musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the tag “poetry”

poem in one shot

 

It’s dark today. And wet.
But the greens and roses glow like living ghosts
refusing to give in.
The day is brooding and nostalgic,
Makes me think of springs to come and so many
that are imprinted like film negatives, carried with me,
For all my days, gathering wrinkled currents.

The wet lovely petals shining on the pavement
Of Commonwealth Avenue;
The sense of hope of the road before me
And all that was to come has come.
Some of it has gone, but so little, really.

I am full, my heart sings to the ghosts of hope
And it springs eternal,
The roses, the new green leaves glow.

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death of a poet laureate

Walter E. Butts, W. E. Butts, Wally. Old friend.

images

photo source, drunkenboat.com

New Hampshire’s Poet Laureate has passed with absolutely no fanfare. I can’t find an article in my google searching.

His Wikipedia has been updated, though no mention of how he passed.

In a way, this is fitting for a man who was very private while he publicly wrote from his deepest self.

When I first moved to Boston in the fall of 1989, I sought out poetry readings and found him sitting at a corner table upstairs at Green Street Grille/Charlie’s Tap in the Stone Soup Poets run by Jack Powers. Wally was among the first and most influential people I met there. Later, two other poets who also became big in my life joined him, and I eventually dubbed them The Triumverate. They helped me find my poetic voice, whittled it down for me, and made me laugh a lot in my early days in Boston as a poet. They were Peter Kidd and Bill Kemmett. I will always remember them affectionately, but mostly it was Wally.

Wally treated me like his daughter, and talked a lot about his love for his daughter with me, as she and I were about the same age. I got the feeling their relationship, at times, was estranged, but after a visit with her, his whole spirit would be lit up and his distinctive laughter would burst out of him like a bull honking during mating or an old crow signaling others of a roadside kill. Tears streamed out from behind his thick glasses when he laughed. Peter and Bill, along with Dick Martin and James de Crescentis and occasionally Vincent Ferrini or some another visiting poet would join them, and I was mesmerized. I spent more time at that table in the back even when Stone Soup moved to TT the Bear’s, with a bunch of middle aged and a couple of old men, than I did listening to the poets on stage. Though we did listen. They respected the younger poets, and enjoyed their progress. I just happened to bask in their experience and turn of words, and occasionally felt I could keep up with them, but probably mostly entertained them as a hubris filled 23-29 year old. It was they, and again, mostly Wally, who said I had what it takes.

And then I had kids and largely disappeared from the scene, and Wally moved up to New Hampshire, joining Peter Kidd at the base of the White Mountains, and our lives took divergent paths. Wally became became Poet Laureate, and I started focusing more on my kids and fiction and wound up being a ball hit off a bat from the Boston area to southern Virginia.

Life is strange and unexpected, but I found Wally again about a year ago, and we emailed briefly, promising to keep in touch. He sounded happy. Happier than I ever knew him. We didn’t really keep in touch.

Wally was one of the most sensitive souls I ever knew. He shared it with the world in his poetry. He wasn’t a complainer, he wrote his depths like no one else, and everyone could relate. I will always consider him my poetic father. And Peter and Bill, to a degree, too. but mostly Wally.

I was lucky to know them when I did.

In about 1991, I wrote this awkward poem to him, when he was about the age I am now: photo (7)

I knew he was going through some big stuff at the time, but didn’t know what. But it bore him down.

I leave this remembrance with one of his poems from the days I knew him, from his Chapbook on Igneus Press, The Required Dance:

How We Pray

We walk through a place
where men sleep in elegant cars,
and voices flutter onto the street
like magnolias across a lawn.
At the Baptist Church, women
sing “Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.”
My three year old child
wants to know what those people
are doing. I tell her this
is how we pray, and then the spirit has faith in its body.
That is why there is dancing.
A hymn demands we go to a mountain.
The gleam of sweating faces,
and rhythm of clapping hands
will take us there. Not poverty,
need for grace is what
we believe. My daughter,
rich from her mother’s country,
doesn’t notice her father lives poor,
but understands flowers rise
from the mouths of the forgotten.

