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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

RONATHON! The Casketmaker

For the third installment of my tribute to Ronald H. Bayes, poems from Ron's most popular volume: The Casketmaker: Selected Shorter Poems 1960-1970. The poems in this collection demonstrate the controlled verse of a poet who "keens the spirit" to let the autobiographical seep into the mystical, and allow the power of Yeats' "thin places" to activate the landscapes of Western Oregon, Iceland, Japan, and North Carolina. Many of these poems also appeared later in one book of a series called Poets Greatest Hits edited by Jennifer Bosveld.


Because it pleases me I turn to you
this lightless hour, and ask a reassurance
that cannot be there, although you touch me
and respect a smile of which I'm half ashamed.

The time is mine and selfishly I share
the sudden flash, sheet lightning of my
mind, unapt to start a fire or cause a
rain, denote direction sure enough to take;

And you can see my clutching--like a sea
anemone poked with a stick, neither in defense
nor aggression out of will: I build,
I drive, I turn to you again. Admire the nail.


I fumble at the weaving of a garland for you
with whom a certain grace
of understanding came late,
at the right time, out of place.
Regardless of the calendar
the fumble-fingered man I was
and am; note how the things
pop out of place in eye, in fact--
but string and color, stalk and
vine of mine I wind, now, briefly
together for you, in grief,
this way, for at least one last time
and at least one first.

That I have never seen a finer
love than yours, or hurt more deep
makes me confess the mystery.
And now I think illogically about
your summer with the bridges,
rivets caught death-high, in air,
knowing time lines extend some things.
Some things stand out because
they should,
because they must.

Eyes sometimes come alive in paintings
where there are only almond whites,
clocks stop when the dead love
or want to touch us; when the dead love
the living and when we reciprocate.
And sometimes through such doors
in spite of our desire, loved ones
insist on entering. Then we can only
touch and hope; make hope a garland,
hope touch will suffice and we can
--will be allowed to--take
a world at a time.


Go away.
I think I love you.
I have a rock to roll up a hill.
Go away.
I love you.
It is essential.


you're dead today.
I who have also
inscribed against death
stand in public
and stream tears,
and I'm supposed to read,
coherently, later today,
in Fort Smith, Arkansas,
about the good of the poetic mind--
and poetry.
But you won't leave my mind long enough.

You're gone
and Creeley was at last
with us in my home
last week, warmly alive,
wise, keen, brilliant.
In turn, we were
at Vancouver together
when word came
has been found dead
in the water...
in the water.


"Language has not the power to speak what
love indites: / The soul lies buried in the
ink that writes." --
John Clare

My Dear, how to begin this,
your being so far away and
time being so strange;
that what I love in you
is for its own dear sake,
this you know now.
Yet we are wise enough
to know love's pledges
turn lies often through Time and
not Intention.
What can we do but touch
tangibles and abstractions given,
memory of ocean,
memory of mountain,
pictures, photographs.
Recall that difficult parting,
tears (as your sobbing the last,
deep night awakened me
to what I hadn't known).
This, these simplicities;
whatever else may come,
your smile the counterpoint
to what I'd lost.


XYZ said...

Seeking thin places... but mostly they are where we are not looking.

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