Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Into the Ordinary

This poem started as one thing and turned into something else. I seem to have a deep well of childhood and youthful memories that are suddenly clamoring to be articulated and shared. This development is extremely gratifying as I have carried them inchoate for many years with a strong desire to make poems of them.

An Ordinary Evening

I've washed my hands
about six times tonight
and brushed my teeth,
not rituals, just ordinary
ablutions on an ordinary night.
Now time to read before
sleep: a little poetry,
Henry James on the novel.
When I turn the light off
the heater will hum
like the car engine,
me lying in the back seat
watching lights smear
the windows, a few stars,
barely hearing the buzz
of voices on the radio.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wind From the Past

February Wind

Yes it does howl
even here this far
from the Plains
and my windows held
though my door rattled
until I shoved
a matchbook into the frame.

I finally slept
but some wind was still
moaning inside my head
and I woke up shivering
but not cold.

And I’m still thinking
about it days later
that wind brought
something back.

I am moving around
the rim of memory
looking in and back
and the wind,
the wind without end
blows across the tops
of the tall grass
and makes waves in
this endless inland sea.

Another unexpected memory poem. One more (for now) will follow this one.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Tree of Memory

I have been blessed by repeated visits from the Muse of late, bringing a new wealth of childhood memories. One result is this poem, also inspired by my immersing myself in the work of Charles Wright, in my opinion America's greatest living poet, whose wonderful recent reading at the Folger I was fortunate enough to attend, along with my lovely friend Naomi.


"I remember the way the mimosa tree buttered the shade
Outside the basement bedroom, soaked in its yellow bristles."—Charles Wright

I too remember mimosas
two of them in my grandparents’
yard the pink bottle-brush
blossoms helicoptering down
the almost-not-there scent
trailing and how I had to sweep
them off the driveway
or scrape them when
the rain glued them down
to the concrete
how hateful the labor
and how much would
I give to do it again
now as my grandfather
finishes mowing the lawn
after dinner and starts
the sprinklers and we go
inside for one last iced tea
cicadas burring the
evening air.

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