 

Postlude

A dear old friend emailed this to me on April 8:

http://thisweekinraymond.com/walter-butts-poet-laureate-of-new-hampshire-p1688-131.htm

white throated sparrow

Jets fly overhead, blasting us with noise,
Rumbling our bones, and we tune that out, too.

But a birdsong, a flit, an unseasonal aah!
So tiny, so inconsequential
to starting the car and rushing about,
I cannot let it go.

Lately, I have tried, but an unfamiliar bird,
white stripe by his eye has crossed my path so many times,
as if to say, hello! I am here!
Don’t you want to know me?
So much so, that yes, yes I do.

In this age of instant gratification, I go searching on the internet,
And wish I knew where my ornithology book was,
wish I had to hunt through the library for Audubon’s giant tome,
lug the tome to a table and flip the illustrated pages,
smell the musty age of pages,
just to slow down a bit more because
don’t we need this?

Don’t we need to be wrong and curious,
don’t we need to stop, light up,
don’t we need to let go of this rubberband life
and be present for an hour, a minute, a day?

We live too much for our slow DNA souls
and a bird needs us to wink
And say hello, because he is singing
the universe’s song in our backyards.

We need to feel the breeze,
even in winter, blow through our hair,
not because we create a wake of it behind us,
but because we must live in it now
to know the world goes on without us.
We are not so important as a white throated sparrow.

I must stop, hear his cheery, melancholy
Old Sam Peabody, Peabody.
Old Sam Peabody, Peabody.

Because to take this moment,
this reminder to live,
to know joy and love in a birdsong, a flit,
is everything.

children’s book in the making?

The New Cat

We adopted a half grown black cat with a big fluffy tail.
He blinks his stunning green eyes so very pale –
A shadow with lights that beam out of his face,
He hovers in corners with hardly a trace.
Until he opens those eyes and blinks once or twice,
Then he swishes his puff tail at the sight of fake mice.

My girl is four and exclaims in high pitch, “He’s SO CUUUTE!”
And “He’s da cutest fing I’ve ever seen in my life! MEW!”
She slides right in and pulls him from the under the bed.
She hugs him and squeezes him, I’m surprised he’s not dead.
But he’s gentle, subtle, likely absolutely terrified –
Yet he behaves as a gentleman, distinguished and rarified.

He has not scratched her in attempts to escape,
Nor has he attacked her in defense against squishes so great.
He merely peers those green eyes around the room,
Seeks a good enough opportunity to zoom
From her arms, and the nape of her neck,
She squishes and squeezes him, loves him, aw heck.

Her goofy big brother is rough on him, too.
Ceiling thumps and bumps signal he’s doing it, too –
Diving under a bed, and grabbing the cat,
Dragging him, pulling him this way and that.
But when they get him out, pin him and hold him too close,
Scratch under his chin, he loves it, and purrs the most.

That cat just puts up with it, and acts very demure.
He gives up after a few wiggles, and begins to purr.
I’m not suggesting that you treat a cat in this way,
That anything is proper in the way that he stays
And just deals with the tough love that they give –
But my goodness, when they do, he lives!

The dog, hold on, is still kept across a barrier,
After all, Lucy is the Terrorizing Terrier.
We close ourselves in with cat, dog claws at the door.
Poor dog, she barks at us to love her some more.
She barks at the kitty, “Arf! Arf! I can smell you in there!
ARF! Sniff! Trailing down the hall is balls of your hair!”

Sasha the cat is regal, beautiful and sweet,
Don’t call him a girl though, or you just might get beat
By a four year old demon who cuddles to death,
And her brother, the hugger of furry adopted pets.
They love him so much, and frankly I do, too,
He’s the lovingest cat we ever had in this zoo.

 

Not a bad start, especially since I was supposed to be working on my novel manuscript today.

autumn haiku

Yellow leaf lays sun
on worn cabin porch step two
days windless mountains.

