Poem: An Intimate Knowledge

Posted by in Poetry, Ten Minutes, Writing

Although I know its not necessary
to know the name of each bird,
Their distinct calls:
Chirp, shrill, twitter, caw, whoop, tweet, whistle, wail

Or the name of the soft green grass beneath me
Or the genus of these familiar jagged-leaved weeds
Evergreen needles, long purple blooms
The gray versus the brownish-gray squirrel
These flat stacking stones
The strange blood red bugs with frightening shells

Although I know it is not necessary
to know every detail
I mourn it still:

my ignorance.

And wish I knew more for the sake of reflection
More of the difference between cement and concrete
More about iron and brass and steel
And the exact difference in degrees from sun to shade
And how vast it is upon the waiting body.

I wish I knew more to say with greater scientific accuracy
How beautiful, or still, or moist, or loud, or certain nature is.
How much more powerfully it can be received if we know, with precision,
the how and why or what and when.

But there is something contrived in a poem that seeks to teach
And something sentient in one that only reflects
with whatever limited knowledge and whatever searching senses
it is driven from, within.

So it is simply that a field
of tiny palm-sized birds
pick in the grass beside me
Keeping a safe distance
Always aware.

And they rise at once
As a single fluttering body
And alight in a low tree
Wary of a danger
I do not know is there.

Or the pair of young squirrels
their little claws scratching
against the tree trunk,
as they frolic in their play.

Or the dance of bugs above me
Swirling all about me
Green or black or pale white wings,
lazy in a sun-lit sway.

It is each single blade of grass
shuttering in the breeze
Shading the soft, moist soil beneath

It is the whisp of spider webs
Shining in the autumn sun
Caressing my bare, white feet

It is all of this:
Just as you might imagine it,
Sweet and full of intent.

It is all of this
And I cannot say more
of its sweetness

than your own listening heart
might have said.


This post is a part of the #tenminutes series, a challenge to write for ten minutes, every day, no matter what. To learn more visit: Ten Minute Challenge and join the movement!


“Zeroing In” – Write a poem in which you focus on a space or object, but gradually zero in on a single element of that space or object in each succeeding stanza, until you’ve reached the smallest most minute detail possible.

Example: You may begin focusing upon a scene outside your window, perhaps your backyard, filled with plant life, old toys, etc. In each stanza you’ll put greater focus on a single object in that scene, reaching finer and finer detail as you move along. So it may begin with your yard, then the next stanza you note the toys, then the toy trucks in particular, then one toy truck, then the wheels and parts on the truck, then a single wheel of the truck, then the tread of the wheel, then a single protruding tread and so on… until you’ve reached the greatest and most minute detail possible. This is an exercise in detail. Doing this often can improve your poetic vision and help you move away from abstract ideas to more concrete ones. Ready? Set. Write forth! #tenminutes