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Acquainted With

October 2018

I think most people would consider an "acquaintance" to be a person we know, but not someone we would describe as close friend. In this time of social media "friends," we probably have many more acquaintances than we have true friends.

When I heard Garrison Keillor read Robert Frost's “Acquainted with the Night,” I thought about the word and wondered if Frost's relationship with the night was like that - known, but not known very well.

A dictionary will tell you I am wrong because "acquainted" means having personal knowledge of something by way of study and experiences. A lawyer is "acquainted with law" and that (hopefully) means he is informed about it through studying it and dealing with it in real situations. This made me reread Frost's poem looking for the deeper relationship the speaker has with the night from studying and experiencing it. This is not some lightweight relationship with the night.

When I studied this poem in college, it was presented the poet's thoughts on depression. Experiencing depression was like walking through the night. Whether the person walks in a city or beyond it to where there is no light, he is alone.

That interpretation seems less certain to me now. I feel that the poem is as much about experiencing the literal night and darkness as it is about any symbolic meanings we attach to the night.

The night does not "call me back or "say good-by" and the night - and my interpretation - is "neither wrong nor right."

Follow Frost's titling and use "acquainted with" as part of your title.

You also might want to follow Frost's other formal elements. His poem is strict iambic pentameter. It has 14 lines like a sonnet. It has a terza rima rhyme scheme (aba bcb cdc dad aa). That rather complex "third rhyme" is credited to Dante Alighieri from his The Divine Comedy. Be warned: terza rima is easier in Italian because so many Italian words have vowel endings

For more on all our prompts and other things poetic, check out the Poets Online blog.


I have been acquainted with myself.
I have walked by myself, outwalked myself,
passed by myself and didn't even want to say hello.
Once, on my rounds, I saw myself on a parallel
street through a dark alleyway.
I thought to call out, to run to myself,
to give myself an embrace. But I did not.
You can't embrace that which is you.
Not really.
We changed the clock and set time back,
but the other clock is the real present.
Wrong or right, I need to decide,
which version is true.

Lianna Wright


Mute rocky cliffs stretch out against the sky
Dark silhouettes that mask the coming dawn
As eagles rise from nests to hunt, and I
Watch from an empty beach till they are gone
Then push my skiff into an ebbing tide
That carries me on mirrored sheets of glass
Out past the point where schools of herring hide
In groves of blue green undulating grass
Where weirs once strung with brightly colored twine
Point black Zombie fingers toward the Sun
Where minke whales and salmon come to dine
And dolphins chase each other just for fun
Here, in a simple wooden boat, I lie
To watch the Sun stretch out against the sky

Frank Kelly


I've called him Sweet Boy, from time to time
the clean one I write about, every now and then,
the pure soul - or maybe not pure.
Such a loaded word - like kosher.

Can there ever be another?
Of course - and there have already been
countless, I'm sure - sure as I am
acquainted with goodness myself.

There is no perfect evil and likely
no perfect good - but should one come
to blog that goodness is a finer answer
than its opposite, you watch they don't
flog him one way or another, hack his
account and throw him to the wolves.

You don't have to believe Handel's Messiah
to the letter, but more should be done
to understand why we - we: humanity -
are so reluctant to welcome good news
wherever it comes from: some PhD
or a penniless rabbi from Galilee.

Timea Deinhardt


Sifting ashes
Junk heap find
I spin and pull and cast aside
This space that is divinely mine
Oh words can never concentrate
Nor thoughts seek to liberate
The moments I pontificate
I’m acquainted with my mind
It sits
It wanders
To and fro
It waits, impatient
Calls me home
And late at night it puzzles me so
I’m acquainted with my mind
The shift of time has made me slow
It’s caused my thoughts to tumble low
But in the day I am still me
Solely and completely free
I can’t be else
I can only be
I’m acquainted with my mind.

Kathryn Averyheart


the one who owned this land before we came –
she rose above the oak that clutched her nest
with fuzzy hawkling. Famished was his name.

She rose above us like a sterner test
of will, then settled. We settled as well,
and watched her drone the oak woods east to west

in search of prey to feed her child. The spell
of hunger-hunter held our songbirds deep
as shadows in the brush. And who could tell,

for lack of birdsong in our wake or sleep,
what bird had been those feathers scattered, strewn
at edge of woods which wildwood secrets keep?

Our hawk – no more than we could own the moon –
regards us with her eye from granite hewn.

Taylor Graham


I made your acquaintance on a spring day
When pinks and jonquils laughed along the walk
And bees sang in the grass of coming May.

I dreamt of endless summer, but heard talk
Drifting out the kitchen door, grown soft, hushed,
Chilling the wind like the cry of a hawk.

You had come among the bowed heads, the brushed
Crumbs and dishes left piled as though in spite
In the sink; no one spoke, not one tear rushed

To leaven the stagnant air or give flight
To words, so taught I had to feel my way
Back outside, stumbling past your velvet might,

Back to where life was always golden play.
I made your acquaintance on a spring day.

Robert Miller


I’m far friendlier with the rain
from inside my warm home.
I say, listen to it, isn’t is marvelous,
as if you are not lying beside me.
We wrap up tighter in the flannel;

give thanks for the few things
we’ve gotten done; storm windows,
clean gutters, a small chimney patch.

I’ve come to know the rain
as a time to be inside.
Yet it’s the going inside
I ache for the most:

The finding of home
within the walls of my heart.
The knowing I am home.

As a child I loved puddles;
the splashing, the mud,
the slurping sound of
almost losing a red boot.

I’m more familiar with
other seasons, if rain is this.
Yet it’s she I am most like.

Patty Joslyn


All things are connected in Time and Space.
I sense this deeply when I lie in bed -
I see the Cosmic fabric interlace.

God’s not a bearded man with halo’d head;
God’s not part jackal, elephant or dog;
God takes whatever form your teacher said!

Divine’s a vibration - cuts through the fog
Of holy books that just serve to divide,
Trapping the blinded in an ancient bog.

We all arrived here, so we all decide
Whether to acknowledge the Spark within,
Nurture the Divine Light that shines inside

This suit of bones and organs, flesh and skin.
My Divine’s eternal, and without sin.

Damo Leigh


My aunt visited the deads; none visited back - not a one
Sometimes she brought flowers; sometimes she cried - always she would pray
An all day trip; she and uncle didn't drive - both well past young

I wondered if the deads liked company and what they might say
"Deads r us. No need for a house call. What can we do for you?
Good, old life pulling you down again? Faith - up and gone astray?"

Deads' silence. So, aunt took to cleaning markers of soil and dew
She’d touch the years etched in marble; testing her knowledge by heart
Aloud, she read their names, and felt the pain of each loss anew

And she talked; recounting happy stories, relishing each part
Some thoughts were solemn but good memories never left her glum
Tented hands and downcast eyes - life imitating gravestone art

She sought her own peace where no tomorrows had ever begun
Her deads listened, understood - loneliness, fear, coming undone

Terri J. Guttilla