Philosophy and Nonsense
(Thoughts about writing, education, and experience.) Presented by Forrest D. Poston
The first goal of teaching is to strengthen, deepen and refine our intrinsic love of learning. All other goals and all methods must stem from that idea. Any that do not support that goal must at least be questioned and adjusted, if not eliminated. Otherwise, we are not teaching but training.
Think, I dare you.
may be dreams.
Tailless Trains and Other Echoes
Bones ache and tell of storms to come;
other aches speak of storms long past,
storms and aches of another kind, immune
to the medicine cabinet. But we are
familiar companions now, these aches,
and storms, and I. The coming storm rumbles
greetings, sends the wind with tales of power
and disaster. I smile and tell the storm of you.
To the Gray
Like childhood friends, words have moved
away. Games we played grow
into work as dragons, bears, and tigers
vanish into lairs, leaving emptiness,
a sinkhole swallowing imagination,
a black hole inhaling each idea, leaving
wonderless landscapes like the gray,
snowless winter, stripped of glistening,
barren even of the dream of Spring.
Faces and Phases
A younger man saw a younger moon,
more than wax and wane, a pale,
mute metaphor, grayscale
on black, watering dreams blooming
like a field of evening primrose,
but no metaphor stops time or toll.
Perhaps even metaphors age
and wane, bloom, brown and die,
or perhaps tonight I will find
one more primrose blooming
brightly beneath this moon, this
soft, silent, waning moon.
Even the moon burned red, so red,
surely the trees were aflame in the young
night, burning wild and fast, but no.
Only the moon burned, coloring
sky, hills, and dreams, not with fire
but borrowed light. Beautiful, bright
illusion, red rose the moon,
growing pale and cool with time.
The sky darkened, moon
fading to white and gray, horizon
of hills to black. With time, we
said goodbye to the burning
moon, fading sight lost
to the night, and each other.
The Midnight Piper
This rain fell before, on another night, the same
dark. The wet melody plays like a midnight piper,
and I follow again, this time to younger days,
to memories of dark asphalt rivers, glistening
beneath dim streetlights and flowing
into the darkness, the mystery, the hope in the
So many nights, that piper lead me, promising
something could be found, something, never what, never
where, always beyond sight, beyond
the curving, wet, dark veil. Each night ended
with nothing, nothing more
than unanswered questions and wet shoes.
This night, I let the piper play. Yet buried beneath
so many mundane days and nights,
the unsettled quest within resonates with the rain
and wonders. Age may bring wisdom, or merely weariness
and doubt. Warm, dry, I smile at youth and foolish dreams,
trying hard to be sure, say, "Safe", say, "Mature",
but the piper plays, and the music in the rain
makes me wonder if perhaps I always stopped the dance
just a step too soon.
Memory, Dream, Reach
I have thought about the moon, reached
for memories from when the moon was more
than real, a charm or totem, always changing,
yet utterly constant, dreams made
manifest and reason to dream. Some hint
of magic might still answer, some drop of that
wonder that makes children reach, dare
to fall. Surely there is no power
in the moon, no magic, but the memory
of a dream, might make the heart reach just
once more. We strive in the sun
but hope in the moonlight.
Drink the Moon
Tonight, I’ll drink the moon, bathe
in the stars, let the night soak deep,
soothe the burns and sorrows
gathered in the day, ease
away the sting of words,
worries, and weariness.
Tonight, I’ll drink the moon,
forget literature, love,
and loss. Dawn will demand
I rise, renew, risk my hope
and heart again, but
tonight, I’ll drink the moon.
The Moon Stayed
The moon stayed through that night, not
for me but with me all the same, satisfying,
if foolish, perhaps because foolishness can
cure some angst, or treat the symptoms.
The moon is no companion, but the spirit
doesn’t care, the need reaches, sees,
and claims. Sometimes, that must be
enough, enough to wait, enough to dare
sleep, to dare the dreams that wait,
and those that wait no longer.
No Intent (One Version)
Grant the moon no intent, yet
may it play upon the eye,
the heart, the mind; no dreamer but
inspiration for dreaming as words
inspire the mind to tell stories.
Grant the stars that move so slowly
no choice, their twinkling an illusion, yet
light and illusion flow to the mind,
and we yearn and reach out, but
the stars that fall, though not
stars at all, make us wish and
love, ache and fall.
Grant the moon no intent, though
cool and coy it may seem, slowly
dancing with the clouds, not
so distant as the stars, more
gentle than those that fall,
like soft words, melancholy
stories that let us dream
deeply, love slowly, ache
No Intent (Another Version)
Grant the moon no intent- this one
night perhaps I will dream
a different dream beneath her light,
dark but soft upon the skin,
a caress of night air,
a kiss of May fulfilling
April’s promise. This one night,
this one dream speaks of summer,
forgetting winter past, believing not
winter to come. This one night
beneath this silent moon,
I will dream a young man’s dream,
soft grass upon the hill, a caress,
and a kiss.
Kin to the Moon
Master of disguise, the moon changes
faces, full to a sliver, even pulls
a disappearing act. We laugh,
cry, sing, entertained nightly.
Yet the moon always presents
but one face for our pleasure,
showing it in changing ways,
while all behind the face
stays out of sight, hidden
by the play. Perhaps this
secret tells why we play
along, at least those kin
to the moon.
