Poetry

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 POEM LIST

I wrote my first poem at the age of about six. It was published, with minor editorial changes, in the children’s magazine Wee Wisdom. Except for one other juvenile effort that I can’t remember if I ever finished and a poem inspired by a biology test, I wrote no more poetry for more than thirty years. I don’t know why I broke that streak, but I have been writing poems ever since—not frequently, but regularly.

Shakespeare bustI don’t know whether I deserve to call myself a poet, and I’m sure that most of my school or professional friends would be surprised at my writing poetry at all. Even I am surprised. I’m neither an avid reader of poetry nor a great lover of it generally.

I am fond of a number of poems, mostly ones that I’ve run into by accident or have been forced to read in school—“Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Tyger” by William Blake, “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso” by John Milton, “John Brown’s Body” by Stephen Vincent Benét, “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll, various hymn texts, and just about anything by Ogden Nash. Ogden Nash is probably the only poet I’ve read systematically. I wish I had whatever Nash did that allowed him to turn out the kind of amusing and surprising poems that were his hallmark!

My poetry is as diverse as my taste. Some poems are funny, but others are quite serious. They deal with myriad subjects. Many of my poems are, if not autobiographical, at least inspired by my experience. These include “Frustration,” “Basketball,” “The Conversation,” and “Voyage of the Heart.”  Many other poems are inspired by current events (“11 September 2001,” “Airplanes II,” “Pennsylvania Primary,” and “Second Inauguration”). More than a few poems have grown out of my work in The Episcopal Church (“Christian Unity,” “Authorities,” and “Waiting for the Lambeth Commission Report”). A handful of poems are written from a woman’s point of view ( “Be,” “Pick Me,” and “Where Were You?”).
 

Probably because of my mathematical background, I like to play with structure. This explains the haiku (“Haiku Meditations on the Church Year,” “More Haiku,” “Columbia Homecoming”) and rhyme-scheme experiments like “Sunday Afternoon” and “Thanksgiving.” Some of my poems dispense with rhyme and regular meter. Although I don’t always feel comfortable writing such poetry—is it really poetry?—I do like poems such as my “Apple Tree” and “It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”

Despite the diversity, however, my poetry remains largely concrete and rational—it is inspired by my experience, observation, and reflection, rather than by my emotional state or by free association. This is not to say that my poetry is devoid of emotional content, but it tends to avoid the solipsistic, self-indulgent, and obscure. I seek, if not universality, at least relevance to others. On the other hand, if you’re looking for inspired imagery, I may not be the poet you want to be reading.

Because I really want people to understand my poems, each poem represented here is accompanied by an explanation. My annotations explain how the poem came to be, problems I had writing it, and what some of the less obvious references are. (My annotations are actually there to remind me of the poem’s provenance as much as anything.) I leave it to others to decide if I’m obsessive with explaining myself. (See “A Critique of Modern Poetry” for further discussion on my attitude toward poetry.)

As with children, it’s hard to pick favorite poems. I am especially pleased with “Musashi’s Odyssey” and “The Quecreek Mine Disaster,” each of which tells a real-life story. I very much like “It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” which achieves what is, for me, rare intensity. More modest efforts with which I am especially pleased include “Reciprocity,” “2001,” and “Labor Day Lament.”

It has been fun writing poetry about items in the news and events in The Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. Some of my favorites are “Airplanes II,” “Waiting for the Lambeth Commission Report,” “Accokeek,” and “Second Inauguration.” I have also enjoyed writing what some might classify as devotional poetry. This group includes “Haiku Meditations on the Church Year” and “That They All May Be One.”

I have also written a number of hymns, and, for some of them, I have written original music as well. (My hymns are cross-listed in the Church Resources section but are actually included under Poetry.) My hymn list now includes “O Lord the Invisible,” “Authorities,” “Heavens and Earth, All of Creation,” and “Holy Eucharist.” I am especially pleased with “Authorities” and “Holy Eucharist,” which fill particular niches in Episcopal Church liturgical resources. Please write to me if you would like to use any of these hymns.

I have also written a few of songs. I have not worked out music very well for “Where Were You?” but “Out of Many, One,” which was written for a contest to find a new national anthem, consists of words and music with which I am reasonably satisfied. “Realign with Me” is a parody about church politics.

I have avoided classifying my poems here, partly because so many incompatible organizations are possible. I apologize if this seems unhelpful and forces you to read poems with little warning of what you might find. I hope you have some pleasant surprises. Find your own favorites and let me know what they are and why.

I have also included an untitled poem by my son August. He is not a frequent writer of poetry, but he does a great job performing this particular work. We have shared many useful conversations about the craft of writing poetry.

— LED, 11/22/2013

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Entries below are listed oldest first.  Go to bottom

Phan Thi Kim Phúc at the Vietnam Memorial, Veterans Day, 1996

Haiku Meditations on the Church Year

Where Are You When I Need You, James R. Newman?

Small TalkYellow rose

On Jackie’s Death

Girl Watching

More Haiku

First Class

Diversity

Two Cats

O Lord the Invisible (hymn)

Cities

Frustration

Sunday Afternoon

Basketball

Accokeek

Untitled poem by G. A. Deimel

Musashi’s Odyssey

11 September 2001

Falling from the Sky

Camper E-mail

Apple Tree

Poems of the Open Road

Airplanes IIFlowers in flowerpot

Parents’ Weekend

Buffalo

Trees

2001

Snack

Do Astrologers Have More Fun?

Light Rail

May All Your Reinforcements Be Spiral Ones

Where Were You? (song)

Resurrection

Be

Repression

I Don’t Miss You Anymore

The Quecreek Mine Disaster

Summer Pleasures  

Christian Unity

Thanksgiving

Toilet Paper

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (not a song)

Ordination

Columbia Homecoming

Meta-haiku

Frank

A Critique of Modern Poetry

Wittenberg Graduation

9/11 Memorial

IdentityWildflowers

Fall Leaves in a Creek

Autumn Reverie

Playmates

Martha's Ordination

Authorities (hymn)

Maidenhood

Glorious Companions Plus One

Waiting for the Lambeth Commission Report

Eve

Finding a Use for a Rough Stone Wall

Traveling North on the 42S

Thoughts on the Katrina Flood by One Who Grew Up in New Orleans But Never Lived There as an Adult

Peter

Winter Preparations

Voyage of the Heart

The Conversation

Canon Mary Changes Her Mind

Mercury

Winter Avenue

Bovine Sue

Pick Me!

The Wood

Farewell, Nano; Hello, LouFloral design

How Can I Miss You?

Schism

Pennsylvania Primary

The Amazing Cat

Monitor Cat

Realign with Me (song)

Milky Moon

Love Letters

Hail Barack Obama

Oatmeal

National Poetry Month 2009

Christopher Becomes a Deacon

I Was a Proud Southern Christian

Poem for Mary

Out of Many, One (proposed national anthem)

Pier

In the Hospital

Out of the Frying Pan

That They All May Be One

Sara’s Birthday

Labor Day Lament, 2011

ReciprocityArray of flowers

A Twitter Poem

Three Silly Poems

Friendship

“Hawk!” the Herald Angles Sing

For Gwen

Second Inauguration

Calvary Wonderland

Papal Retirement

Heavens and Earth, All of Creation (hymn)

Turbine

Holy Eucharist (hymn)

Back Together (song)

Metro-North Accident, Valhalla, New York, February 3, 2015

Political Limericks for 2016

Trump Haiku

Go to top

 
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