Slow Learner

17 Mar

The walls close in and I prepare to step through them and beyond

Into a world where the best friend I have is solitude

The beginning of each new day celebrated in silence

Save for the sighing of  wind over the land

The rush of wave on sand and the passage of sun across the sky

Shade during the day

Shelter at night

Searching for water and food in a desert on the edge of the sea

For the remainder of my days

I will mark the passing time by counting smoke plumes on the  horizon

Watching people in the distance even as I avoid them

And write my epitaph on black lava with white coral

In words time will slowly erase

I was a slow learner

16 Responses to “Slow Learner”

  1. tedstrutz March 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Nicely done, Doug… lots of thoughts, and many meanings to think about. Such a gentle poem. A nice connection with the photo, since I have seen lava like that on the Big Island recently and collected white coral, nestled in the lava swirls, with my granddaughter.

    I get the feeling that the poet has lost his soulmate and looking forward to his future. Lovely poem.

    • dmmacilroy March 17, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

      Dear Ted,

      You, Sir, see deep into still water.

      Tell me what you were doing here? A visit with friends and family to see friends and family? Nice to know you’ve walked the lava of my home. Some see it as a barren moonscape, others see it as the beginning of new life on the planet.

      I’ve tried to join your blog but cannot find the square to check. Can you enlighten me? (Trick question:)

      Thanks for reading Slow Learner.



      • tedstrutz March 18, 2012 at 12:30 am #

        Aloha Doug… My daughter has friends who have houses in Hilo and Kona. Nicki Conte and her boyfriend Sev, who is a masseur. She is a flamenco dancer… don’t know how much call for that there is in Hawaii. I have an old friend who lives in Volcano, Ken Arnapole, but did not know that when I was there, and we were in Volcano one day. He has the Volcano Gallery. We stayed at the bay of the little grass shack, on Kona side… it started with a K… big help huh? A delightful time. I had been to all the other islands before and this was quite a different experience.

        I guess if you click at the top of the blog to follow on WordPress. Or by e-mail over on the right.

  2. Parul March 17, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    Have come back to it and read a few times… Wonder how almost all your posts have that pull…
    Loved this line – “Watching people in the distance even as I avoid them”

    Thanks for sharing this.

    • dmmacilroy March 17, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

      Dear Parul,

      That’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about anything I’ve written, no less my attempts at tone poetry. Thanks.

      Don’t spend too much time trying sort it out. Once all the key events fall into place I’ll be out of touch in the desert.



  3. bridgesareforburning March 17, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    Hi Doug,
    Welcome to the slow learner club. I’m a founding member. But being a slow learner is a lot better than being a no learner, which is where some people are. I’m still evolving is the way I prefer to view it. And your epitath is not being written in black lava. It’s being written in a more permanent place, Ironwood Wind. People will be feeling that zephyr forever, or as long as we last as a species. Thanks for sharing a beautiful piece of your writing.



    • dmmacilroy March 17, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

      Dear Ron,

      Thanks for even reading this one. Second poetry post so far. I usually cringe when I see them elsewhere but every now and then things happen that move me in the tone poem direction.

      Your observation that my epitaph is being written here is very astute. That has been my goal since its inception three years ago back in its Blogger incarnation.

      All of that notwithstanding, this slow learner is happy to be in your club. The brochure said I had to have been paying my dues all along, but let me know if I need to send in any more.



  4. Jeannie March 18, 2012 at 3:41 am #

    My dear Editor…Simply said, outstanding. Your words here made me quite emotional Doug. The contemplation, the solitude, the acceptance, with what I perceived as even a bit of resignation, to life’s reality. I found myself nodding: yes, yes, I understand this. Looking back, maybe we are all slow learners in one way or another. What’s done is done, what’s left unsaid, remains so. By the time we have it figured out, it’s too late to make it right. What lays before us then? “The walls close in and I prepare to step through them and beyond Into a world where the best friend I have is solitude…”

    I am touched.

    • dmmacilroy March 18, 2012 at 5:30 am #

      Dear Jeannie,

      Resignation? Good choice of words, Jeannie. I hadn’t thought of that until you winkled it out from between the lines. It is nice of you to read Slow Learner and leave such a detailed comment. I appreciate your keen eye and discerning ear. Thank you.



  5. Quill Shiv March 18, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    Congratulations! You have been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award!

    Click here:

    And collect the image, and read the instructions on how to pass the love

  6. Madison Woods March 19, 2012 at 12:32 am #

    Doug, I think we’re all slow learners, but most don’t even realize it before the very end. It’s probably most painful to those who do. That was a beautiful poem and I think I understand it. I remember your first post on the nightmare blogger platform however long ago it was. I think we’ve both come a long way since then on many fronts.

  7. Spider42 March 21, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    Nice poem.
    I tend to prefer a more rhyme-inclined form of poetry but not a stickler for it.

    I like the somewhat stark and crisp/clear/blunt way in which you express an idea – not brunt as in brutish or anything, merely precise and not meandering or vague as some poets can be in such things.
    Makes its point, carries a thought and a feeling and conveys well.

  8. Carlos March 26, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    That was very… bleak in a way, also yearning for peacefulness found in nature… it makes me feel like me, actually. Slow Learner was the title of Thomas Pynchon’s autobiographical book, he being one of my favourite writers, especially his later books. I understand your trepidation about poetry; I’ve never been a poetry person. Lat week I was asking my wife what exactly is a poem and when I began this week’s Friday Fiction story I was thinking poetry for the first paragraph.

  9. Susan Wenzel (@SusanWenzel) March 30, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    Somehow I missed this…the picture alone is enough to make me pine for the Big Island. I’m buying a place there in 6 years, you know…


    • dmmacilroy March 30, 2012 at 11:55 pm #

      Dear Susan,

      Do you know where yet? I’ll be there with a lei when you arrive.



      • Susan Wenzel (@SusanWenzel) March 31, 2012 at 1:30 am #

        We looked pretty much everywhere from Hamakua to Puna when we thought we were moving there a couple years ago. We found a 26 acre sweet little fruit farm in Kalaoa that we liked too (It’s still for sale). But I have to admit, I’d live anywhere I could have a few acres of privacy, a lanai with a view, and a few papaya and lychee trees – I’m easy to please.


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