She anesthetized unrequitedness
To make it a high art combating ordinary
About emptiness and one sock
A plethora of lint but no substance
Texture of dust and dust return
A film on the eye and no phenomenon
The foam of a head which is no drink
Dying of thirst with a blackened tongue
The black and tans were a mere lark
Of missing she can tell you a story
Detached and full of subjective presence
With enough authorial absence
To be taken seriously, oh poor heart.
My scholarly melancholy is a joke
I played on myself in my fifth decade.
It gave me an excuse to delay gratification
For the great career I really saw myself in.
I was speeding downhill in a red ford Fairmount
Without a driver, With me in the backseat
I was ready to crash into the grassy knoll
It was going to solve all the controversy
I’m not sure about going back to college now
Maybe I should study ART.
I have no connection to technology
I paste up with scissors and glue
My concept of the future is grim
My favorite music is black and blue
I live all alone in a splendid shack
With vines and tendrils to enfold me
And animal comfort and companion
And trees and bushes surround me with density.
The sun can’t get in unless I let him
He is a man all golden and gleaming
With a blue eye for the morning
I am pale and wan and wanting
I settle for less than nothing
I wonder about my self-esteem?
I am a hopeless romantic it is spring
The fertile season of heat and germination
I’m too old for implantation and gestation
I’m giving birth to my own self being.
towards a structual proofing of the poem above
The Road Home
The road home
has many twists and turns
is icy sometimes and dangerous curves
steep climbs and no shoulder
to pull onto for rest.
The road home has no lighting
so you must learn the way by heart
memorize the feel of its surfaces
that change from craggy to smooth
or broken and gravelly.
You need to know the sounds
of the wheels turning over them.
If you don't understand these things
you'll never find your way back
you'll never be sure
though the road home is familiar
it is strange and new...
you need to listen for my call
at the front door.
DISHING OUT AT CHANNEL 4 JACKSONVILLE FLA
WW II intelligence officer
and Brilliant Poetry Professor
who taught and in-formed
among others FDW
and sd. to him at Drexel Univ.
in late 1974, "You may or may not be
a genius just keep to yr. poetry!"
PAINTER ABOVE THE CITY
From a balcony above the city he paints a late sun,
bright lights reflective among glass towers;
and sends them, his latest, by mysteries of email,
two, three at a time, surprisingly vivid, of which he says,
"The latest"; and I admire and laugh and blow them up,
remembering decades of canvases I've admired.
Portraits, guardian figures, and Japanese smut,
portraits of Andrea and me and suspicious bishops
are hung through the house, up and down steps;
then, ten years ago, landscapes appeared, full of crying
color and light, with a richness of Oaxacan hills
before builders came, before the world intruded.
Then back in the city where years add up and legs
might trip on steps that reach toward a new light,
and landscapes reach for a new peacefulness, colors
soften and distances are in some other world,
stretching with comfort that encourages me to fill
a room, where guests pause, sigh deeply and smile.
Then, finally, on that high balcony, without stairs,
as others carry younger loads, he can paint all day,
pausing to watch a late sun pull colors in sharp
reminders of other explosions, of other beginnings,
of explosions that might mean a beginning of life,
a new world to replace a flowing darkness of the past.
But something happens, the landscapes explode
in three new paintings that arrived just recently:
In a powerful balance of blacks and grays, red fire,
a bomb, shoots into the air, as if we were in Baghdad;
and in another, with a harmless title of 'first snow,'
in a world afterwards gray and silent, a black wreck.
In the third painting, reds in a dozen hues consume
remnants of a blackened world. I hold my breath
at what he has at eighty accomplished: a final warning
of what power can do to the world, a final hope of what
creative fire can do to burn its image of a wrathful Buddha
in everything he's ever seen, now seen from a quiet retreat.
COTTON FIELD BLUES
It was part of waking, to hear their voices singing
among groves below my grandmother's house,
with words I could not understand, a cry
of words, a cry to anticipate the day.
They climbed the hill, and I climbed from bed
and quietly ran to the porch to watch them pass,
their mules in polished leather, the sun still cool
over pecan trees, their voices deep.
A heavy voice rumbled about heavy clay,
not made, he sang, for play, as others made
a sound like drums and bells and pipes, the words
a blur of rhythms to lift with hope.
Melodious and sad, but full of strength,
they followed muddy paths and dropped the song
in ditches behind mules, unloaded knives
and hoes and hunkered to a sweaty task.
