Harrison is not a poet I was familiar with before this month and this poem resonated with me when Chris read it aloud. It served as a mentor text for us to write our own I BELIEVE poem.
My poem ended up being a lot of one liners that are different things I believe. A list poem almost.
Here is an excerpt of my draft:
I believe how the numbers lay on your W2 does not dictate your worth.
I believe 5 year olds should be listened to and heard.
I believe your title doesn’t mean jack shit to whether I respect you or not.
I believe reading is the gateway to everything,
But coffee is another.
Others that shared in our Zoom class took one belief and expanded it.
It is always fun as a writer to hear other people’s approaches to prompts and their process.
I suppose I could take each of my lines and expand it as well for a different feel and more in depth look at the emotions and experiences underneath.
By Jim Harrison
I believe in steep drop-offs, the thunderstorm across the lake
in 1949, cold winds, empty swimming pools,
the overgrown path to the creek, raw garlic,
used tires, taverns, saloons, bars, gallons of red wine,
abandoned farmhouses, stunted lilac groves,
gravel roads that end, brush piles, thickets, girls
who haven’t quite gone totally wild, river eddies,
leaky wooden boats, the smell of used engine oil,
turbulent rivers, lakes without cottages lost in the woods,
the primrose growing out of a cow skull, the thousands
of birds I’ve talked to all of my life, the dogs
that talked back, the Chihuahuan ravens that follow
me on long walks. The rattler escaping the cold hose,
the fluttering unknown gods that I nearly see
from the left corner of my blind eye, struggling
to stay alive in a world that grinds them underfoot.