DISCOVERING ART, ARTISTS

It’s taken me this many years, in my mature age

To understand, and, more, to enjoy Shakespeare

For in my younger years, I couldn’t, didn’t

I look forward to the delight in store for me

As play by play, I will open the heavy, leather volumes

Of Shakespeare in my home library

 

I recall, in my youth, my delight

As symphony by symphony, I discovered Beethoven

I recall my sadness, when there were no more symphonies to discover

Symphony by symphony, I had heard them all

Though I can still listen to them time and again

 

I recall, in early manhood, my delight

As novel by novel, I discovered Hemingway

I recall emulating Hemingway’s characters, Hemingway

As I was young, and searching for an identity

 

I recall, also in early manhood, my awe

As I viewed paintings in museums

That I had previously seen only as prints in books

And I could, can, view them time and again

 

So all these years, these good years

Bring me to the doorstep of Shakespeare

And like an eager youth, I anticipate

The delight in store for me

As play by play, I open the heavy, leather volumes

Of Shakespeare in my home library—

A surprising boon bestowed on my advanced years

A MOTHER’S LIFE

My mother’s life is and was

All giving

My creator, an image of my Creator.

Her very blood infused into my veins

She has made a home and a life for me

In my weakness, she was strength

In my want, she was plenty

In my soul, my mind, my aspirations

My mother’s heart is poured into mine

In our differing visions, or visions shared

My mother was there

Supporting, condoling, celebrating

Much of me is not her

Much of me is her

It matters not

She gave, gives

A mother’s life is and was

All giving.

WILDFLOWERS

We love to see a meadow of wild flowers

And take delight in sweet pea, bluebell, pansy

But if we try to pick and hold their beauty

We find they fade and wilt in only hours

 

Still after we have placed them in a vase

We love their delicate pedals and scent

Like flowers, time with friends is only lent

Though beauty in friendships gives life grace

 

And we love it when our friends are nearby

But time with friends tends to be uncertain

If long or short, impermanence is certain

People change; in time we’ll say goodbye

 

Buddhists say that joy in friend or lover

Still is dukkha, suffering or grief

I see the transient nature of all life

Yet still take joy, delight, and pleasure

As it is in friendship, love, or flower

IN THE PEAK OF COVID-19

What was that I needed to get done today?

Well, nothing really—I can barely remember

When they shut us down, shut down my ambition

–“I have to what?!”—”Do what?!”–

That mandated sloth that tells me stall, stop

So I slouch upon my couch, and pass time

At times, I take the time to touch base

With a treasured book—which I never would have

Chasing time filled with needless activity

Chasing a job, a dollar, more money

No money and nothing to spend it on—

I would go to the mall, the bookstore, the casino

And with a home library filled with good books

I never did read, read now—sometimes

When I can find the incentive

And my poems that I organize to send out

Re-read, fix, edit,–search out publishers

When I can’t find the incentive

And just slouch upon the couch

And watch TV that I don’t like

Don’t like not doing what I want to get done

This mandated sloth, this slovenly lost ambition

Not even waiting for it all to be over

Just waiting on time, making time, taking time, time to get something done

Plenty to get done today, and nothing, really

MUSINGS ON MUSIC

Music isn’t just pretty sounds, a pulse

Rock isn’t just a distorted guitar

Blues isn’t just a 12-bar form

Music should strike fire from the heart, so said Beethoven,

Music is poetry of the soul, heart and soul

Soul music, the existence of the soul

Touched by fire, music is a living thing

Life-giving, live or recorded, alive through ages

Living with individuals through life, through aging,

In youth or age, youth and age

Peasant and king hear the same music, so say the Chinese

Pounding through the heart, hearing, heard with soul

Existence of the soul, sounds’ salve, alive

Conducted through electricity in the brain

Singing through synapses in the soul

Symphony of the senses sent from on high

Humans sang before they spoke,

The lilt of language’s inflections

Performances perfecting the human condition

Culture, cultivation, culmination of the muse’s calling

Meaning so much more than pretty sounds, a pulse

MANIFESTO

Blessings rarely fall upon creativity,

The blessed gift that gives blessings to the world

Would that all God’s people were prophets

Business demands compliance to management

Academia demands conformity to pedagogy

The workers and scholars who meet success

Want creativity, don’t want creativity, wanton creativity

Constrained in a cage, the wings of creativity chafe

But soaring flights of fancy ill bear containment

Even at peril, wings flex their wits

Affront establishment, norms, aesthetic strictures

Flout trends, tradition, transmission of style

Interested only in release of the muse, manifestation

Fractious under pressure to demur to stricture, structure

Nature knows no other course

And must be itself, be it bless or curse

Knowing blesses only at happy realizations of muse

The which only creative natures nurture

Must manifest, make, make known, appear, make apparent

A LITANY

The Keepers of intellectual trends hold apparent power

And to make it, some are slaves to the Keepers’ fashion

I am a free man to my own muse

I am a priest who intones the litany:

 

Blake was a free genius, self-published,

And died in literary obscurity

Until T. S. Eliot gave him a name

Shelley knew, “Nor fame, nor power, nor love, nor leisure”

Whom all English students now study

Though F. Scott knew fame and wealth,

Gatsby didn’t even sell out its first printing

And F. Scott never knew the book as all high school students do

They suppressed Hemingway’s Pulitzer

They fiercely debated whether Frost were a poet, Wyeth a painter

The Impressionists showed in the Exhibition of Rejects

And Moreau, in the National Paris Salon

Pollock had his 10 years, before his suicide

Mozart died unknown, unsung

 

We can’t give our contentment to the Keepers

It rests in the beauty of our art manifesting,

In the pen of the writer alone with paper or laptop screen,

And a  happy finished project

In the living-room, study, or dorm room

With, or without, the blessing of the Keepers

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