Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Hanged Man



"House of the Hanged Man" by Paul Cezanne


the hanged man

All hallows eve is here,
and no children's voices
can be heard on the veranda
or porch of the manor.
We reside too far from the
comfort of other residences,
and the kiddy ghosts, rock
stars, and super heroes stay
away;

but the hanged man stands
haggardly behind me in the
kitchen, part of the rope still
around his gray neck, a piece
of it dangling like a winter
scarf, pointing to the front
yard where he ended his
sad life, but forgot to leave.

Glenn Buttkus

Halloween night, 2010.


Tarot image by Liz Hilton.
Dedicated to Tess Kincaid, mistress of Willow Manor.


Would you like to hear the author read this poem?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Tooth

Image borrowed from Yahoo


The Tooth

He took the screwdriver to the sink in the kitchen, washed it thoroughly in hot water with a lot of soap, and washed his hands. He carried it back to the bathroom, walking quietly, trying to step around the spots where the floor creaked so he wouldn’t wake her. He pulled the door closed.

The tooth was all the way in the back, a wisdom tooth that had come in crookedly. Watching himself in the mirror, he stuck the screwdriver in his mouth, the warm metal slipped in and touched the swollen jaw around the edge of his tooth. He couldn’t see well enough in the mirror, even if the tooth wasn’t so far back, the screwdriver was in the way.

With his tongue, he guided the flat head of the screwdriver to the edge of the tooth. Still watching himself in the mirror, he pushed on the handle, trying to slip the tip of the screwdriver between the jaw and the tooth. He saw himself wince, pushed hard before he could think about it, and bit down on the thin shaft of the screwdriver to stifle a moan.

His eyes in the mirror looked nervous, scared. He pushed again, trying to lever the tooth out, and felt the handle slip. The screwdriver jerked into the space where his cheek met his jaw, stabbed him in the tender flesh there. He spit the screwdriver out into the sink, followed by warm spots of blood, and cupped his jaw, afraid to wince. He studied his cheek in the mirror to see if he’d poked through and saw that he hadn’t.

He lowered himself onto the toilet and rocked back and forth on the cold porcelain, holding his jaw. After a moment, he remembered to listen whether he’d woken her in the other room, but he couldn’t hear anything except the throbbing in his mouth. He glanced at his watch. The dentist appointment was in two days. Really what he needed was something smaller, maybe the bit from the electric screwdriver. But it would be a little while before he could try that.

He rose, spit into the sink and rinsed his mouth off, then sat back on the toilet, shifting his weight from where he’d warmed it until he felt its coolness on the skin of his legs again.

C.L. Bledsoe

Posted over on Full of Crow

Bledashh of Bangladore

Image borrowed from Bing


Bledashh of Bangladore

On the fourth day of the quest
for the priceless ivory opromi,
the detective carefully opened the
yellowed versiono, scrutinizing only
the red coness symbols that were dotted
strategically on the maze of streets,
alleys, and landmarks.

He had traveled to darkest Kajurie
against the advice of his brother,
and at this juncture accepted his own folly,
responding a tick too late as the tall stranger
in the fur tawnhat launched a silver barbed
twipe at his head.

Tingling with alacrity, he did twitch
and the ninja star slashed only
his left ear lobe, passing him hotly
as it thwacked deep into the Ingelesi pillar
behind him.

This bold actio conveyed its lethal message
uncluttered with innuendo as he drew his
nickel-plated Houss .44 and blasted three
shots toward the fleeing thug. One pierced
the street sign, one shattered a clay jar,
but the third found flesh, its headling true,
blunt-nosed, and accurate.

Bledashh laughed, showing all of his perfect
white teeth, holstered his smoking revolver,
pulled out of his inner pocket a golden goningr
flask and gulped two burning swigs of
unfiltered honersche, caught his breath,
and rushed from the public square--angry,
frightened, yet resolute that when he
and the Professor met again, he would
add more lead charms to his first gift.

Glenn Buttkus October 2010



Listen to the author reading this poem.

There's Always Something....

Drawing by Meghan Harvel.


There’s Always Something…

In the night, I woke to
moonlight coming
through the window-shade and
whispering voices downstairs—
only they were echoes from my dream.

