Friday, December 30, 2005

I Didn't Say WHICH Monday...

Okay: when we left off, I was headed upstate and into Oregon; specifically Coos Bay. The trouble with going places that are somewhat remote is that they are, well, somewhat remote. So Internet turned out to be a problem. I'll spare you. I'm back. Thanks for your patience, and I hope your Christmas was jolly enough.

It did frustrate me, though, because I had all sorts of quasi-holiday poetry picked out and lugged up there. So let's salvage some of it. Mary Zeppa loaned me Archie Ammons' last book of poetry, Bosh and Flapdoodle:

—A.R. Ammons

Fall fell: so that's it for the leaf poetry:
some flurries have whitened the edges of roads

and lawns: time for that, the snow stuff: &
turkeys and old St. Nick: where am I going to

find something to write about I haven't already
written away: I will have to stop short, look

down, look up, look close, think, think, think:
but in what range should I think: should I

figure colors and outlines, given forms, say
mailboxes, or should I try to plumb what is

behind what and what behind that, deep down
where the surface has lost its semblance: or

should I think personally, such as, this week
seems to have been crafted in hell: what: is

something going on: something besides this
diddledeediddle everyday matter-of-fact: I

could draw up an ancient memory which would
wipe this whole presence away: or I could fill

out my dreams with high syntheses turned into
concrete visionary forms: Lucre could lust

for Luster: bad angels could roar out of perdition
and kill the AIDS vaccine not quite

perfected yet: the gods could get down on
each other; the big gods could fly in from

nebulae unknown: but I'm only me: I have 4
interests—money, poetry, sex, death: I guess

I can jostle those....


—A.R. Ammons

I guess old men aren't really good for nothing:
they can cuddle, shuffle, and look

about for where it all went: harmless, they
are attractive, gently innocent, on park benches

or subways, or on the slow side of streets:
women are reassured by them; they are witnesses

without danger, guardian angels: out of the
game, earnings free, they are what they earned

before: they hardly compete at all: their toothless
mouths need no upkeep, no reconstructions,

no root canals or extraordinary measures:
it doesn't matter if their piss-burnt pants

stiffen up or if they seldom shave or use much
hot water: they are wonderfully inexpensive:

unless, of course, something goes wrong: they
just hang out on corners or in alleys, useless,

apologetic, inexcusable, supernumerary,
invisible among the seeing: what good is a mess

of stuff on its way out, nearly out: get on
out, you might say, you're taking up room:

but old men are good examples to the young of
what becomes of things: working, loving,

buying, living the dynamics, many can look
down the steep gradient of the slope to where

the rubbish edges the river and then reaffirmed
they can look back into the lights and run

along to do their parts: when I started this
piece, I intended under the guise of praise

to pour the world's comtempt on old men, but
I wasn't clever enough to modulate it gradually

the way, say, Shakespeare moves easefully
through changing weathers: but at times, old

men will look up at the world, raise an eyebrow
and smile a small smile hard to read.


—A.R. Ammons

The people of my time are passing away: my
wife is baking for a funeral, a 60-year-old who

died suddenly, when the phone rings, and it's
Ruth we care so much about in intensive care:

it was once weddings that came so thick and
fast, and then, first babies, such a hullabaloo:

now, it's this that and the other and somebody
else gone or on the brink: well, we never

thought we would live forever (although we did)
and now it looks like we won't: some of us

are losing a leg to diabetes, some don't know
what they went downstairs for, some know that

a hired watchful person is around, some like
to touch the cane tip into something steady,

so nice: we have already lost so many,
brushed the loss of ourselves ourselves: our

address books for so long a slow scramble now
are palimpsests, scribbles and scratches: our

index cards for Christmases, birthdays,
Halloweens drop clean away into sympathies:

at the same time we are getting used to so
many leaving, we are hanging on with a grip

to the ones left: we are not giving up on the
congestive heart failure or brain tumors, on

the nice old men left in empty houses or on
the widows who decide to travel a lot: we

think the sun may shine someday when we'll
drink wine together and think of what used to

be: until we die we will remember every
single thing, recall every word, love every

loss: then we will, as we must, leave it to
others to love, love that can grow brighter

and deeper til the very end, gaining strength
and getting more precious all the way....


Glad to be back. May we continue to hang onto each other with a grip...


Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their poetry and announcements of Northern California poetry events to for posting on this daily Snake blog. Rights remain with the poets. Previously-published poems are okay for Medusa’s Kitchen, as long as you own the rights. (Please cite publication.)