A! Magazine for the Arts

Dan Stryk

Dan Stryk

Poetry: Natural World Inspires Dan Stryk

March 24, 2009

He recently retired from Virginia Intermont College where he taught World Literature and Creative Writing. While proud to claim Bristol as his place of permanent residence, he remains deeply drawn to the broader notion of cultural diversity and has lived and traveled around the world, including London, England, where he was born.

Two important concepts pervade much of what Stryk writes - whether in the form of the poem or prose parable - his fascination with distinctive cross-cultural contrasts and his close observation of the natural world.

Stryk is now near completion of a new full-length volume of lyric poetry titled Shape of Flight. He has authored a number of chapbooks and full-length collections of poems and prose parables: The Artist and the Crow; Death of a Sunflower: Poems and Prose Parables; Taping Images to Walls: A Medley of Informal Sonnet; and two recent volumes, Solace of the Aging Mare and Dimming Radiance: Poems and Prose Parables.

Scroll down to read two of Dan's poems....


The Smell of Wild Onions, Mowing

by Dan Stryk

The world declares itself.
- Robert Penn Warren

Unfailingly, each early May, the work
year flown for a brief spell, I'm moved by

the deep thrill their keen scent wakens,
as I shove my mower, whirring, through

the shaggy yellowed grass come back
to life. Patches of their tiny white-bulbed

heads peek from the grasstips. Pungent
spies on my elopement into months of

simple tasks around the yard. Of earth
concerns, alone. My duties rough beside

the careful gardening of my wife - the
flower borders and new grass seed that

she begs me, scowling, not to mash in
my deep mindless trance. Our closest

time. And then when all is said and done -
my mower, stripped of mud and roots,

housed in the shed - their juices wavering
fuller in the air, declare themselves,

forgivingly, where my smoking metal
dragon's singeing teeth have scourged.

Their odor, sweetly sour, now spreads
everywhere. Meant to throw me back,

I think, to something rank and whole:
when I lived closer to the earth, but can't

recall. Yet the feeling's oh so close, like
deja vu. Another smell (or sight or sound?)

that must have waked me, for a moment,
to the world. The piercing gusts of seaweed

on a dory in Japan? Rustling of cornleaves
on a lost Midwestern farm?
Precisely when

or where no longer matters. In these
summer months, ahead, I've lived before.

Southwest Virginia

Reprinted with permission from Death of a Sunflower, Timberline Press, 1999


Meditation on the Appalachian Trail
(Or Why a Young Man Plunged?)

by Dan Stryk

Dennis Cove,
Upper East Tennessee

Day after Good Friday - blue air buzzing
through fresh stink of wakened sulphur & those
rock-tossed rhythms of Laurel Creek

beneath the jagged ridge-line that we trek
along the rise to the GREAT FALL. Its churning
pool below we know & don't, like unscored

jazz reborn each year, both beautiful
& threatening at once: an art we love but can't
define & so return to puzzle at its grasp

on us - as one imagines rising from that
frothy SUMMIT like a circling hawk, breast
fluff pierced by sun's brisk rays

above the forked trail's distant ribbon
that we tread. Or as local Legend claims
he'd done, tumbling through that liquid

curtain of sheer glass, framed there
for one dazzling MOMENT launched by an
unsure foot down terrifying but

charged heights climbed to again, unseen.
Or was he gripped by some cloistered despair,
deepened each year, he'd cleanse for

good by leaping from that hazy line where
crystal Froth meets Sky? Or deeper still,
was he driven by some Rapture - also

undefined - before SOARING, through the
shrill blue air, toward shallows
of brown stone?

-- A Review: Solace and Radiance The Imaginative Writings of Dan Stryk.

-- Rita Sims Quillen: 'What Probably Made Me A Writer'

-- Back to Main story: Regional Poets Celebrate National Poetry Month