Thursday Sep 28

Dan Stryk lives among the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia, in Bristol. He has published a number of collections of poems and prose parables, including The Artist andthe Crow (Purdue UP) and Solace of the Aging Mare (The Mid-America Press). Dimming Radiance—a fusion of Far Eastern and Western concepts and writing formswas released by Wind Publications in fall, 2008. His work appears in Poetry, Ploughshares, Antioch Review, Shenandoah, Atlanta Review, New England Review, The Oxford American (2008 “Best of the South” issue), TriQuarterly, Harvard Review, Poetry Northwest, North American Review, Ontario Review, Western Humanities Review, Southern Humanities Review, Commonweal, Chelsea (a 7-poem portfolio in its current, and final, issue), Antigonish Review (Canada), The London Magazine (UK), Poetry Salzburg Review (Austria), Tricycle: The Buddhist Review (NY), Ecotone, and Isotope—and has been represented in anthologies such as A Year in Poetry (Crown Publishers, NY) and Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets of Virginia (U of Virginia P). He has held an NEA Poetry Fellowship and an Illinois Arts Council Individual Artist Grant (in poetry), among other writing awards.  

                                 The All-day Rains

       (Or peace in the truth there’s little change,
in obeisance to Old Whiskers …)
                                Years since our journey South
                                      from Illinois, eager to                                               
                                        begin “new lives” …
There are times we’re
          roused to fill our days
          with changing what’s
          gone stale.
Yet in still another humid
      span of rain sogged Appalachian
               to stay awake above this
               weathered book
               of poems*
     dusted off this sodden
     noon —
               to kindle heartwarmed flashes
               of a long-abandoned
               past —
     would be enough.                   
I watch my wife’s small garden
swamp, once more, below fogged
      glass … her longtime
      passion vanishing, again,
             to red-clay
 But why do all these poems
            which still rouse those rustling
            grainfields on the edges
            of quaint towns —                        
   transformed, in fits of prairie wind,
        to the swish of giant pintos’ mains
            in recollected myths
             from Iriquois song — 
  invoking those, & other spirits,
   from rich glacial lore
   & deep-black loam,
                                  like murmurs
                   from long-distant friends
                   or songs of my own making
                   hidden years
              in my true heart, 
 no longer liven me?   
(What’s more, there’s certainly no wanting,
        here, of that soulful chug — that stirred
 my youth like a beating heart —
                    of freight trains thudding
   East and West, the deep maroon
   of evening barns that fade like glowing
   embers into gentle streaks of dusk, the firm oases
                   of small towns
   that poke their clapboard vertebrae
        from Saharas of soy
   & corn …)
       I mean I’d like to dream
    more fully on this rainswept afternoon,
delve — with deeper feeling — into
       remnants of my past.
       Never mind — I start to drowse
again. Perhaps I’m most inspired, in this
soupy spell of days, by our thoughtless
ring-tailed housecat,
                        émigré from Illinois,
      curled in blameless slumber
                                                      by the door?
*Heartland II: Poets of the Midwest (Ed. Lucien Stryk, NIU Press, 1975)