Look back in anger

 

Madness.jpg

 

Ex

 

He seethes and rages

Coiling tightly like a ball

Of serpents

Every moment of happiness

She gets

Is a hot knife in

His gut

Every look she gives that

He           never           got

Every secret, knowing smile

Never his

Is a cold, wet slap to his barely shored up

Ego

Like winter waves against a crumbling pier

 

He imagines what they

Do

Together

She and this other             her

Deus ex machina

Whom she looks at in

That way

What has he got that makes her look at him

T h a t  way?

He scrolls downward through their

Endless

Happy

Moments

Wanting to

Break

Something

Wanting to take

Back

What escaped               his grasp

While his       eyes

Were on the mirror.

 

 

 

Words and image are my own.

 

©2017

 

 

 

They just stand back and let it all be

 

I had a job, I had a girl
I had something going mister in this world
I got laid off down at the lumber yard
Our love went bad, times got hard
Now I work down at the carwash
Where all it ever does is rain
Don’t you feel like you’re a rider on a downbound train

Springsteen, Downbound train

 

“The America of Poets”

The above phrase was coined by the poet and critic Randall Jarrell about New Jersey poet William Carlos Williams (1883 to 1963). Williams was, in my opinion, one of the greatest poets America has yet produced and he spent almost his entire life in the town where he was born (Rutherford NJ).

In that regard, he reminds me of another great New Jersey wordsmith writing in the American idiom, Bruce Springsteen whom, despite his frequent tours and travels, cannot quite seem to stray too far from the town of his birth for any great length of time.

That is not the only similarity the two great men share in common.  Both have used their work and talents to explore the minutiae of everyday peoples’ lives. The comedian John Stewart once famously said of Springsteen “When you listen to Bruce’s music, you’re no longer a loser, you’re a character in an epic poem… about losers”. This assessment could just as easily be applied to Williams.

The epic poem Paterson, written in five volumes over a period of twelve years, was Williams’ ode to that Northern Jersey city and its people. Joycean in its scope, Paterson is built around the modernist poet’s philosophy no ideas but in things.

I take this to mean that the seed is there in the commonplace situations and mundane moments of ordinary life, that there is no need to create grand poetical ideas; the poetry resides in the world around you.

An example of this can be found in his simple work The red wheelbarrow;

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

In focussing on the very ordinary, Williams allows us an in to the poetic beauty and simple grandeur of the everyday.

This sort of greatness in the small things approach has come to be a hallmark of Springsteen’s work also. There is a no ideas but in things element in songs such as My hometown:

I was eight years old and running with a dime in my hand
Into the bus stop to pick up a paper for my old man
I’d sit on his lap in that big old Buick and steer as we drove through town
He’d tousle my hair and say son take a good look around this is your hometown

Both men have been deeply touched by the lives of everyday folk and both have striven to express the simple nobility to be found in unremarkable lives. Williams, in his poem Pastoral, conveyed his admiration for those who can only abide:

Meanwhile,
The old man who goes about
Gathering dog lime
Walks in the gutter
Without looking up
And his tread
Is more majestic than
That of the Episcopal minister
Approaching the pulpit
Of a Sunday.
These things
Astonish me beyond words.

Both Williams and Springsteen were of mixed heritage (Springsteen Irish, Italian, and Dutch and Williams English, Dutch, and Spanish) and both have struggled with bouts of depression – a condition which, I believe, lends insight and compassion to the efforts of poets.

Williams was a not insignificant influence upon the beat poets and was mentor to Alan Ginsberg who, like Williams, hailed from Northern New Jersey. The beat poets were, in turn, an influence upon the very counter culture which, indirectly, birthed Springsteen.

I have found, in the works of both men, my personal entrée into the heart and soul of New Jersey; perhaps America as a whole. Certainly, as an immigrant coming to this land to build a new life, the America I am longing for is the America of Bruce Springsteen and William Carlos Williams.

William Carlos Williams is as magically observant and mimetic as a good novelist. He reproduces the details of what he sees with surprising freshness, clarity, and economy; and he sees just as extraordinarily, sometimes, the forms of this earth, the spirit moving behind the letters. His quick transparent lines have the nervous and contracted strength, move as jerkily and intently as a bird. ~ Randall Jarrell

 

 

©2017

 

 

 

This is the day

 

One life ending…

 

No rain will fall today

No tears of regret

For past mistakes

Nor painful memories

From distant skies

The sun will smile down upon

This circle of hope

Glint brightly from these rings of completion

There will be smiles

Tears

And shaky voices

As the ghost of the old school principal

Watches on from the windows

The banished spirit of past longing.

 

 

 

 

©2017

Getting better

 

IMG_1394.JPG

 

All things come

 

The culmination

Of 84,090,000 breaths

Waits for us

Just two sleeps hence

 

In the appointed place

At the appointed time

The red string that has entwined us

Will become the circle that binds us.

 

 

Words and image are my own.

 

©2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up the stairs

 

fire.jpg

 

Transubstantiation

 

Is it w o r t h y ?

This thing, this

Ritual

Little packets of self

Sent out in tiny boats across

The electronic sea

Declarations of a creative spirit

Valued perfunctorily in likes and follows

 

What’s it really w o r t h ?

Why should any care?

Weighed against the things that

Feel true, feel

Vital

The unswervingly loyal heart of a dog

For the one who chose it

The ceaseless sacrifice of the mother

For an ungrateful child

The courage of those who ran up the stairs

As others fled down them

And selflessness of those who brought the wounded in

Under fire

What weight do these words

These impressions from a singular perspective

Even have?

If a w o r t h y soul is as light as a feather

Then mere words are a cry in the vacuum

Everything that really matters

Can be expressed in

A single

Look

The most epic poetry

Is there complete in the moment two lovers’ eyes lock

And do not turn away.

 

 

 

 

Words and image are my own.