Disquisition on Trees

by Matthew Rohrer

copyright ©2004 by Verse Press

The book that says the President is a friend of trees is a book of lies! The President should read the one about the little mouse that drove a car and got his girlfriend pregnant and they had to fly a rubberband-powered airplane over a stack of newspapers. Not a tree in sight. Not a tree in the whole book. Another book that he might pick up casually could strip the veil of illusion from his eyes: pretty women, the unpleasant foot odors of. But that is only what it appears to be about. It is a book about how to have a big piece missing from your head and live.

Notes on the Poem

Is it just us, or is there something slightly uncomfortable and somewhat familiar about the voice that seems to intone Matthew Rohrer's poem "Disquisition on Trees", from his 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted collection A Green Light? Although this poem was published more than 12 years ago, what is the mysterious je ne sais quoi that makes it feel like it just popped up in our newsfeeds this minute? Is something downright prophetic going on here? Scholars have scrutinized the revelatory qualities and intent of poetry since time immemorial and up to the present day. As one recent paper observes:
Poetry is thus interpreted as a channel of divine vision reaching beyond the ordinary sight of mortals and issuing in inspired speech. This uncanny awareness connects by heavenly inspiration or even madness with a higher, transcendent source of consciousness, which is to say, with a revealed type of knowing. And yet poetry is also generally deemed a free, creative production of human beings, an art serving for expression of what is most deeply and intimately human.
from "Poetry, Prophecy, and Theological Revelation" by William Franke, May 2016 Rohrer probably was not channelling the divine when he penned a poem that, many years later, uses words and diction eerily similar to a current U.S. president who seems to hold the world's attention. Not only that, but the poem seems to mimic the cadence of that individual's social media postings, a communications channel that did not exist when Rohrer's poetry collection was published. While the poem sounds kind of spooky in 2017, we must confess it's also entertaining. While there is admirable and serious consideration of poetry’s relevance in a time of crisis, its ability to intrigue us and buoy our spirits in amusing fashion is perhaps as important as its role in inspiring us.

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