For Want of a Poem


Sometimes, I want a poem. A Bukowski can be so easy, but seldom sweet or relaxing. Or maybe something by Auden, Oliver, Kaur, Bloch, or Hughes. Or a Tony Hoagland piece about the word dickhead or a barbeque with friends. A Billy Collins poem is usually more of a clean-cut, smooth-spoken, New York laureate who smiles while staring out windows.

The right poem is like a cool glass of clean water, one you don’t know you need until you drink it. So, refreshing; may I have another?

Music helps but poetry works. I read slow and silently. I may move my lips. Maybe I’ll read the poem out loud to hear it in my voice. Or I’ll listen to poems read by one of the great poetic pros. Men with rich rhythmic baritone or base voice tones like Morgan Freeman, Tom O’Bedlam, James Earl Jones, or Johnny Cash. Maybe I’ll hear the fun wrangler sound of some cowboy poet. Or the attractive Brit accents of Sirs Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins, or Patrick Stewart.

Please spare me the stoic, boring, cackling of electronic automatic computer-generated readings by unconscious semi-robots. Why do they do that? It is poetry. Speaking of dickhead decisions. Just no. I can’t!

When I don’t know what’s wrong with me, or what I need, or what I want, the right poem helps.

Sometimes we need to share darkness or a sad bit of life. It’s comforting that while we may be alone, we are not the only ones feeling lost.


Look both ways for refuge from the storms.
Mind the gaps. Ignore the dickheads.
Wear a mask and get the shot.

Epistolary Poetry: Some Writer’s Thoughts (NaPoWriMo day 11)

Today’s NaPo’s challenge was to write a two-part poem as an exchange of letters. The first stanza, part, or poem was to be the letter-poem that I wrote to someone. The second part, the letter I received in response. The length, form, and subject matter were to be of my choosing.

I wrote one letter to two men, George Carlin, and Johnny Cash. Each answered separately. Cash used a poem he wrote 18 years ago.


Dear Messrs. Carlin and Cash,

I am sometimes compared to George,
but seldom to Johnny Cash.
I love music and humor, especially
the more cerebral, sarcastic jokes
of George’s accompanied by adult language.
Every day, I listen to Mr. Cash recite the poem,
The Cremation of Sam McGee
as part of my playlist. All three of us spent
time in the Air Force, although the length of time
and conditions of departure differ. I like
to write. I know that both of you considered
yourselves writers. But you were better known
in other professions, which was how I found you.
If this letter gets to you (I’m told you died),
please give me advice about my writing.
You can see it on my blog.

Regards (I miss you both), Bill

***

Dear Bill,

I asked around about you. I learned that, like me, you were raised in the Catholic faith and attended parochial school, but now you’re out of all that. A synonym for parochial is narrow- or closed-minded. Never forget that. You’ll never get over it. You are not like me. So, don’t worry. We have no wifi or computers or cell phones here, but no matter. If you want to write just do it. Fuck what anyone else thinks. Remember, both the man in black and I had our stage personas and our real acts. Recall also that I loved the live performances. I can’t speak for Johnny, but I bet he did too. Holy shit, he did concerts for prisons. Oh, you have a lot goin’ on. Enjoy it all man, for as long as you can.

Best of Luck, Old Man.
George

***

Hey Mister Bill,

Don’t cha just love writing poetry? I did for sure.
Songs too, but it’s all about the same stuff.
I’m gonna give you my answer as a poem
I wrote back in 2003, Called “Forever.”

“You tell me that I must perish
Like the flowers that I cherish
Nothing remaining of my name
Nothing remembered of my fame
But the trees that I planted
Still are young
The songs I sang
Will still be sung”*

Good luck to ya, Sir. And
God bless….Johnny

*Poem “Forever” by Johnny Cash from Forever Words: The Unknown Poems.


Look both ways and try to accept what help you can get.
Mind the gaps and truth behind the masks.

Poetry: The Late Train (NaPoWriMo day 8)

Edgar Lee Masters’ 1915 book, Spoon River Anthology, consists of poetic monologues, each spoken by a dead person buried in the fictional town of Spoon River.

My day eight NaPo prompt/assignment was to read a few of Masters’ poems, then write a poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead.


“Good morning America how are ya?” *
I’m J. R. Cash but call me Johnny.
I been a singer ‘n writer of songs all my life.
I wrote poems, too. Not no more though.
Paul and John Carter made a book
sometime after I moved out here.
I made lists of do’s and don’ts,
like who to kiss and who not.
Rockabilly, I walked the line in
more than one ring of fire.
Sue was a joke, Jackson was not. Either way,
I was the man in black, or undertaker was okay.
The Hag caught my San Quentin show. He signed up.
I was inside less than him. Now, I’m back with Jack
on the orange blossom special.
How ‘er my pals from Bitter Tears doing?
Ya know, that Lonesome Dove fellow?
He just hopped on this train.
“And often I say, No more I do it/
But I miss the traveling/And I miss the songs.” **

***

*From The City of New Orleans written by Steve Goodman, covered by many.
**Quotation from Cash’s poem, “My Song,” in Forever Words: The Unknown Poems.

Notes: ‘Paul’ Muldoon edited Forever Words. ‘John Cater’ Cash is his son. ‘Jack’ refers to his brother who was killed in an accident at a young age. ‘Hag’ refers to Merle Haggard.


Look both ways when you cross memory lane.
Mind the gaps well, or a song you might miss.