Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

Frost, ambiguity, & grading ~

I like Robert Frost. He’s not in vogue w/ much of the ‘Academy,’ those members of the ruling university class who decide which books/ writers/ thinkers/ ideas are in or out these days. Right now, Frost isn’t ‘in.’

I think it’s because he’s misunderstood. And popular — the Academy doesn’t care much for popularity. But most people who like Frost haven’t read much of his work. They know 2, possibly 3 poems: Stopping by Woods, The Road Not Taken, and maybe Fire and Ice. I have the dubious distinction of having read all Frost’s work, including his work on writing poetry. And let me tell you — that man is DARK. Poet of the American daydream he is not.


So I loved finding the poem of the day (from the Writer’s Almanac) was one titled ‘Robert Frost,’ by George Bilgere. It has far less to do w/ Frost than it does w/ my other passion, teaching.  And of course it reminds me of some Buddhist something — in this case, it reminds me that everything passes. Frost, grading, but especially the weekend. During which I should have graded (instead of it all looming over me still!), but instead managed to have a perfectly in-the-moment two days.


I’m not repentant. Not to mention I got the following poem out of it, for National Poetry Writing Month:

Dear George Bilgere[1] ~

and is there an accent grave over the first é

George? Shouldn’t poets bear names

that channel craft & music…?


You’re looking for insight, George ~

I’m seeking music. I’m hungering

for something there is that doesn’t like

a grade

something that resists articulation.

The evocation of a darkness in delight

of roads that end in empty swings

or doors that open only into absence.


I’m grading too, George. And I wish


that we were reading Frost.

That ambiguity

and language rustled impatiently

on the dented surface of my desk.


I wish just once that even echoes

of the darkness shimmering beneath his lyrics

filled the silence of my study.

Instead, the asthmatic wheezing

of a dog whose days brim with dreams

of material poetry

the fragrance of smoke

the bob & weave of nestlings

                                                the scuttle

of possible lives

spirals from the floor beneath my feet.


No evaluation is occurring, George.

Assessment still clouds the horizon.



and the weekend curls behind me

like the ribbon of a road trip

almost finished            Kerouac not Frost

While folders bloom like spring within

the confines of my backpack

and ambiguity

feathers across paper like smeared ink.

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