The Picture as Poem

I have a love affair with the northern Californian coast. I’ve taken many pictures over the years.  But recently I grew tired of simply photographing and tweaking them into gift cards to sell to visitors. Visiting galleries, studying, admiring, I decided I wanted to look at photography as a way to capture a poem in a picture. I want the pictures to do more than simply record. I want them to say something about what the camera and the eye find.

But I’m a poet so I couldn’t resist creating words to go with the pictures. I do that for all my cards but in miniature 3 line bits from the “Coastal Sage.”

Here is picture # 1 and the words that came. I looked and wrote like I would make students do. No tweaking, no sitting over night, just do whatever comes. Try it with any picture that speaks to you. I’m sure many of you already do.


in the hedgerow

removed cut pulled from place

many ancient ones have left

not of their own will

but man’s


here among the few remaining

listen at sunset

now they speak through

the wind that gives them voice


stand silent feet rooted

to the ground like

theirs that thrum to you

it seems in deep drum voice


we stand through wind storm

raging salt spray

through man burning

through man tramping over roots


we cling to loamy soil

enduring we understand

the need to give into the wind

to spread our wide shallow roots


in circles we grow

sheltering each other

and the young saplings

struggling to mature


“be green” we tell them

and when greening dies

know that in your twisted

trunks and leaf stripped branches


live all our ancient wisdom

our tree memories

and our gift to man

the humming power of earth’s


ancient circling story

Janice DeRuiter  ©2013


About Winding Stream Press

Janice DeRuiter Eskridge, M.F.A. is a poet who worked for over a decade as a poet-teacher for California Poets in the Schools. Helen Shoemaker, Ph.D. L.M.F.T. is a university professor who teaches in the areas of child development and counseling. She is also a therapist in private practice.
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