“Love For Other Things” by Tom Hennen

It’s early.

It’s barely 5:00 am and I am out walking with my dog. We move in silence. The waning moon provides gentle illumination as we wander down the dirt road.  We are in no hurry this morning. 

As we near the open fields the crickets get louder.  Their chirping adds to the ambience of the moment.  We stop frequently to listen. At this time everything feels right. 

When we return home, I am relaxed and at peace.  

I take off my coat. I place it on the wooden coat rack and turn on the lamp in the corner. I feel drawn to the bookshelf that holds an assortment of field guides, books on religion and spirituality, memorabilia from our travels, and a several books of poetry. I pull off a copy of Tom Hennen’s Darkness Sticks to Everything. With a sense of curiosity I begin searching for a poem that may capture this moment. This moment that is simultaneously filled with ease and gratitude for the mundane and the ordinary.

It doesn’t take me but a second to find something. A torn scrap of paper held the page as if it knew I needed to revisit this verse.  I stand in the dimly lit room and read.

“Love For Other Things”

It's easy to love a deer
But try and care about bugs and scrawny trees
Love the puddle of lukewarm water
From last week’s rain.
Leave the mountains alone for now.
Also the clear lakes surrounded by pines.
People are lined up to admire them.
Get close to the things that slide away in the dark.
Be grateful even for the boredom
That sometimes seems to involve the whole world
Think of the frost 
That will crack our bones eventually.

I pause, read the poem again, and then a third time. 

Yes, that was what I was looking for. Love for the other things, the simple things, because those are the things that make up everyday life. Find joy in these moments and find joy in living.

White Asters in the Dark

About Tom Hennen

Tom Hennen was born in 1942 and spent his early years on farms in Minnesota. In 1965, he began work as a letterpress and offset printer. In 1972, he helped establish the Minnesota Writers’ Publishing House out of his garage. He published his first chapbook, The Heron with No Business Sense, in 1974. He went on to publish five other books and chapbooks, with Darkness Sticks to Everything being a collection of his previous work with some new poems.

Hennen’s poetry is deeply influenced by the natural world.  He writes about the weather, flora, fauna, and his relationship with his surroundings.  Thomas R. Smith describes Hennen’s style as “level, almost Taoist, with a tempered knowledge of self and world. Hennen avoids poetic fashion and speaks without pretension, though not unmusically, of an ancient way of being on and with the earth.”(2) I find his work amazingly grounding and relatable.  I read Hennen’s poetry and say to myself, “This is poetry that works for me”.

Hennen is one of those poets we return to when we long to release what attracted us to poetry in the first place

Thomas R. Smith
Hennen, Darkness Sticks to Everything Book Cover

Do you have a favorite poet?  A poet that seems to speak directly to you? Feel free to share below. 


Resources:

  1. Hennen, Tom. (2013) Darkness Sticks to Everything
  2. Smith, Thomas R., “A Poet with No Business Sense: In Praise of Tom Hennen”, Darkness Sticks to Everything. pg.173
  3.  Hennen, Tom. (1974) The Heron with No Business Sense

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21 thoughts on ““Love For Other Things” by Tom Hennen

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  1. I do love much of Wordsworth’s poems and do return to them often. Also, John Clare and Robert Frost and Edward Thomas and so many others but the one I return most is Mary Oliver whose “Wild Geese” call to me, loud and often. Tom Hennen’s work sounds like I should be reading him too! Thanks for this post. Have a great weekend 🙋‍♂️

  2. Thanks for this poem. I never really came out of the Covid lockdown here, and it looks like we face another wave. During this time, I have been able to cultivate a better sense of being at peace in this place I call home. I have found much beauty in my untended home landscape, it meadows of what other people call weeds, in trees that are twisted, weatherbeaten and dying. To borrow the title of Fenton Johnson’s book, I came to understand that I live at the Center of All Beauty. I feel blessed.

    1. What a great sentiment! Living at the Center of All Beauty is definitely a great way to see the world. COVID also gave me the opportunity to notice and appreciate all those wonderful things around me. Thanks for visiting and the comment. Be Well!

  3. A great post, Mark! I really like how you described your early morning and then transitioned to Tom Hennen’s poem. I’m slowly starting to get more into poetry. Hennen’s writing reminds me very much of Aldo Leopold’s “A Sand County Almanac.” When it comes to relatable poets I have to go with my local guy, Sherman Alexie. He grew up on the Spokane Indian reservation and I grew up as a part-time rural white girl hanging out with a lot off-Rez Indian friends.

    1. Hi Melanie, I will look up Sherman Alexie and see if I can some of his writing. I’m always interested in reading new stuff. One thing I like about Hennen is he writes a lot about winter, and winter feel long in the northeast. Hope all is well on the west coast!

  4. Absolutely delightful read Mark, – so grateful you shared Tom Hennen with it. He is only 12 years my senior – so I’ll have a lot of growing to do. I gather my at-home-ness is closer to the paradox of dysfunctional social reality with nothing but an owl or three for remote company. I definitely empathise with Hennen’s turning away from the glorious mountains and – somehow your story and his merge in my mind: As the owner of a dog might ‘get’ how a muddy puddle can be more interesting than the mountain view. (I might share a post about a Yorkshire guy who combines both. Look out for him.)

  5. Love the post, we sometimes forget to appreciate the smallest things. And mornings are my favorite times as well because thats the only time I can find peace and quiet in my full and loud house

    1. Thanks for visiting! I am so glad you enjoyed the post. You are so right that we need to appreciate the little things, like a calm morning. Thanks for the comment. Be well!

    1. Hi Kally, Thanks for the support and comment. I am glad that you enjoyed the post. Tom Hennen is a great writer and his work really resonates with me.

  6. Stop and smell the roses, they say, but in this post you have moved beyond the cliche to deliver this message to the soul.

    I reflect on how many of my photographs are of sweeping vistas, but some of my best photos are of small, mundane subjects – like the flowers in a restaurant’s window garden that everyone else passes by.

    Most of us will not be able to see a mountain lake every day, so to fully live, we will hopefully see the small beauties that go, by most, unseen.

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