I hope it’s a sort of call-to-arms for all the would-be poets out there, too intimidated by meter and rhyme to grab their journals and head for their various solitudes.

And I invite all you fearless readers (I really do love puns) to post your own haikus in the ‘comments’ section. (Though please refrain from the likes of "Max Ross: Egomaniac/ where’s Whitman? Or Eliot?/They’re better than you" and so on. Unless you have one that’s really, really good.)

Also, for those interested, I found the header illustration here.

So here goes:

Fat green leaves beaten
by rain. I’d have picked them from
their twigs, anyway

At least the pontoon
has a canopy. Thank God
our boat won’t get wet.

In grade school I learned
to make rain sounds with clapped hands;
microwaved popcorn.

Glass door is open,
screen door is shut; sound of rain –
but no rain – enters.

Something literary
about rain: its ambition
to rise back up

Polaroid lightning
to remember later how
hard it really rained.

I stand here wearing
my grandfather’s sweatpants, and
write about the storm.