 

 

squeaky wheel

Poetry

Too long since I’ve poemed,
but this morning I saw a globe sunrise in the north.
It turned out to be a reflection,
the ceiling light in the kitchen window pane.
An illusion to muse by after
too long wandering in the wondering wilderness.

Only a little truth lives above, I have
stepped to practical steps around the kids.
A cup of coffee before the day, a hustle, a bustle
some seasons by moonlight, in that moonlight
sometimes daylight, sometimes halflight of storms,
I’ve been shuffling and dragging.
My body gets older, my mind gets foggy,
the earth rotates through light and dark.
Suddenly the days have carouseled the sun.
I was lost in orbit, a stationary mare.

Words dim elevator music at the dentist’s office,
in the grocery store, the labor room, and parent teacher conferences.

Love and heartbreak and ocean waves constant
unyielding beauty still walk with me through
practical steps. No sestinas,
a few improvised limericks and laughter
words clicking their heels, rolling their vowels
in the back of my mind like an old melody I could never cut loose.

Not anymore.

begonias

This is the first time I have tried to grow begonias.

I had heard legends of how temperamental and sensitive they are to grow. How they must be coaxed to grow, coddled, and reverenced to bloom.

Begonia growers I have known are selfish beasts who wish to keep this kind of beauty all to themselves, apparently.

There are begonias blooming under my begonias. I water them when I remember to do so, haphazardly.

 

Photo: begonias are blooming under the begonias!

 

They are as showy and layered as peonies and roses, but not nearly so delicate. Their petals are tough and waxy, solid, stolid, even.

They are Stevie Nicks, Imogen Heap.

No they are the Joan Jett of phanerogams. They are gorgeous, would ride a Harley, wear no perfume.

Begonias. Ah!

 

sparkle

The best man is like water. Water is good it benefits all things and does not compete with them. It dwells in lowly places that all disdain. This is why it is so near to Tao. ~Lao Tzu

By the Water

I will always live by water
It is more than a drink
A bath
A pool to swim in

Water sustains me
Reminds me
Its ebb and flow
Cove’s stillness
Ocean storm violence
Have been here much longer than I
Longer than any of us

The amoeba the shark
Even the desert scorpion
Would not be
Without a drop

But that’s too deep
Too unfathomable
Will drive me to distraction

I walk by shorelines
Lake River Bay Sound Ocean
I am alive
I am grateful for the peace
I find in the murmur
By the water

hoary frost


Hoar-Frost

In the cloud gray mornings 
I heard the herons Flying 
And when I came into my garden, 
My silken outer-garment 
Trailed over withered leaves. 
A dried leaf crumbles at a touch, 
But I have seen many Autumns 
With herons blowing like smoke 
Across the sky. 

Amy Lowell 

 

For those of you who know me, even a bit, you know my prior couple of days contained more mayhem than usual. More is to come. Changes on the horizon.

Hoary Frost

For now it is morning.
The frost sugars the grass and leaves.
Winter birds call to each other
and my little girl sings,
entertains herself with nonsense
that makes perfect sense to her.
Videogames punch and groan in the next room,
and a crayon scratches across paper,
across a plastic table’s roughed surface.

It is a November morning
like any November Saturday
that has ever come.
A little late and bright,
but early stillness reigns.
My warm coffee to my mouth,
traffic rolling by the big road
beyond the barer trees,
and my house reluctant
to remove the covers of sleep.

november rain

This is not a Guns & Roses song.

After five and a half years in southeastern Virginia, I have an enduring habit of comparing the seasonal weather changes to my lifetime of living and studying New England’s degrees of daily weather changes.

Some are monumental, a sudden ice storm overnight after a day when it was in the sixties. Some are so minute, it is the scent of an electro-magnetic charge in the atmosphere.

Yesterday, here in Virginia, a humid temperature hovered at eighty degrees. The leaves were more on the ground than trees from the prior days’ breezes.

This morning there is wet iron in the air. It finally feels like November to this old New Englander at heart.

Even the wisteria on the swing set is in mourning for the sun.

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