This was a failed poem. I worked at it for quite awhile and wasn’t happy with it at all. So on a whim, I ran it through “Translation Party” and then did some tweaking. Sometimes that helps. This time, I think, it helped a lot.


The original–or at least, the version I finally gave up on:



Deer follow the ways their grandmothers made

beneath the shady trees and through the openings

to brooks and pools, where tender twigs

and grasses grow. Their pointed feet remember.


In winter, neat tracks on the snow

pass between hummocks and roots,

small distances, safe from hooting owls.

The tribes of rodents don’t forget.


When lions hunted in the night

and dangers skulked in every shade,

the paths were set in primate brains.

And still those tracks remain.



and the redone one:


Stoop under the pine-bough shade,

open the door to the swift-growing grass

where grandmothers of deer have flown

like winter rivers. Remember

their pointed feet. Roots track

through the forests beneath

winter snows. Owl, owl,

one calls from far away. Remember

our feathered tribes.


Night hunting beasts

skulk the ancient paths.

Their tracks remain.

2 comments on “OLD PATHS

  1. Jane Jackson says:

    If only I could write a “failed poem” like this first one I would be happy. Both are beautiful.

  2. The second version is full of wonderful leaps!

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