Like fog slithering between
hay bales, an unused hanger,
a black silhouette in
a lit doorway—
there are visibles that don’t fill space,
but rather hollow out stomachs
and empty lungs of air.

Like when a person dies—
alive one day, then not.
Yet there’s still
her toothbrush,
her lip-prints
on a nightstand water glass.

Like how there’s always dust
on a windowsill,
a flicker in a candle’s flame,
or a star
just out of reach—
there’s always something
I can’t quite put my finger on.

Erin Lee Ware

Posted over on Applehouse Poetry

Merrily, Merrily, Life Is But A Dream

Painting by Ron Pastucha


Merrily, merrily, life is but a dream

I’m thundering in a blaze of bright lights,
having forgotten too pay the tooth fairy,
on the Orient Express,
disembarking at Baker Street.
I step from the Victorian platform
I am falling, helpless, falling down stairs.

In the dark I hear rats
scraping like chalk on a board;
a nurse flicks the ECT switch,
I am levitating above my torso, my past -
I catch Nana singing
through her dementia, “roll out the barrels”
“doing the Lambeth walk, Ha!”

There’s a sundial in the secret garden,
a single plump candle, there are no shadows here,
I see no flame,
yet I burn my finger tips. Whispers
from a wishing well, whispering! Wishing?
A silver birch explodes;
Philias Barnham’s clowns appear, “roll up...

I part the tents canvas, medieval cold,
Monks in cashmere!
Like 1950’s secretaries scribing
with luminous quills in oversized books.
A face in a shroud looks up,
“the more I learn about dreams, the less I know
about the house of apples” He smiles.

Martin Cordray

Posted over on Applehouse Poetry

She Said Give

Image by Ron Pastucha


she said give

she said give
me your
tired, your poor –
no one mentioned
huddled masses of
the tattered
and torn
.

Yi Ching Lin

Posted over on her site Yi's Bits

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mozart with Kathleen

Image by Ellen Soohoo


Mozart with Kathleen

In honor of your death, my friend Kathleen,
I go to the piano, play half the four-hand Mozart
we worked at for so many years.
The bass is sadder now, because the tune
slid over and off the top of the keyboard
and disappeared in the winter air,
leaving this row of forty ivory slabs
interrupted by black wedges of wood
silent and still as a sculpture garden
closed now for the season. But listen—
the ghost tune still sounds deep
in the caverns of the ear, the ghost hands
still searching for the right fingering.
We'll get it right yet, Kathleen,
but only you and I will ever know or hear.

Bill Holm

Posted over on the Writer's Almanac
"Mozart with Kathleen" by Bill Holm from The Chain Letter of the Soul: New and Selected Poems.

Politics

Image borrowed from Bing

Politics

He’s to the left.
I’m to the right,
our backs bent into
the rope of our beliefs.
We are both closest
to the center line,
so close we could
hold hands. Dare we?
Dare we drop our grip?
Abandon our teams
and The Struggle,
to sit side by side
in some little cafe where
love is always waiting?

Jannie Funster

Posted over on her site Jannie Funster

Komminting King



My goodness, what a wonderful tribute from Jannie Funster
I received. She had said that she had designed a sidebar
button for the old curmudgeon here, and I have looked
for it for weeks, thinking it would have my Bat Man logo,
or my name on it. Not finding it, I was secretly
disappointed, but did not want to upset the Jannie,
or admit my ignorance with my futile search. Then this
morning I discovered this comment done by Miss Jannie
as a response to one of my comments, and my smile
nearly broke my jaw:


On 27 October 2010 at 1:16 pm Jannie said,
Hey, Glenn, Komminting King… I was about to email my pal to see if I can come see him, and am reminded why I titled your button as I did. That is not to say the rest of my dear male komminting friends are mere princes — for you are ALL kings here, equally. And princes! Better than princes – real life sweeties. And my lady friends queens — some possibly leterally! BUt that’s fine, as log as we all meet in love and funsterment. You do leave some damn touching, fine, funny, poetic kommints here. Maybe when I meet with my friend he can see my toes dance in person! Thanks for your white light to him today. I send him some too. And will all day. And tomorrow! And the next day. And the next. And hopefully dream of nice things at night.
xoxoxo

The Thieves, The Thieves, The Lovely Thieves Are No More

Image borrowed from Bing


The thieves, the thieves, the lovely thieves are no more.

