Sunday, 21 of January of 2018

Bill Yake – Tree As Verb

The english language is a merchant language, a colonial language, a language ruled by nouns that objectify and value the importance of things based on who is in possession of them, as well as the means by which they can tender them. In a word: NOUN

On the opposite other side of the multi-cultural spectrum are indigenous cultures who more often relate to objects as verbs. Every living and non-living thing in their culture’s world is animate. And when every single thing is a self-determined being who we must seek right relationship with…  There is much less use for nouns, much greater need for VERBS.

So let us leap over to this extreme with a poem where nearly every last word is a verb. From longtime warrior poet Bill Yake’s newest book of poetry: Unfurl Kite and Veer Listen to the entire interview at KUOW


Tree as Verb

The true formula for thought: The Cherry tree is all that it does.” –Ernest Fenollosa

Seed, swell, press and push, sprout, bud, curl, bloom, unfurl.

Quicken, ripen and dispense.


Blotch, ferment, rot and mushroom.


Probe, grape, root, draw in, draw up, dole up, absorb, allot.

assimilate, respire, reconstitute, release.


Reach, brace, resist, avoid, deflect, split, notch, rustle, shake, bend and shimmy.


Cover, mask, obscure, protect, enclose and hide; tolerate, support,

feed, shade, harbor and disguise.

Stand, sketch out, stretch out, fork, reach, branch, divide, incline and


Reclaim, endure and burn

Return, leaf out, green up synthesize, digest, night-quiver, yellow

wilt and wither, abscise.

Collapse, to root and rise.


Lesley Turner has found a fascinating way to honor this poem. See it here.


“As fractals erupt from a point and the molecules of crystals fall into their specific order, Yake’s poems hit and glow with their necessity…Whether he is driving across central Washington, walking a trail in the coastal forests, reading Fenollosa, or listening to a tale in the New Guinea Highlands, [he] is tuned to the situation, absorbing all the fine detail, and linking co-ordinates in his memory. He lets the language mesh and move in his mind, and when he shows the words to you, you are there too, and seeing, hearing, knowing.”  —Howard McCord . Poet, essayist, and novelist; longtime Director of the Creative Writing Program at Bowling Green State University.


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