Showing off

The Friday Photo
April 18, 2014
Spring is showing off in downtown Milledgeville, Georgia.

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Table Grace: For the Good, the True, and the Beautiful

Table Grace: For the Good, the True and the Beautiful

Seed of the three is
the True – world itself’s
soon-entangling particulars,

like the fence-line lost
in thickets of blackberries
favored by a phoebe.

From that first, seeds buried
in the mind might

root deeper, branch higher –

single-double direction
of the Good, of the Beautiful

of the merely here

harvested by my noticing.

Plum’s restorative taste
rounding around seed

might guide us to be
a health of seeds

opening, rising,
branching into falling

to seeds to deeds to seeds –

from felt meaninglessness
to meaning’s feeling.

Let each of our choices
root and rise, like the giving
of pears for the table
and mulberries for the waxwings.

Let our living
be ownerless fields
grown thick with our thanks.

–by Daniel Corrie, originally published in the Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review

Dan Corrie

Dan Corrie birding at the coast

This poem emerged from my wife’s and my adventures in exploring relocalization in rural South Georgia.

Six years ago, we moved from living in Midtown Atlanta to settle on my wife’s inherited family farm in Tift County, an hour and a half north of Florida.  One of our key concerns about the move was whether we’d be able to eat as we’d grown accustomed with all the choices available in Atlanta, including buying from local farms we had toured where we’d met and even become friends with some of the farmers and knew they didn’t use pesticides.

A key persuasive factor was that a member of the board of Georgia Organics lived in Tifton.  We telephoned her, and she told us of her local volunteer efforts devoted to nurturing a true farmers market, as opposed to what so many such markets have been: a cross between a flea market and an outlet for venders to resell produce grown nowhere near and with no assurance of how it was grown.

After we moved down to the farm, we enjoyed joining our new friend in devoting time to the farmers market.  In that process, the three of us also organized the first South Georgia Growing Local and Sustainable conference, which attracted about 60 people to the Tifton event.  The conference has gone on to be held in various parts of South Georgia, organized by other friends who care about healthy, locally raised food, with the events attracting from one to two hundred participants.  And Tifton’s farmers market has grown, with other friends in the community emerging to run it and to shape it and improve what our group has incorporated as the Wiregrass Farmers Market. The market has come to be headquartered at the beautiful Georgia Museum of Agriculture in partnership with the University of Georgia.  The market has come to be a place where people come not only to buy food but to run into friends and enjoy visiting with each other.

Around our inherited house, my wife planted a garden, as well as sixty-some edible trees and bushes.  Some of our Tifton friends began a slow food club, in which different couples or individuals will host a pot-luck at their home and everyone attending puts together dishes with local ingredients.  They might grow some of the ingredients themselves, buy from the farmers market, or buy or trade or simply be given ingredients from other friends and neighbors.

In my poem, I refer to three values highly prized by Plato: the good, the true and the beautiful.  While Plato thought in philosophical terms of eternal, perfect forms, my poem reflects my own personal bias for the true in terms of the real, at-hand world where the particulars matter, such as which farmer raised what we eat and how much carbon went into transporting our food during our time of global climate change.  When circles of people find fun in working together while paying attention to nature’s ways, the good and the beautiful surely can follow.

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Got poetry?

Poem in Your PocketTwo years ago my friend (and poet) Dennis Kirschbaum opened my eyes to Poem in Your Pocket Day (His piece “The Useless Machine” is brilliant). Dennis was kind enough to give me a poem about coffee to have that day, which I have kept with me since then (I confess to making a note once on the back of the folded paper).

This year I invited friends who know and love poetry to share a favorite poem with me in anticipation of Poem in Your Pocket Day. I’ll be posting their choices here.

I’m beginning with Dennis and a poem he wrote.

Blessing for Coffee
Dennis M Kirschbaum

Make the sun shine on leaves and let their roots
drink rain. Strengthen arms and backs to pick

the cherries and wash away flesh to reveal seeds.
Steady ships on the inscrutable sea carrying them

green and raw in burlap to arrive in New York,
L.A. and where the Mississippi empties.

Give wisdom to the roaster bringing heat,
revealing character neither pallid grass nor

so burnt that the surface bleeds pungent oil.
Guide the barista’s tattooed hands as he grinds

fourteen perfect grams into the yawning mouth
of his portafilter and fits it to the group head,

an offering of gifts at the stainless altar. Hold fast
the laws of physics, scramble electrons, build heat,

pressure, force steam through puck into ceramic.
Grant through fortune and the labor of my hands,

spare custom to bestow for this crema capped,
dark measure. Now, while this brain is becalmed

in haze, help me recall the miracles that delivered this
to my lips and let me be worthy of it as it fills me.

Dennis Kirschbaum

Dennis Kirschbaum

Dennis M. Kirschbaum grew up in Baltimore. He has a B.A. in English from Guilford College and an M.A. in Jewish Philosophy from Baltimore Hebrew University. He is an Associate Vice President at Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life and an Adirondack 46er, having climbed to the summit of the highest mountains in New York State.  His chapbook, Clattering East is available from Finishing Line Press and on Amazon. He lives and writes in Washington Grove, Md.

addition: Dennis is also featured at Author Amok today.



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