When a wind blows
in from the sea, a door
swings open & light
white as Hell
nearly blinds us.
Night begins later,
the skin on my fingers
flakes off. A rank wind
shakes the ladders
we climb on,
the earth more distant,
for which we still
hunger, the sea
filling up with our tears,
our voices lost
in the wind.
Thieves who scour
our shores at evening,
whose voices sound under
our windows, whose tears
hide our pain,
cry out with one voice,
past shadows & windows.
one voice for
earth & one voice
for water,
& thieves dressed
like thieves,
a Hell like
no other, a house
overlooking the sea,
on a night
when coins
ring & death
has a voice,
like a thief’s voice,
earth returning
to earth,
then to water,
a voice
thieves dissemble
in dreams.
Thieves & a sea
& a chimney
down which thieves
clamber. More
thieves in the snow,
skin & hair
growing white.
A shadow that thieves
spill like blood,
like the voice
from a stone,
the voice
of the dying.
Thieves & voices,
shore, wind, & sea,
tears & eyes,
fingers spinning
a thread,
in fear of the sky
& the earth,
of thieves
lost at sea,
a grave
& a stone
left for thieves
where thieves
vanish.

Jerome Rothenberg

A NOTE ON THE PRECEDING. In the 1990s I composed a series of thirty-three “Lorca variations,” drawing vocabulary, principally nouns, from my previously published translation of Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca’s early gathering of poems, The Suites. I later made use of this method of composition for homages to Jackson Mac Low, Octavio Paz, & others as a step beyond translation but with an idea of translation – or what Haroldo de Campos called “transcreation” & I called “othering” – as one of the defining characteristics of poetry as a whole. The obvious difference in the variation presented here & in the larger series from which it comes is that I apply the same procedure to an earlier work of my own, The Seven Hells of the Jigoku Zoshi, a suite of eight poems (not seven) drawing themes but not specific images from ancient Japanese painted scrolls of that name & their accompanying verbal descriptions. The first publication of that work goes back to 1962, & it has remained in print for many years now as part of the first gathering of my selected poetry, Poems for the Game of Silence (New Directions, 1971). As with other variations – other translations for that matter – the procedure, if it works, doesn’t so much annihilate the original version as bring it into a new dimension, where both versions can lead an independent if interlinked existence. The fifty year gap between them adds its own strangeness to the mix.

Posted over on his site Poems & Poetics

Aunt Little Kate



Aunt Little Kate

Aunt Little Kate of the smiling eyes,
apple-cheeked, with upturned nose,
was mine by marriage, mine by law.
No blood connected us,
But when I knew her,
O, how I wished it had.

I was reminded of her on my nameday,
one of many days to be celebrated
according to aunt Little Kate’s calendar.

Aunt Little Kate’s main aim in life
was to spread joy.
Aunt Little Kate loved life,
genuinely loved people,
and in turn was loved by many.
When she married into the dour, joyless family,
ruled with a rod of iron
by my politics obsessed grandfather,
she simply carried on,
innocently, sweetly, softly,
always pliable, yielding, never breaking.
Still celebrating.

War came, took my uncle, her husband away
and made him a prisoner in a far distant land.
Aunt Little Kate lived with grandfather,
who, true to his nature,
tried to bend her to his will.
She looked after the old man,
on whose charity she depended,
bit her tongue, made a fist in her pocket
and waited for better days.
Her smile a little less radiant,
her eyes a little cloudier,
she carried on, innocently, sweetly, softly,
always pliable, yielding, never breaking.
Still celebrating life.

When her husband returned, a broken man,
years after the war had ended,
Aunt Little Kate picked up the pieces.
She had a child and two men to look after now,
two men who soon were bitter enemies,
One despising,
the other cowed in impotent anger.
Aunt Little Kate carried on,
the buffer between the two,
taking each by the hand, sweetly, softly,
always pliable, yielding, never breaking.
Celebrating life and love, joyful once more.

