Variation on a Theme

two trees s

I spend myself with what if.  I pray to spirits I don’t believe in about things I don’t really know if I want.

What do I want? A light-filled room?  Applause?  Kind words, a gentle touch?

And you? Not even the imprint of your body remains in the furniture.  But you haunt me with your past, the one that spills over into my present and keeps me tangled in lost hours, restless days, sleepless nights.

It’s easy to keep repeating variations on the same inner monologue, difficult to quiet it and focus on something that is beyond the boundaries of myself.

And so I talk to the trees, like Chet Baker did. Do they listen?  They give me mornings of birdsong, flowering into green and then transforming into autumn harvests of red and gold.  Their branches, when naked, dance against clear blue skies.

I talk to the stars—
they pull me out, glimmering–
circles of the moon.

Is that listening?

It’s close enough.

summer tree close up s

The prompt for NaPoWriMo today asks us to write something inspired by another form of art.  For NaPoWriMo last year, all the art I used for the month of April was inspired by the painter Joan Mitchell.  And I have not stopped using her art as inspiration–lately I’ve been obsessed with her tree paintings.  Both paintings, above, were inspired by them.

autumn tree close up s

And so I thought to compose a poem about trees.  The reference today to Frank O’Hara, who was a friend of Joan Mitchell,  got me looking at his poems to see if there were any that talked about trees.  There were, and I modeled the beginning of my haibun on his “Meditations on an Emergency”.

But I also was thinking of Lerner and Loewe’s song “I Talk to the Trees”.  I like Chet Baker’s version, here with Bill Evans and Coleman Hawkins.

I talk to the trees
But they don’t listen to me
I talk to the stars
But they never hear me

You can see some of Joan Mitchell’s tree paintings here.


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About memadtwo

For more madness, follow me on Instagram @h_zimel methodtwomadness is a blog of two friends, Nina and Kerfe kblog is Kerfe's solo branch on the tree

29 responses to “Variation on a Theme”

  1. robert okaji says :

    That version of “I Talk to the Trees” is perfect! It fits your piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Suzanne says :

    So powerful and heartfelt. Words seem inadequate a response. Maybe I should just say I talk to trees too

    Liked by 1 person

  3. D. Wallace Peach says :

    Beautiful paintings and poetry, Kerfe. I browsed Mitchell’s trees while listening to some mellow jazz. Nice! Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  4. merrildsmith says :

    A beautiful post. Joni and trees–stars and moons.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jazzytower says :

    I really like, especially the first part. Nice work.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. rivrvlogr says :

    That opening line, “I spend myself with what if.” is so powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ennle Madresan says :


    Liked by 1 person

  8. msjadeli says :

    Such an honest and intimate poem. It makes sense to talk to the trees. They have seen so much in their lifetimes, and they are very good listeners. I love your art also.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. charlotteash says :

    “difficult to quiet it and focus on something that is beyond the boundaries of myself.”

    But you’ve made it look effortless here. Love this.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. deuxiemepeau says :

    Such a meditative silence between each word, each phrase and then the strength of the colours which is stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sharon Mann says :

    I talk to my trees and the chorus of birds who reside in them. Your art thrills my soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. rothpoetry says :

    Great post! Love the lament in your words. The art work is wonderful! And your poem lines fit in so well!

    Liked by 1 person

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