My poems are “accessible.”

A while back, I compiled some of my poetry and had Community Printers in Santa Cruz print up two hundred copies, which I distributed to family and friends. I did three readings and maybe sold a half dozen books. All in all, a great experience. I have continued to write poems, but not at a great pace since most of my literary time has been spent on my novel. I recall writing and gifting one particular poem to a friend on her birthday. She made the comment that my poems are “accessible.”

I wasn’t sure whether to take that as a compliment or a criticism, so I just smiled and thanked her.

I don’t read a whole lot of poetry, perhaps because many times I struggle with the meaning of a poem. All poetry is personal in nature and what the author is trying to say can be open to all sorts of conjecture. So, I never really understood T. S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland” or some of Anne Sexton’s works. I tend to like simpler verse with a lot of imagery. I also like the straightforwardness of a Robert Frost or Walt Whitman.

So, of course, the poems I write gravitate toward accessibility. At least I think and hope so. And it makes writing them all the easier! It’s fun when you compact some words together and come up with a concise poem that might make the reader smile with some mutual understanding, at the same time allowing that person to form their own images in their mind’s eye.

My editor has read my poetry and suggested I put together a book so I can offer it to more readers. So, for the past couple of months, I’ve been making some changes to some of the original poems, as well as adding some and subtracting some. Speaking from the experience of most writers, I’ve found there are some poems I absolutely love and others I like and appreciate that might not make the A-plus grade.

The following poem recalls my memory as an eight-year-old boy living in the rich bottomland of the Santa Clara Valley on the family ranch where my father grew prunes and walnuts. Jon Ponder was a local man who drove a tractor for many of the orchard owners in the valley.

Jon Ponder drove tractor.
I’d see his name in the checkbook
Lying by the telephone.
He was spoken of reverently.
Never Jon or simply Ponder,
Always Jon Ponder.
Jon Ponder cultivated the ground,
Pulled his harrow discs through the orchards
Every day for thirty days.
When the dust tail settled,
The birds would come,
Dining in the upwelling of dirt.
Jon Ponder loved his work,
Loved the D-4 Cat and trailer,
The turning of the crank,
The pop of the cylinders,
The pulling of levers,
The deep massage of tracks,
Churning in the earth’s skin.
Jon Ponder cashed his checks,
Fed his tractor,
Lived his life in a bucket seat,
Just about limb high.
The syllabled sound of his toils
Echoing among the trees:
Jon Ponder Jon Ponder Jon Ponder.

Sketch for Jon Ponder by Edward C. Larson.
“Jon Ponder” copyright 2023 by Buzz Anderson.

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