Frost’s Forest in Your Head

On this day, March 7, in 1923, Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” was published by the New Republic. This poem is one of the first that I set to memory. I carry it with me everywhere I go.

I carry its emptiness through my busy, busy days. The little horse shaking its harness bells is such a quiet sound in the midst of the teenage voices and car engines and noise of TV and computer that fill my days.

The “easy wind and downy flake” are suspended in my bones while I try to shut the car door against the southern Oklahoma wind and grab for my sunglasses in the stark light of the day.

I pass a slew of abandoned farmhouses on my way to work each morning but none seem as quiet, as lyrical, as lonely as the one that is not even near on that “darkest evening of the year.”

The death wish that some people say Frost’s poetry contains is always present with life. In the midst of life, we are . . . and so it goes (as Vonnegut would say). This poem about wanting to sleep in the dark and deep woods is the network of veins under our skin.

The blood is our desire to go another mile, just one more mile, before we sleep. Thank you, Robert Frost, for the gift of your forest that fills my life.

–Shaun Perkins


Beginning with Death

I wrote an earlier musing on poems ending with the word “life,” so I thought I would also consider poems beginning with the word “death.” The most famous of these is probably John Donne’s “Death Be Not Proud,” which John Gunther took for the title of the biography of his son’s illness and death—a book from my childhood that I remember quite clearly (along with Robby Benson, my teenage crush, in the TV movie role). Continue reading “Beginning with Death”


Dear Winter,

You hold the prints of my terrier dog Socks, the dog of my son’s childhood who died after the ice storm of 2007. You held her prints for a week after she was gone. I still remember walking by them when I went around the house. They were in the dark place where the sun doesn’t reach beneath the southern edge of the carport. You didn’t take her, but I will always remember when she left because of that path you kept after she was gone. You are a season for imprints. Continue reading “Dear Winter,”
Musings, Poems

Working at the Tom Mix Museum

The big white hat has grayed in its case,
Next to 2-inch spiked spurs banned even then
And dried-up lassos and embroidered leather gloves
That would disintegrate if taken out of display.
The suitcases of death are stacked beside a saddle
With the TM logo stamped on the side.
The shiny metal cases have a few dents in them,
Perhaps one in the shape of his head,
As the case flew forward when his convertible crashed.
While the West disappeared around him,
He died on the side of the road, tossed
From a vehicle he would never learn to master.

–Shaun Perkins

Continue reading “Working at the Tom Mix Museum”