Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bill Coker’s "Sunday Morning at the Bed and Breakfast"

Bill Coker plays many tunes – and all of them well. He is a teacher, songwriter, musician, troubadour, poet, avid student of history and folklore, worship leader, intercessor, member of the Notting Hill Napoleons and, most important of all, a devoted husband and dad.

The following poem was written on the Sunday morning of our last NHN autumn retreat at the Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast down in Nebraska City. Though, like all poetry, it uses references of an esoteric nature, I’m sure you’ll find it almost as moving as we who know intimately the references did. For instance, it’s an old response to failed jokes that “I guess you had to be there.” But, that’s not true with quality poets like Bill Coker. Yes, they certainly give the reader a desire to have been there (that’s the magic) but the poem's rhythm, images and keen observations are treasures in themselves too. Here it is with a photo taken by the Whispering Pines' innkeeper, Jeanna Stavas.


The book club has retreated, leaving only echoes—
footsteps on the stairs, laughter in the rooms.
Scents of orange and pecan, ham and maple linger,
mingling with kitchen clinks of china and crystal.
Outside, a yellow-shafted flicker flits over
to sit atop a bare bur oak, as pines lean
toward second-storey windows.
They are whispering descriptions of the Dickensian
characters who have played their parts here
during this hundred-thirty-year run.
The flicker pauses, cocks her head to listen,
then taps away again, taking notes.