Monday, November 30, 2009

Feature: Michael Henson Day 2

The Window at Quaker Meeting

I sit in the quiet
to wait for the Inner Light
and I see
out the window
a man who lopes across the lawn
in a diagonal
from the parking lot toward Naegle Road.
He is the picture in our picture window
(and I see
mine is not the only head to turn).
He wears loose blue jeans
and a black hooded sweatshirt
and he bears a red and white
bag of chips in his hand
and he looks a little
shabby and
I am looking for an inner light
and what I see is
this Outer Distraction
and since I am ever so
easily distracted
I follow him with my eye and I ask,
Could he be the Messenger
I was meant to meet today?
This transitional man, this
in-and-out prepositional man
short-cutting through
the frame of our vision,
across our lawn,
and into a life
which is his entirely
and is no metaphor
or business of mine.
In a moment he is gone
I ponder him
for the rest of an hour
and see
he has taught me
nothing that I need to know.
And the nothing that I need to know.

© Michael Henson

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Q: How do you define poetry in general?

A: To me, a true poem has a mission: to move the soul, either the soul of the poet or the soul of the reader, from a consideration of the mundane, narrow, and trivial toward the center of truth and solemnity. A true poem speaks of something that is really unspeakable, a truth which cannot be captured in words, not even the words of the poem, which are the doors to that truth. All the arts do the same thing in their way. The way of the poem is through precise and resonant language. By resonant language, I mean language energized by the elements of rhythm, image, metaphor, and story. So a poem, a true poem, is a thing crafted to move the soul by the means of precise and resonant language. There are a lot of things out there calling themselves poems, but they aren’t all poems.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that not many people know about you. :-)

A: I just passed first kyu in Aikido, which is a Japanese martial art organized around the principle of protecting yourself while doing no harm to your attacker. First kyu is the next level before a black belt, so I’m bragging a little. And I love to play the guitar. My secret dream is to become the lead singer in a Bluegrass band.

Q: What are your goals as a writer/poet?

My first goal is to write a true poem, one that tells the truth of a poem and is built of precise and resonant language. I also sometimes have a goal of saying something, though what I say often gets changed in the writing of the poem. If having something to say becomes more important than making a true poem, then I need to say it in some other form. I have nothing against political poems or poems of social concern. In fact, I honor them. I do have something against writing that pretends to be a poem but does not honor the craft and mission of the poem, which is to move the soul.


  1. Love the poem and love your definition of poetry Michael... thank you.