Random Acts of Poetry
How to turn any ordinary tree into a poet-tree
Illustration Credit: Travel Tickets by Josh Berer
Nature, they say, abhors a vacuum—which may be why we fill the space between us with communications of all kinds. During busy times, we email, post, text, and tweet and are surprised when we look up and see a flesh-and-blood face. Poetry posts are a way to combine human connection and a connection with nature. They are like those real-estate signs that hold listing sheets, except that instead of listings, they hold and display poems, quotes, or words of wisdom. They range in complexity from imitation trail markers to unprotected pages attached to trees, which turns trees into—yes—poet-trees.
• Materials for posting, such as a length of string or a prebuilt box
• Statement, wish, quote, or poem honoring nature
• Tree or lamppost
• Unbleached paper
Find a quote or a poem that honors nature and may inspire human beings. Print it out or copy it by hand and live with it for a week to make sure it speaks to you in a variety of moods. Then consider the kind of experience you want to offer.
• Do you want to post a single page that people come to see, or a product people can take with them? Will your posting be ephemeral—designed to wear away over time—or encased in a permanent or semipermanent home?
• Make sure that laws or regulations permit you to post materials in your chosen spot. Your own driveway or lawn may be the best spot for a posting; city and parkland kiosks can work, too.
Set an intention, post your material, then become the first reader to read the post aloud. Let the sound steep the area with good intentions.
Ceremonies and rituals are all about making words and intentions come alive. By posting them to share with friends and strangers alike, you invite ceremony and an appreciation for nature into everyone’s life, and you contribute to a truly social form of media.
The day I’m killed,
my killer, rifling through my pockets,
will find travel tickets:
One to peace,
one to the fields and the rain,
to the conscience of humankind.
Dear killer of mine, I beg you:
Do not stay and waste them.
Take them, use them.
I beg you to travel.
—Samih al-Qasim (Translated by A.Z. Foreman)
From Life-Cycle Ceremonies: A Handbook for Your Whole Life, a new ebook from the Celebrant Foundation.