The Trek

“The creative adult is the child who has survived.” – Ursula Le Guin

William Wordsworth, born 1770, was orphaned at an early age and left in the care of his uncle, an academic. He received a scholarship to Cambridge, but preferred to educate himself, writing later: “I was not for that hour / Or for that place.” Instead of spending the summer before his senior year studying, he and his friend Robert Jones set off trekking Europe. They headed for the French Alps, Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Valley with landscapes powerful enough to guide an illiterate hand to write poetry, but this was Wordsworth who went on to base his autobiographical The Prelude on that hike.

Below is a peek out of the window from where my wife and I woke in a small bed and breakfast in Chamonix a few years ago, followed by a morning touring the village and then taking a cable car up to the Aiguille-de-Midi.



I have no delusions that I could ever hold Wordsworth’s quill, nevertheless that doesn’t stop me from scribing my own verse. The following poem is one of several that were inspired by our trip to the French Alps and Chamonix. The story behind the poem was published in Saint Anthony Messenger magazine in 2013.



Nine o’clock chimes quake the bell tower

clothed in stained glass and gilded with the Virgin


iron pulleys strain the funicular

to a tiled station on Praying Hill


across from de Fourviere,

No Service Today.


Mosaics peer down on empty pews

out on the veranda a hazy view


Mount Blanc 100 miles away

through a mountain pass massifs open


to paragliders casting rainbow shadows

on azure waters of Lake Annecy.


In a quaint Alps village

a toothless Moroccan waits


for the funicular to descend,

while an irate innkeeper in Lyon


watches us run out the door

laughing all the way to Chamonix.


jim brennan



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“We are all broken… that’s how the light gets in.” – Hemingway

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Poetry in the Park

“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks.” –  Plutarch

Philadelphia Poetry Day festivities planned for April 9th in Wissahickon Park was a whiteout – Spring, Philly style. So the poets reschedule an event they named Poetry in the Park held on May 14th in the Wissahickon on Forbidden Drive outside the historic Valley Green Inn.


Poets representing the Muse HouseManayunk-Roxborough Art Center and the Mad Poets Society read their original work in an open air reading as runners, cyclist, strollers and equestrians passed by. More than forty original poems were read, as well as work by other favorite poets.

Join local Philly poets next year for the Second Annual Poetry in the Park, tentatively planned for May 2017. More to come.


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Haiku Universe

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“After all, I don’t see why I am always asking for private, individual, selfish miracles when every year there are miracles like white dogwood.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh


I turn to see Bella

part the sea

a million tiny miracles

under my feet.


“Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you.”

– Annie Dillard



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No Politico

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.” – Joan Didion

I follow bar rules for blogging – never discuss religion or politics. But the ongoing spectacle the media is selling as a presidential campaign is just too entertaining to resist. My wife and I follow the daily madness and wager what will make Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live. Many times we are right. And just as the circus roles into my hometown Philadelphia and I didn’t think it could get any better, the Republican front runners are urging John Kasich, the only sensible candidate in their party, to drop out.

When will people come to their senses?

Like the immortal Joan Didion put it, I need to write to know what I’m thinking, so I hammered out this poem to make sense of the 2016 presidential campaign.


Hash Browns on Super Bowl Sunday


The day I told her I love her more than Charlie Brown loved Lucy

Someone wearing a Donald Trump mask threatened to jump from the Statue of Liberty

Some things never change; Marcie still resented being named after her mother’s pet guinea pig

It was maddening to watch her pull the football away every time he was about to kick off

And the Democrats said he had a crack in his head the size of the Liberty Bell

Maybe she didn’t like pets

But as long as it made sense to him, that’s all that matters

Meanwhile Fred, Marcie’s husband of twenty-five years, reverted to the solace of hashish

While Charlie Brown made hash browns on Super Bowl Sunday

Which is essential when planning a long-term strategy, whether in love or politics

The vagrant in a John Adams wig sitting in Tun Tavern has nothing to do with this story

Though Maggie, Fred’s daughter, got pissed when her toddler found his hash pipe stuffed in the front seat of his Bonneville

Lucy finally figured it out on Champs-Elysees in Paris on their fortieth anniversary

And Marcie took a long toke and made salacious eyes at Fred

Fortunately, voters woke up on election day and realized there was no turning back

               jim brennan

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Soaring Above Pulpit Rock

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” – John Muir


I would like to acknowledge the raptor who soared overhead while I sat at Pulpit Rock yesterday.

Above Pulpit

sitting on Pulpit

watching you glide

in those wings you grew

and flew away too soon

even from the other side

you fill a room with laughter

a tear,


like you leaving us

with no chance to say goodbye

and no choice

but to take you with me

each day

everywhere I go.


                   jim brennan

And a huge shout out to Gunnar from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who set out from Springer Mountain, Georgia, in late January, braved two feet of snow in the Smoky Mountains, and made it to Pulpit Rock on April 20th. Trek strong and safe, my friend!

And safe travels to each of the 1,000-plus 2016 Thru-hikers.

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