* knocking around with kenyon & meyers

The Suitor – Jane Kenyon

We lie back to back. Curtains
lift and fall,
like the chest of someone sleeping.
Wind moves the leaves of the box elder;
they show all their light undersides,
turning all at once
like a school of fish.
Suddenly I understand that I am happy.
For months this feeling
has been coming closer, stopping
for short visits, like a timid suitor.

*

box elderIn the poem above, I’m moved by the way things knock into each other in the scene described, and how that knocking mirrors how the poem is working structurally. The lyric momentum here swings between the three “likes” in the poem. Each one is a simile of life: a person sleeping, a school of fish, a timid suitor.

The specificity of each, however, is what makes their presence move beyond image and metaphor. The whole poem moves through them: the suggested breath of “someone sleeping”knocks into the next line about the wind; the fish “turning all at once” turn in such a way that they knock like the mind of the speaker’s sudden understanding; and then the ending pushes things into a further understanding of silence and resilience.

This short lyric brought to mind this haiku by Bert Meyers:

I can only laugh
when my daughter spreads her arms
to catch the cold wind

Both poems, for me, reflect a bit of what this time of year feels like. May is like a hinge between spring and summer, and you can hear the seasons’ doors creaking on the leaves.

Happy creaking!

José

* walking ash with bert meyers

The Poets – Bert Meyers

There he sat among them
(his old friends) a walking ash
that knows how to smile.
And he still dreamed of a style
so clear it could wash a face,
or make a dry mouth sing.
But they laughed, having found
themselves more astonishing.

They would drive their minds
prismatic, strange, each wrapped
in his own ecstatic wires,
over a cliff for language,
while he remained to raise
a few birds from a blank page.

abstract-219736_960_720
* spot the heart & ohio in the ash *

This continues to be one of my favorite Bert Meyers poems. Not only does it contain the characteristic Meyers’ eye for images capable of performing their own narrative while adding to the poem’s (“a walking ash/that knows how to smile”) but there is also something prayer-like to the focus of the lyric.

Through telling the story of one of “the poets,” the poem presents two sides and approaches to poetry. One side is that of the “he” who “dreamed a style/so clear it could wash a face,” while the other side is that of the other poets who “drive their minds/prismatic.”

In describing both sides, the speaker speaks in the clear manner that is dreamed of by the “he,” and does so with the effortlessness that is the opposite of the “prismatic” poets. When the poem gets to its last line, I can’t help but believe in the “few birds” rising from the poem before me.

Next week will bring me to back to my hometown, Corpus Christi, Texas for readings at Del Mar College and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. I’m really looking forward to these readings. It’ll be the first time in over 10 years that I’ll be reading in my hometown and I’m excited to share the work I’ve done so far. I’ll be reading from Everything We Think We Hear along with selections from the chapbooks. Here’s the info:

*)Wednesday, March 9th 2016 Del Mar College, White Library, Room 514: Reading & Book Signing 11am

*)Wednesday, March 9th 2016 Del Mar College, White Library, Room 514: Open Mic feature 7pm

*)Thursday, March 10th 2016 Texas A&M University Corpus Christi: Opening Reader for Laurie Ann Guerrero 7pm

I’ll also be spending the afternoon doing a talk/reading at Foy H. Moody High School the Friday of next week.

I’ll be reaching out to folks on Facebook but feel free to contact me if you have any questions: thefridayinfluence@gmail.com

*

Happy ashing!

José

* paying tribute via Bert Meyers

I recently lost a friend of mine – at the same time that a few other people I know also lost people close to them.

For this week’s post, I thought I’d offer a poem by the great Bert Meyers.

Though about a specific person, I feel the sentiment speaks for many.

For W.R. Rodgers – Bert Meyers

I knew a candle of a man
whose voice, meandering in a flame,
could make the shadows on the wall
listen to what he said.
Time flowed from a vein that ran
its blue crack through his pale forehead.

He’s done.  You’d need a broom
to arouse him now.
All things burn before they’re dead.
Some men are words that warmed a room.

***

Happy warming!

Jose

* hello to November via Bert Meyers

When She Sleeps – Bert Meyers

When she sleeps I rise.
The naked light bulb burns
And makes the moths outside
Beat against the screen.
A moth comes out of me.
It flies to the light,
Then staggers back in pain
To rest in me again.
She sleeps and holds her peace,
Though I’m consumed by this.

* one pretty moth-er *
* one pretty moth-er *

Having written a poem in which a moth speaks to me of light, this poem had an immediate appeal for me.  But here the moth comes out of the man – a man who is awake and consumed.

And writing – by writing consumed.

In other news, I am happy to report that autumn is here in full rain and wind and leaves – leaves, some of which, look like the moth above.

Happy first day of November!

Jose

* bert meyers, poems in pockets, and update

Evening on the Farm – Bert Meyers

 

Time for a jacket now,

and to put my hands away.

 

I must learn from the stars

how a field should look.

 

But one by one, bright children,

the stars rush downstairs

 

to meet my horses and hay

with an astonished eye.

 

***

Tomorrow is Poem in Your Pocket Day and I have taken it upon myself to pass out poems to my co-workers.  I have selected who gets what in terms of their respective astrological signs (told you I was a geek).  Seeing as I don’t work with any Pisces, and I simply marvel at the poem, I am choosing the above as my selection.

The late Bert Meyers was a master of images.  His collected poems, In a Dybbuk’s Raincoat, is essential for anyone who enjoys not only great images but solid lyric poetry.  As Denise Levertov points out in her introduction:

“It is a mark of the most profound poetic instinct to comprehend, in the act of making poems, the degrees of analogy: and so to avoid muffling the perception of coalescence, which demands metaphor, with the word ‘like’; or, on the other hand, failing to note resemblance with the appropriate figure of speech, simile…Meyers’ intuition in this…seems to have been faultless.”

You see this mastery in the lines above: how easily “bright children” is followed by “stars” tumbling downstairs, all of it leading up to that “astonished eye” at the end, the words evoking an image through sheer magnetism it seems.

***

In other news, the open mic was a bust.  Nuff said.

I have, instead, taken to reading aloud the Rimbaud I’m in the middle of.  It’s colorful, to say the least.  We’ll see if it helps.  Here are some choice lines of his that took me back to dark times in Texas:

I made up rhymes in dark and scary places,

And like a lyre I plucked the tired laces

Of my worn-out shoes, one foot beneath my heart.     (from “Wandering”)

***

What will be in your pocket?

J