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Bryan Wilbur
Poet

 


Frederick Douglass
spoke as cheering thousands sang
under this same sky

I've been writing for 30 years. Every craft takes awhile to perfect. Haiku is no different. I've tried to learn the craft. The poem itself is not important. Learning the craft is what is important -- and I know how to write.

Me and Shirley write four or five good ones a year. By myself, I would write one. We probably write one hundred versions of those four or five. By myself I needed a hundred to come up with one.

So you can see how much more efficient I've become.

Bluebirds strafe two cats
as they stroll down Midland Ave.
A bulldog watches.

This is the first collaboration between my wife, Shirley and myself to be published.

One nice summer day we sat in our backyard and passed poems back and forth as much as twenty or thirty times.

Each time it got better. We ended up with four keepers; this is one of them. It was a magical time which weíve never been able to repeat since. For one day we gave up our egos, and became haiku writing machines.

Friday night a vein
throbs sensuously, pulsing
with muscular jazz.

Iím not much for bars. Iím 49 years old, married, and I donít drink. So thereís not much use to it. But I love music, all kinds of music. My wife and I, weíve gone to the symphony. And now Iím starting to listen to rap, trying to understand it.

So I know thereís good music out there. Syracuse has done a real good job with the blues and the jazz fest. And thereís been a lot of times Iíve been downtown, and you hear the bars playing good music. I donít go in them. But I walk by them, and you can hear itóitís good music. I say to myself, ďJeese, this place sounds great.Ē


Syracuse's crows
laugh as a fairy ringed moon
paints the frozen peace

A fairy-ringed moonóthatís an old farmerís saying. Once in a while, the moon, when itís full, will have a ring around it. It means thereís a storm coming.

Animals, I feel, can sense these things. And when I wrote this poem, in winter, I would have dozens of crows in the trees behind my house. I would come home at night. If I slammed the car door, it must have resembled a gun shot, because theyíd all come out of the top of the trees. And something about crows, they always seem to be ridiculing us.

So what Iím saying is, This is winter, itís cold and everything is frozen. We got frozen peace. Tomorrow is supposed to be a blizzard. So the crows are making fun of us. Theyíre laughing: ďEnjoy it while you can.Ē


Emptiness echoes
around monuments. A man
remembers shadows.


This poem occurred to me in summertime. But itís also a vision of numerous experiences. I stand at Clinton Square now and feel the same thing. Itís a spiritual presence.

Iím amazed to hear about Frederick Douglass coming to Syracuse to speak about the abolition of slavery. Five thousand people came to hear him. Five thousand! There couldnít have been much more than that in the whole county. Not in the 1840s.

I just try to write what I feel.
Shadows.

 

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