Life, which she loved so much,
treated her harshly.
Aunt Little Kate accepted it all,
discord and strife,
illness and pain,
unkindness and loss.
Her eyes still glowed, her smile still shone,
her joy a constant beacon
to warm the saddest heart.
Aunt Little Kate never stopped celebrating,
her calendar a crowded record
of reasons to be joyful,
to mark each special day
in the life of all those dear to her
with a token of her love.

Friko

Posted over on her site Friko's Musings
Image borrowed from Friko

After Twenty-Six Years

Image by Hanna Sichyngrova


after twenty-six years

after twenty-six years,
what’s twenty more
minutes
of waiting
until he says
the words: today
is a good,
good day
.

Yi Ching Lin

Posted over on her site Yi's Bits

Boo

Image by Mark Simms


Boo

Sitting in a restaurant waiting.
Getting an infection of self awareness.
Here I am a skeleton with meat rotting off.
Waiting to pour food down the top hole.
I've got my tombstone ordered already.
From a stone carver named Pierre Chislehammer.
Got a life time warranty.

Doug Palmer October 2010

Posted over on his site Feel Free to Laugh
Listed as #75 over on Magpie Tales 38

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Taken

Image borrowed from Bing.


Taken

For years, he's locked his prayers inside, so tight,
When visiting that plain and sacred place.
He shuts his eyes in vain hope that he might
Detect her infant breath upon his face.
Across the bridge of heartbreak, he'll recall
Her saintly seizing hands, untroubled sighs.
Born from flying sparks in the early Fall,
With songs of generations in her cries.
When fever came, he could not wail or weep,
Quietly curse as darkness held the day,
Nor pray to God, her little soul to keep.
She was the third he'd buried in this way.
Beneath the crushing weight of unshed tears,
He comes to pay respects, as his time nears.

Martin T. Hodges

Posted over on his site Square Sunshine
Listed as #65 over on Magpie Tales 38

Elegy Tres

Reading Adrian Spark's Facebook page this morning, I found out we lost James MacArthur today. Sparkie had worked with him, and considered him a "gentleman".


James MacArthur died at 72 on 10/28/10:
The son of actress Helen Hayes, he carved his own career admirably, appearing in THE LIGHT IN THE FOREST (1958), THIRD MAN ON THE MOUNTAIN (1959), SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON (1960), SPENCER'S MOUNTAIN (1963), playing Clayboy in the film that went on to become THE WALTONS, and then settled in as Dano on HAWAII FIVE-O (1968-1979).




Barbara Billingsley died at 94 on 10/16/10:
She started making movies in uncredited cameos in 1945, appeared in ACT OF VIOLENCE (1948), THREE GUYS NAMED MIKE (1951), and then hit the paycheck as June Cleavor in LEAVE IT TO BEAVER (1957-1963). We loved her as the Jive Lady in
AIRPLANE! (1980), and few remember THE NEW LEAVE IT TO BEAVER (1983-1989).





Tom Bosley died at 83 on 10/16/10:
He did appear in some films, like THE WORLD OF HENRY ORIENT (1964), but was mostly well known as a consummate television star, starring in THE DEBBIE REYNOLDS SHOW (1969-70), THE SANDY DUNCAN SHOW (1972), and of course HAPPY DAYS (1974-1984).

Waugh's Day





It's the birthday of writer Evelyn Waugh, born in London (1903), the author of great satirical novels like Decline and Fall (1928), Vile Bodies (1930), A Handful of Dust (1934), Put Out More Flags (1942), and Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder (1945).

He drank a lot in college and afterward went to Wales to work as a schoolteacher. He didn't like it there, and later wrote: "The Welsh … are the only nation in the world that has produced no graphic or plastic art, no architecture, no drama. They just sing . . . sing and blow down wind instruments of plated silver."

He was miserable and depressed and tried to commit suicide by walking out into the ocean, but along the way he was stung by jellyfish and turned back, abandoning his plans. He was fired from his teaching position for trying to seduce one of the head schoolmistresses.

In his 20s, he married a woman named Evelyn; the couple's friends called them "He-Evelyn" and "She-Evelyn." She came from an aristocratic family, and he was not a very nice person to her. They were unhappy together, and she left him for a BBC newsman a few years after they were married.

