Journal Notes on the Flight Home

by Irene Blair Honeycutt

Irene Blair Honeycutt

I am sharing with you a poem from my first book of poetry, It Comes as a Dark Surprise. The poem “Journal Notes on the Flight Home” came as a surprise to me. Why? Well, picture a much younger me back in the late 80s, settling into my seat on a flight home from an incredible trip to Greece. The plane departs, and I’m feeling a bit guilt-ridden because I hadn’t written much in my journal during this adventure. Even late at night, I felt that Greece never goes to sleep; so I observed, listened, followed—writing only in snatches.

When I saw the stewardess pushing the cart of drinks and snacks down the aisle, I quickly unzipped my backpack, pulled out journal and pen, and began jotting down things I didn’t want to forget. Fragments. No thought of being perfect. Didn’t matter if I misspelled. I just captured quick memories within a few words. At some point, of course, back in the U.S., I opened that travel journal. A lucky surprise awaited me. Those jottings were the poem! Most poems are drafted many times. But this was a rare time when I only tinkered with the words and lines a bit. I used the couplet form and, as the poem took shape, I realized that I could return to this poem and actually write separate poems about each couplet. But for now, this became the poem I’m sharing with you.

I share it to encourage you to see the magic of  writing without fear of making mistakes. Letting the ideas/images flow. Tapping into the unconscious.  While such jottings most often will not surface as a finished piece, you will have discovered something new. As Robert Frost says, “No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader!”

Journal Notes on the Flight Home

by Irene Blair Honeycutt

Write about the sheep bells
and church bells

about the shepherds
coming in from the fields at night

how the beams from their flashlights
combed the olive leaves

write about the barking dogs
and always the bells tinkling

how your ears strained to hear
through the dark distance

and the slap of water against the rocks
in the cave’s mouth

how the hungry cave gulped
the waves don’t forget that

and the way the cicadas shrieked
in the willows

when the stones went pink and silent
on the hill at sunset

remember the cypress trees
that stood tall around the cemetery,

guarding the graves
with their green truths  . . .

Irene Blair Honeycutt is an award-winning teacher and poet. Her fourth poetry book, Beneath the Bamboo Sky (Main Street Rag, 2017), is sub-titled Poems and Pieces on Loss and Consolation. Irene’s kinship with trees began in her childhood in Florida where she built and retreated to her palm hut. She still meets with the woods and enjoys writing time in her mountain cabin. Her work has been published by journals, including Nimrod, Southern Poetry Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology: VII, Black Moon Magazine, Kakalak and Virginia Quarterly. She founded Central Piedmont Community College’s Sensoria, mentors writers, and is completing her fifth poetry manuscript.