(These two poems were originally
published in "Block's Magazine",
This April air soothes, liquid
When the insomniac soul
(For those interested in the process of
(And for those young writers who think writing ends,
And dawn comes
The day wakes
Night, Death, and Other Dreams
A Call For a Father
Dawn coming soon, darkness yet holding
sway, when the phone rings.
“The doctor says you should come.”
Bags always packed, we leave
with practiced hurry.
Determined, stubborn, he wins again,
defies not merely death but doctors,
stymies tests, refutes statistics.
We have more time.
We have two years of defiance
we love, pre-dawn calls we hate,
knowledge we fear.
But another dawn has come,
a day sunny and safe, a day
for errands run slowly, knowing
when the phone rings, it will be
no worse than a bill collector.
Ginny met me at the door.
The call had come about 2PM.
There was no more need
We followed the familiar road, clear
and known, choosing turns
with speed and abandon,
young, certain, and immortal.
We slowed little as the road changed,
asphalt to gravel to dirt, still laughing
as day faded to night, as dirt
faded to grass. And the road ended,
rising into the unknown
into weeds and briars and a high
horizon that made no promise.
Young, uncertain, impatient,
we left the hill untouched,
Like the rusting car we passed
so often, we abandoned all
by the dead end road,
dream, daring, youth,
and parted, each
to our divergent way, each
into the arms of time, each
to our own harsh dark.
Beyond the Door
Night breathes beyond the door,
calling once more, waiting, knowing
I must come eventually, knowing mystery
and hope bring the hunger and the hunt.
And so, she breathes and laughs,
not so tender this night but tempting,
for the night is infinite, and where nothing
can be seen, all things become possible.
Sometimes hope rises not with the sun
but with the moon.
She laughs, and the hunt is on for secrets,
the secret of the grail, the door to Camelot,
the hidden end of a rainbow, the magic word,
the hope that this exhausted dawn breaks
not merely the night, not the spirit but the
hardened mind, lets in not merely light
In the unreal hours of the night, he
is about. Before dawn begins to whisper
and weave again the fabric, when
the merest threads hold the veil,
he is about, this ancient, gaunt, ghost
to be, draped in flannel, shuffling
in darkness without and within,
crying and croaking names no longer
within our call, except, perhaps,
in these unreal hours.
And I lay in bed, wrapping my youth
and covers about me, listening
to the past, the present, perhaps
the future, shuffle and call as
the shrunken giant roams, mind
departed, spirit trapped
in the tar pit of his body,
struggling for release.
We waited in the gray morning, knowing
that no sun would break these clouds.
We waited in the solarium, knowing
that no sun would burn this fog.
We waited as nurses went up and down
the hall, in and out of rooms, white against
the stubborn gray, the sound of footsteps
coming and going, seeming to never stop.
This coming had always been known, though slow,
slower than any would have guessed, always
coming, always known. The night
had brought the end of knowing
for him, the silence of the mind, waiting
only for the body to admit what was known.
The footsteps went up and down, up and down,
and stopped at the door. Waiting ended.
Memory, Realization, and Wonder
She does not wait
upon the Mossy hillside.
The long climbs finds naught
but her name among the stones,
a reminder, slanted, low and gray.
Long it has waited; long
it will wait, but she is not
there, though, perhaps
she waits still, somewhere
other than memories, few,
faded, and fluttering along
the mist-teased edge
of an aging mind.
She has not spoken, but
she waits still.
She has not spoken,
but perhaps she watches
still and still.
(Here are a few very early works, mid 1980s to about 1990.)
University Cemetery, Eugene, OR
Tumbled stones loose their names
Purple, pink, and ignorant, dawn
But what comes through
Night breathes beyond
We do not
So one of us hungers,
Acceptance (written long, long ago)
Maybe I could bleed a little, but
Burnt offerings are out of style,
lamb is expensive
that god I've read about.
Maybe if you like me
A Visit With the Romantics (also from much younger days)
I visit my world's
Untitled (from around 1981)
I gave myself a call
to see how I had been.
Imagine my surprise
to find there's no one in.
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Writing and Education
Four Meanings of Life
Godot and the Great Pumpkin
A Major is More Minor Than
The Poetry Process (A look at 4 versions of a poem.)
Thoughts About Picking a Major
Quick Points About Education
Quick Points About Writing
Reading Poetry and Cloud Watching
Using an Audience
What Makes a Story True?
What's the Subject of This Class? (Being revised.)
Writing and Einstein (The Difference Between Information and Meaning)
Writing and the Goldilocks Dilemma
Links to Other Sites
Other Essays and Poetry
Something Somewhat Vaguely Like a Resume
Alec Kirby, Memories of an Earnest Imp
Being Like Children
Beyond the Genes (Dad)
The Blessing and the Blues
Bookin' Down Brown Street
The Cat With a Bucket List
David and the Revelation
The Dawn, the Dark, and the Horse I Didn't Ride In On (an odd, meandering, semi-romantic story)
Getting a Clue
Ghost Dancer in the Twilight Zone
The Hair Connection and the Nature of Choices
I Believe in Capra
The Mug, the Magic, and the Mistake
Roto, Rooter and the Drainy Day
Sadie on the Bridge
Trumpet Player, USDA Approved
The Poetry Process
Links to Other Sites