Around the same time, he converted to Catholicism, which fueled lots of gossip among his London peers and the press. He wrote an essay called "Converted to Rome: Why It Has Happened to Me," in which he said that it was about deciding "between Christianity or chaos." He wrote, "It is no longer possible to accept the benefits of civilization and at the same time deny the supernatural basis upon which it is based."

He fell in love with a 19-year-old woman, Laura Herbert, the cousin of his previous wife. He wrote a bunch of letters trying to convince her to marry him — letters in which he said things like: "I can't advise you in my favour because I think it would be beastly for you, but think how nice it would be for me. I am restless & moody & misanthropic & lazy and have no money except what I earn and if I got ill you would starve. In fact it's a lousy proposition. On the other hand, I think I could do a Grant and reform & become quite strict about not getting drunk and I am pretty sure I should be faithful. Also there is always a fair chance that there will be another bigger economic crash in which case if you had married a nobleman with a great house you might find yourself starving, while I am very clever and could probably earn a living of some sort somewhere." He would tell her: "Above all things, darling, don't fret at all. But just turn the matter over in your dear head."


They wedded, had six kids, settled in Somerset, and stayed married for the rest of his life, a period during which he wore checkered tweed suits and used a big ear trumpet when he went hard of hearing. He died in his bathroom in 1966 from a heart attack; it was Easter Sunday, and he'd just come home from Latin Mass. His diaries were published in 1976, and an edition of his letters was published in 1980. There have been several biographies about Evelyn Waugh published recently, including Alexander Waugh's Fathers and Sons: The Autobiography of a Family (2007), David Lebedoff's The Same Man: George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh (2008), and Paula Byrne's Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead (2009).

In Brideshead Revisited,Waugh wrote: "I had been there before; first with Sebastian more than twenty years ago on a cloudless day in June, when the ditches were creamy with meadowsweet and the air heavy with all the scents of summer; it was a day of peculiar splendor, and though I had been there so often, in so many moods, it was to that first visit that my heart returned on this, my latest."

Posted over on Garrison's Keillor's the Writer's Almanac
Image borrowed from Yahoo.

Oil & Steel

Image by Shiela Smart


Oil & Steel

My father lived in a dirty-dish mausoleum,
watching a portable black-and-white television,
reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica,
which he preferred to Modern Fiction.
One by one, his schnauzers died of liver disease,
except the one that guarded his corpse
found holding a tumbler of Bushmills.
"Dead is dead," he would say, an antipreacher.
I took a plaid shirt from the bedroom closet
And some motor oil—my inheritance.
Once I saw him weep in a courtroom—
neglected, needing nursing—this man who never showed
me much affection but gave me a knack
for solitude, which has been mostly useful.

Henri Cole

Posted over on the Writer's Almanac
"Oil & Steel" by Henri Cole from Pierce the Skin

Dog O'Lanterns

For all you dog lovers out there on All Hallows Eve.
Dedicated to Andrea's boy, Sir Charles,
and Judy's girl, Miss Maggie Mae.

























There Is Something

NYC Airport terminal.


there is something

there is something
about the
airport that sucks
an entire day
away, tucks it into
the little granular
pockets sewn into
the inside of its
black hole –
something that
brings people
together, or tears
people away
from their
better selves
.

Yi Ching Lin

Posted over on her site Yi's Bits
Image borrowed from Yahoo.

Infinity



Found in the Willow Wild Cemetery, Bonham, TX.


Infinity


"I didn't know the heart could hurt this grievously, Eldon."

"Yes, my dearest. But we shall ensure that, though no one had time to know her, no one will forget her."

"That quenches the grief as a teacup of water quenches a housefire."

"I'm sorry. There is so little we can do, but we can do this."

"And the stone will let people know that she was alive, however briefly."

"Yes."

"And that we loved her, however briefly."

"Yes."

"This little beacon of stone, carved as deep as our love, will stand and glow with our love, forever."

"Forever."

Walnut and Pearl

Posted over on Walnut and Pearl
Listed as #49 on Magpie Tales 38
images borrowed from Yahoo.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ark

Image by R. Burnett Baker


ark


the ark of our lives
lies within this grave

grass of life
cushions my
feet.

