Two kitchen windows. They
Upon a narrow strip of lawn,
And bittersweet. Just after dawn
The air is sweet. The morning gone,
The day’s in flower, sun is out.
Dishes are washed, and drawings done,
And all the bustle and the brawn
Of commerce now has been withdrawn
As afternoon lies, soaking sun.
Lazy, languorous, open to
A blaze of red, the deepening blue --
A window with a larger view.
I watched her fingers
flashing in the sun
Over the paper, hovering just where
A letter to an old friend was begun,
Describing work she had before her, where
Some baby chicks behind the
coal stove warmed,
And butter made from cream, just pasteurized,
Was setting in thick yellow skins. When formed,
I churned it up till butter turned; surprised
To see her pen still
moving. Then, her ring --
One tiny brilliant diamond in green gold --
Reflecting on that pen. A magic thing,
These beams merged to create a compound mold
Of jewel and pen,
intriguing me; a call,
Before I could articulate or scrawl.
Pachelbel plays, as my good dentist drills
Decay away and fixes dental ills
That aggravate, but cannot heal the sum
Or even part of my pierced heart, struck dumb.
His soothing room holds light like pear liquor;
Pale amber, making everything a blur.
Each light ray shines; the art-filled walls grow dull
And dim the confines of each cubicle,
To grey the waiting room, fine books, the couch,
Meld them in squares, where coffee tables crouch.
I wish that withered hearts were quickly patched
As teeth can be—as hardwood, badly scratched,
Can soak up soothing oils to heal each burn;
When pain waits for us, everywhere we turn.
Water, transparent, green as jade,
Sand, which may someday turn to glass.
Grey lumpy rocks, in lined parade
Framed by some darkened damp sweet grass.
Plunging in waves, the skies invade—
Circuits of pastel; flaming brass.
Opaline rainbows fade to shade
Upon the water, green as glass.
I muse a lot on what has
Sweet scents, croquet upon the lawn,
Poems read, just at bedtime,
Words forming pictures, gliding rhyme.
A rabbit’s shadow on the
Formed by small hands—a pine, so tall
It scratches sound upon the porch—
Moon moths, a citronella torch;
A stretch of time, a quarter chime,
The hope my musings might combine
With hope for that bright future time
When all these things may fuse, align.
Pianos left her many years
She hasn’t sung in concert for a while,
Or cared to dress with any sense of style.
Her eyes are bad; she doesn’t read a lot.
This year, the snow took
much too long to go,
And her heart pondered those in double files
Who, armed with wily smiles, like crocodiles,
Lashed out their words as if they were buckshot.
Of all the many things she
tried to know,
A few stood out along life’s bumpy mile.
Like Caesar, as he traversed the great Nile
With Cleo, in a convoluted plot,
It was too much. She turned her eyes to truth
In beauty, which had solaced her from youth.
What a Wit is Worth
For John Whitworth*, poet
Oh, Whitman was a rhymer who enjoyed to play the part
Of complicating everything. It’s something of an art
To ramble on for pages on the pinprick of a thought,
Which makes word choice irrelevant, and form seem overwrought,
And chokes the flow of meter like a clot within the heart,
And leaves the scansion bumpy as an overladen cart.
Oh, you may paint your wheelbarrows as red as Commie traitors,
Make sure your plums keep cool and bland in sleek refrigerators,
And hope to Heaven you will cause great earthquakes and unease
Disturbing all the critics huddling roosted in the trees,
But Whitworth’s worth more half again than all the free verse clamor
That issued from that country boy whose hyperbolic stammer
Has branded modern poetry these hundred years or so.
So, now along the bottom road, as in arrears we go,
Feel sorry for poor poets blaring pompously, full blast—
And wave the flag for wit and humor—these things truly last.
*English poet John Whitworth passed away
in April of 2019. Among his other accomplishments his last book
was Joy in the Morning (Kelsay, 2016). He
also wrote a book about writing poetry—Writing
Poetry (A&C Black, 2001)—and was the
editor of the anthology Making Love to Marilyn Monroe: The Faber
Book of Blue Verse (Faber, 2006). Quoted on thehypertexts.com:
"I write in rhyme and metre because ... because that is what I do. That
is the way poetry presents itself to me. I can't write it any other way.
I'm not at all sure I would want to, but even if I did want to I
Bury A Poet
Some poets write, then publish
what is written—
Victorian ladies comment, are half smitten,
Close followed by those ones who count mistakes—
And in the end, well… all it ever takes
Is some old crank know-nothing with a grudge
To space out paragraphs of narrow sludge;
Bean-counting lists; more negative the better;
Word after word, to make one bitter letter.
these words are measured by
The blot upon the page, and all in sight
Join in the ruckus looking for a fight.
This fan club—harsh and brash—is on the rise,
To praise each other’s efforts to the skies.
The poet? Buried
in subservient lies.
He’s on his speaker; she’s talking on her phone.
He hears her clearly; she feels left alone
Beneath the surface of the deepest waves,
And strains to find the clarity she craves.
His sentences lack something at the end,
Then tidal pull returns them, lest the bend
Of that deep undertow of thought and sense
Might rise up and demand some recompense.
Those other people climbing in his car
Push him across the waves to take him far
Beyond the depths where she might care to go—
She isn’t sure how far, and must go slow.