Queen of hearts

 

Hand to hold

 

At the denouement

We peer from our high bluff

Looking back

Upon all we bore

The deep black nights

And bleary red mornings

Seeing in this moment how the p a t i e n c e

The crazed commitment

With    no    certain hope of reward

Somehow

Miraculously

Paid off

Knowing that

Though we were insane to believe

In the h a n d we held

The universe saw our insanity

And    raised the ante

And on a

bluff

We snatched the pot.

 

 

Words are my own.

 

 

©2017

 

 

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When it don’t come easy

 

Proof of life

 

I’m a poor poet, you say

And I must agree

I’m poor in more ways than one

Impoverished in my talents

And my pocket

Should I choose to be morose over this

When there is so much music in words?

So much that can be sensed

Felt

If not quite

Expressed

It’s enough to keep me on the trail

Of that perfect, fleeting moment

That singular combination

Of words and cadence

Which might prove

Beyond doubt

That I

Exist.

 

 

 

Words are my own.

©2017

Fall on me

 

Looking past the drops on my window

 

Old man out walking in the rain

Your jutting chin protruding way

Way out

Past the bill of your flat cap

Good thing you thought to bring your brolly

Else that chin would be a waterfall.

 

 

Words are my own.

 

©2017

 

 

Appetite For Destruction

 

 

tangle2.jpg

 

Damned dirty ape

 

He walks upright with

A genius for chaos

A master in the arena

Of destruction

The naked ape

Who developed an opposable thumb

To better grip his gun

And project the worst part of his nature outwards

Project the worst part of his nature outwards

At 60 rounds per second.

 

Words and image are my own.

 

©2017

 

 

Synchronicity

 

 

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Noun: synchronicity

  1. The relation that exists when things occur at the same time

  

   I’ve always experienced a lot of synchronicity in my life. It comes and goes like the ocean tides. Often it manifests in small seemingly insignificant things like, for instance, a few weeks ago, I mentioned to Jersey girl that as much as I enjoyed the American beers I’d sampled, I had yet to find ‘the one’, a beer that I could think of as my old faithful as it were.

   That conversation took place on the day I wrote this piece in which I reference Frost’s The road not taken with its famous lines;

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
   That very afternoon, while perusing some of my favourite blogs, Frost’s poem came up again (sadly, I neglected to bookmark the blog and can’t remember now whose it was).
Then, later that evening, we stopped off at the liquor store where I came across this little gem.
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I, of course, had to give it a try and yes, it is now ‘the one’.
   As I said, a small thing but still noteworthy. I treat synchronistic moments like these as signposts which tell me if I’m on the right path and headed in the right direction.
   My most recent piece of synchronicity also revolved around a poem (and a lyric, though, sadly not a beer). I had just finished writing the text of my blog post on William Carlos Williams and was looking for a title and song to go with it (I generally take the blog title from the accompanying song clip rather than the piece itself – just a strange quirk of mine).
   I’d included several quotes from poet and critic Randall Jarrell in the piece and, as the post was also about Springsteen, decided to use his song Jungleland to accompany the piece.
I wanted to use the lyric The poets down here don’t write nothin’ at all as the title for the piece but had a feeling I’d already used it in a previous post.
   I went back to find it and, sure enough, I had used it on this piece essentially about my relationship to poetry. In the post, I reference the poem The Death of a Ball Turret Gunner – a piece that had had a strong impact on me in my youth – by none other than Randall Jarrell.
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   In a sense, the two posts were spiritual kin and yet, I’d had no idea until that moment that the Jarrell I’d been quoting in the one had penned the poem in the other.
   There are lots of little synchronistic threads woven into this larger one. For instance, Jarrell wrote two children’s books which were illustrated by Maurice Sendak. And Sendak wrote the very first book I ever borrowed from a library, Where the wild things are. That book’s visual style was a massive influence on my future interest in illustration.
   Even the fact that Williams and Robert Frost both died the same year I was born (just a month before, in Williams case) seems synchronistic to me. Actually, several of the people I would come to admire chose the year I was born to depart this existence; Kennedy, C S Lewis, Aldous Huxley – all three on the same day mind you, Patsy Cline, Jean Cocteau, and Édith Piaf.  All died that year.
   I don’t know what broader significance any of that might have, but I can say that the knowledge of it has shaped my world view in small ways and large.
Words and images are my own.
©2017

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