Rick Burnett Baker

Posted over on his site Efficient Agony
Listed as #35 over on Magpie Tales 38

Broken

Image by Tess Kincaid


Broken

One day to breathe
The scent of earth,
One eternity to be it.

Stafford Ray

Posted down under on his site Stafford Ray
Listed as #33 over on Magpie Tales 38

Intimations of Mortality

Image by Bill Emory


Intimations of Mortality


The cemetery gates stand open,
Broken tombstones line the paths,
Forlorn reminders of the lives of those
Whose dreams of love have turned to dust.

Here the living feel a shiver of foreboding,
Withered wreaths lie silent underfoot,
We turn away, our dreams of love held close.
We know, as stone does crumble, the living also must.

Friko

Posted over on her site Friko's Musings
Listed as #11 over on Magpie Tales 38

Day Of The Pariah--1977



Bogie and the Duke never made
a war movie together, and that’s
a damned shame; it would have
been a proper piece of propaganda.

War is always so clean
there on the silver screen.
Explosions are fireball rainbows
and the bodies fall from the sky
like the litter of angels, while
tramping troops start toes tapping;
great polished machines of war
on wheels and tracks of steel
groan and roll, clang and bang,
crushing foreign soil
and foreign devils beneath them--
actors brandishing toy guns,
reciting clever lines of bellicose bullshit,
wearing the pancake masks
of hollywood heroes, their faces
and hands smeared thick with blood
created from corn syrup and tomato paste.

But damn the eyes of the demagogues
who flickered those fallacious frames
there in darkened theaters for
the battalions of boys who bought
the message of patriotic brutality
and found themselves
in Southeast Asia
with khaki ammo belts wrapped
around their lean waists
and real bullets passing hot over their helmets,
cursing at them in Vietnamese and Chinese.

The Freedom Birds, those innocuous
reassigned jet liners, took them there--
and for those who survived
Tour 365, brought them home again
with the steaming blood of the Orient
still clinging to their swollen lips,
and the sickly sweet stench of the Nam
still living strong in their armpits--

home, to work in their Dad’s hardware
store, or on their uncle’s cattle ranch,
or on the nightshift in a steel mill,
or driving a taxi, or swinging a hammer,
or flipping burgers--afraid to sleep,
jumping every time a truck backfired.

They remembered so clearly how proud
their fathers had been, those WWII
and Korean War vets, sending them
off to war, carrying on a legacy of honor--
and now within arm’s reach of their
fathers, their only embrace
was cold silence.

There it was.
There were no parades,
no handshakes, no free beers,
no easy bank loans, no welcome
home dinners, no sweetheart waiting,
no talk of valor, no victory barbecues;
nothing but society’s spittle dripping down
the front of their dress uniforms.

War created warriors
walking the wet streets
of every city in America--
hundreds of thousands of them,
watching, waiting, year after year;
angry clear into their bones,
their fists clenched,
their minds still scrambled
from that Soc Trang overload;
living with pain, embracing it
like it was an aphrodisiac,
crapping bayonets
and vomiting violence;
an army moving under the radar,
weary but still unwilling
to lay down all their weapons,
whispering to each other
where the caches were,
and who the enemy was.

Glenn Buttkus October 2010

Listed as #42 over on Magpie Tales 38




Listen to the author read this poem.

Taps







Taps

We crawled around
like quail in the village
graveyard, hid, dead-quiet,
behind the markers
at the foot of the hill, until
Larry slowly finished Taps
on his trumpet, poignant,
for baggy mourners
in their herringbone
overcoats. I felt at ease
among the tombs
and trees, never skipping
on the blanket-tops, I tipped
small, pigeon-toed around
the headstones, carefully,
not to disturb the slumber,
not to step directly
on their beds,
crouching low, still,
against a cold marble
pillow, to prevent
the crunching of leaves.



Tess Kincaid
October 27, 2010

I have fond memories of tagging along with my young uncles, who were actually more like brothers to me, in the Burlington Cemetery, Carroll County, Indiana when I was a girl. We would watch quietly, from a safe distance, while my Uncle Larry, played Taps for local funerals on his trumpet.

Posted over on Willow Manor
Listed as #1 over on Magpie Tales 38
Image of and by Miss Willow
Image borrowed from Bing.