It was still too early for grits and eggs,
and so, before returning to my bed,
I went to greet my grandfather, sitting under
a peach tree in the garden, reading his bible.
The day would pass in a casual way, with walks
to town, a lunch and naps, perhaps a story
from Clara Mae, a song at the old piano,
and regular trips to the outhouse in the garden.
"We'll sing," our Granny said, and lifted her voice
in an imitation of the songs I'd heard
as they had climbed the hill. It wasn't the same;
it lacked the flame, the need. It was amusing.
But as sun went down, I heard voices,
much slower now, in a cracked sound of pain
as they left cotton fields and came down the hill,
just there, beyond a swing on the old front porch.
The mules were dragging and piled with bags
of cotton, the wagon creaked and swayed; as old men
chanted, a woman's voice rose high and sharp,
and children cried, but not a dog would bark.
"The day's done gone," a voice sang deep;
"The night's come on," another voice broke in.
The voices of the women trailed after,
"I say it ain't much further we got to go."
A voice from the house called us to supper, ignored
the mules and men who slowly passed and children
huddled behind a group of women who sang
their chant of pain that was tired of the day.
Later, as I lay in bed and listened
to a night of restless wind in trees,
a cry still lingered like a memory
of ghosts in a blue smoke: "Oh my, oh my….
"This cry's the song you hear when you hear the voice
that cries the notes that linger in your heart
that aches like the muscles in your back. Oh my.
Oh my…." It was the song I heard as I slept.
Can you hear it echo in the night
and bet against the failure of memory?
I woke that night with a sweat of apprehension,
squatted on the slop jar and slept again.
That was years ago, and sometimes I wake
and whisper to myself, "The day's done gone;
the dark's fallin' here for good. Oh my…;"
and then I hear the voices calling at dawn.
He listened to and watched that strange adult world as he grew up in Lakeland, Florida, during the thirties; and, with his grandfather’s help, he started writing poems, usually during summers in Savannah or Buena Vista, Georgia, where he was too sickly to play with athletic cousins. And since he was one of the few kids, back then, who played the piano well, a student at the age of 8 at Florida Southern College, he had a wonderful opportunity to play throughout central Florida and overhear women in Winter Haven and Lake Wales and men in Tampa and Orlando talk about the whispered sides of their lives. He would play Liszt after a luncheon meeting and rush home to write a poem about some slick man with polished nails or the woman who hissed that she never wore underwear.
During college at Washington and Lee and Princeton, where he could not tie himself to one major, and during a year in Europe on a Fulbright, he was a loner, watching and listening and trying to find ways to make verbal music out of human experience. He sat on mountain tops in Switzerland and listened to an echo of voices, slept in cheap youth hostels, fell in love with Australian girls and the Grand Canal in Venice, ate in the cheapest White-Russian cafés in Paris, and tried to write poems more up-to-date than Keats, who had been his first love when he was 12. And then, after a couple of years in the army where, stationed in D.C., he spent most of his time looking at paintings and writing about that, he hit thirty. And then he married and taught at Dartmouth and Drexel and had a family, two daughters, an equestrienne and a scholar, and found that poetry had to be relegated to summer vacations — though the poems kept coming anyway, even after he grew tired of trying to fit into ‘the literary scene,’ a scene that never worked for him except when he was dramatically reading his poems in bars and bookshops of Philadelphia.
pictures above by Andrea Baldeck
&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&& &&&&&&&&&& &&&&&
FRESH FROM THE MIND OF MIKE GROVER, A NEW SERIAL-POEM IN PROGRESS!!
the pictures below with Mike's piece are from and of Bhante Yogavicara Rahula while in india and thailand a few years ago, one of the Mahathera great teachers and preceptors at the BHAVANA SOCIETY forest monestery, High View, West Virginia.
In the streets of
The capital city
Patched saffron robe,
No shoes on his feet.
Empty purple stone bowl
In his hands for offerings.
He would go door to door,
Non discriminant of rich or poor.
Take clumps of rice in the bowl.
He would eat his meal,
This bowl of rice.
Return to his home
In the woods
Outside of the city.
Wash his feet,
Remove his robe,
Sit in his appointed seat.
On Huron Street
The homeless all look up
With sad, tired eyes.
I try to look each one
Right in the eye.
See if I can find
A Buddha somewhere.
I know he is somewhere.
I wonder how many pass him
Without even seeing.
[SENT FOR THE PEOPLE IN AN EMAIL DATED OCTOBER 18TH ]
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