to a bit of nagging and a little encouragement from friends and family members I
have made available here some of my old longer poems. In a way it is a little
retrospective on my poetic career. Some of the poems presented here date back to
my teen years in the 60's. None of them are as well known as "Beside
Cold Water" or
None are as well crafted as "The
Bottom of the Ocean"
or as polished and precise as the "Shadows"
but they do stand on their own merits. An evolving philosophical vein passes
through them all and makes a retrospective journey interesting for the reader.
Below I have written a little introduction for each of them. The navigation
buttons are in the left frame.
the Heart and Soul"
is the oldest poem presented here. The first draft dates to 1966. I wrote the
stanza first during English class my junior year of high school. "And
So Falls a Man"
was a separate poem written in 1967 that I edited to fit in 1977 when the entire
poem was rewritten in preparation for publication. For my friends: all of the
stanzas are about people I went to school with.
first draft of "Idylls"
was handed in as a term paper in my twelfth grade English class in 1967. I
received a resounding "F" for my little rebellion but the poem did
cause a bit of controversy in the teachers' lounge. The entire poem was drastically
rewritten in 1977 but each stanza remained subjectively the same.
Baby, Lost" in
the student union at UWW one morning in 1968. My friends Bruce, Debbie and Trudy
watched me do it. I was moved by the events of the day. The edition here is from
1977 but is very close to the original. It is in some ways a tribute to W. H.
Auden who was a considerable influence on my early work. It is full of literary
must warn the reader that "South
Side Winter Love Song"
is a very dark piece. It was written over an eighteen month span in the late
70's during which I endured the premature deaths of a family member and a friend
both in their early 20's. The drug culture was a factor in both deaths. I was
drinking heavily and wrote in short frenetic bursts. The poem itself took so
long in its painful evolution, that I never completely edited it until 1993 in
Colorado, when I nearly lost my wife in an automobile accident. It is still
difficult for me to read. This poem was the beginning of my struggle to find a
dialectic defining the origins of human consciousness. I also began to truly
embrace the "self-teaching" mystery of poetry which was to serve me
well in the future.
Letter to an Old Friend"
is a self-effacing but cleverly pointed response to a Charismatic Christian
friend of mine who hounded me regularly to attend his church. The edition is
is an experimental attempt to use poetry to intellectually grapple with the
origins of human consciousness. In this poem I began to use poetry to provide
answers to others rather than seek answers for myself. Though "Dancing
was not entirely successful in its purpose, the function of poetry changed for
me after this piece. It is from 1989 and has never been edited or published. I
lifted two lines from it in "The
began to write "Journal:
Hard Rhymes, Hard Times, Wedding Chymes"
in 1988 with the stanza beginning, "the
king went up on Tara".
I chose the stricture of the form and continued to add four line stanzas and
move them around in the poem for five years. The last stanza was completed in
1993. This poem was the beginning of what poetry is for me now - the mystery of
remembering. I personally like the piece though it does not possess the clarity
of my later work. I lifted a few words and the subjective point of one
stanza in "The
Charm" is from
1997 and was originally composed as an addition to "Journal"
and is in the same form. I decided to let it stand alone as it seemed to dark.
It is a response to a betrayal of trust and is full of literary allusions.
One Hope" is
from 1998. Though initially a dark piece it is really a reflection of the
bravado of the human spirit. The initial allusion is to Lautremont.