Dylan's Salute




Painting by Alfred Janes

Willow gave us warning,
and now Garrison confirms it:

It's the birthday of the man who wrote the lines "Do not go gentle into that good night. / Rage, rage against the dying of the light." That's Dylan Thomas, born in Swansea, Wales, in 1914. He's one of the most popular poets of his generation.

At age 20, he published his first collection, 18 Poems. Critics raved. Se married an Irishwoman, lived in London, had three kids, and drank a lot. To make ends meet, he went off to America on the lecture circuit. He often showed up drunk to his readings, where he either whispered or shouted his poems. He had a deep, resonant voice and he was immensely popular.

He drank himself to death in New York City in 1953; he was on his fourth reading tour of America. When he was taken to the hospital because of alcohol poisoning, he told the doctor: "I've had eighteen straight whiskeys. I think that's the record." He died within the week.

He once wrote:

Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon; ...
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion."

Dylan Thomas said: "Poetry is the rhythmic, inevitably narrative, movement from an overclothed blindness to a naked vision that depends in its intensity on the strength of the labour put into the creation of the poetry. My poetry is, or should be, useful to me for one reason: it is the record of my individual struggle from darkness towards some measure of light."

And he said,
"Poetry is what makes me laugh
or cry or yawn, what makes my toenails
twinkle, what makes me want to do this
or that or nothing."

An alcoholic is someone you don't like who drinks as much as you do.
Dylan Thomas

But time has set its maggot on their track.
Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Dylan Thomas

Don't be too harsh to these poems until they're typed. I always think typescript lends some sort of certainty: at least, if the things are bad then, they appear to be bad with conviction.
Dylan Thomas

Dylan talked copiously, then stopped. 'Somebody's boring me,' he said, 'I think it's me.'
Dylan Thomas

Go on thinking that you don't need to be read and you'll find that it may become quite true: no one will feel the need tom read it because it is written for yourself alone; and the public won't feel any impulse to gate crash such a private party.
Dylan Thomas

Great is the hand that holds dominion over man by a scribbled name.
Dylan Thomas

He who seeks rest finds boredom. He who seeks work finds rest.
Dylan Thomas

I went on all over the States, ranting poems to enthusiastic audiences that, the week before, had been equally enthusiastic about lectures on Railway Development or the Modern Turkish Essay.
Dylan Thomas

I've just had eighteen straight whiskies. I think that's the record.
Dylan Thomas

My education was the liberty I had to read indiscriminately and all the time, with my eyes hanging out.
Dylan Thomas

Never be lucid, never state, if you would be regarded great.
Dylan Thomas

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Dylan Thomas

Somebody's boring me. I think it's me.
Dylan Thomas

The function of posterity is to look after itself.
Dylan Thomas

The land of my fathers. My fathers can have it.
Dylan Thomas

There is only one position for an artist anywhere; and that is upright.
Dylan Thomas

These poems, with all their crudities, doubts, and confusions, are written for the love of Man and in praise of God, and I'd be a damn' fool if they weren't.
Dylan Thomas

Though lovers be lost love shall not.
Dylan Thomas

Wales is the land of my fathers. And my fathers can have it.
Dylan Thomas

A Blessing

Image by Cam Heusser


A Blessing

After three days of hard fishing
we lean against the truck
untying boots, removing waders.

We change in silence still feeling
the rhythm of cold water lapping
thankful for that last shoal of rainbows
to sooth the disappointment
of missing a trophy brown.

We'll take with us the communion
of rod and line and bead-head nymphs
sore shoulders and wrinkled feet.

A good tiredness claims us
from slipping over rocks, pushing rapids –
sunup to sundown – sneaking
toward a target, eyes squinting
casting into winter wind.

We case the rods, load our bags
and start to think about dinner.
None of us wants to leave.
None wants to say goodbye.

Winter shadows touch the river cane.
The cold is coming. We look up
into a cobalt sky, and there,
as if an emissary on assignment,
a Bald Eagle floats overhead
close enough to bless us
then swiftly banks sunward
and is gone.

Ken Hada

Posted over on the Writer's Almanac
"A Blessing" by Ken Hada from Spare Parts.