Quite the interesting mag back in the day. This particular issue saw the likes of Bukowski, Ivan Arguelles, Lyn Lifshin, Norm Moser, Sheila E. Murphy, and, well, me, among others. I was thinner back then, as was my poetry.
Due to planned festivities, I’ll not have time for regular updates this week. Instead, I’m reposting some favorites. The following was first posted in January 2014.
Originally published in 1987 in a short-lived publication called The Balcones Review, “Uccello” is the opening of a longer work. Today, as I look out my window at that same tree, I hear the birds, no longer silent.
the wind is what
desires to say
collapsing into itself
like a bud
to the seed
the birds in my tree
before their brief
in the leaves
is not only what
as the candle
or a moment
is of clarity
I built a frame
nothing in it
quietly as if
only silence or
the familiar embrace
The formatting isn’t right, so I’ve provided a pdf of how the poem should look. It might be interesting to compare the two.
This was one of my first posts, from just over a year ago. Thought I’d give it another whirl – it originally appeared in 1986, in SPSM&H, a publication devoted to sonnets. It’s interesting to look my writing from this period. Some pieces seem to have been written by a stranger, long ago and far, far away. This one somehow seems closer.
I built a frame of apricot
wood. This was for you. The clouds float
through it even as I sleep. You wrote
once of wild herbs gathered and brought
to a lovely girl, an offering not
of passion but of some remote
desire to hear a word from the throat
of the Lord Within Clouds. I thought
of this as I chiseled the wood.
Last night it rained. I listened to
it from my bed by the open
window, hoping that the clouds would
not leave. This morning two birds flew
by. It is raining again.
I was a military brat. My return to the U.S. after attending high school in Italy was, well, interesting. Junction City, Kansas was definitely not bella Napoli. This poem came from that experience, albeit a few years after, and was published in the mid-80s in the Allegheny Review, a national journal of undergraduate creative writing. It’s a flawed piece, and doesn’t resemble today’s work at all, but I think the kid who wrote it still exists. Somewhere.
Letter from Kansas
Driving the stretch to Junction City,
I look for familiar faces in the cars
we pass, but see only strange grasses
gliding by. Three weeks ago
I slept on a stone-littered hilltop
overlooking the Bay of Naples.
Now the prairie laps at our front door.
A mile from the house two corralled bison
munch dull hay thrown daily
from a truck’s flat bed, and past that
the Discount Center’s sign
spells America. What I wouldn’t give
for a deep draught of Pozzuoli’s
summer stench and the strong
yellow wine that Michele’s father
makes. We mixed it with the gardener’s
red, creating our own bouquet,
remember? And here they say
I’m too young to buy beer and wine.
Without them the food is flavorless,
like the single language spoken.
I understand it all,
and miss the difficulty. Maybe Texas
will be better. Ci vediamo. Bob
This was one of my first posts on the blog, and as you might expect, very few people saw it. I wrote the poem in the summer of 1983, when I was new to poetry, still tentative, exploring. A few weeks later I attempted the sonnet form, and, well, everything changed. Everything.