Your help?

Thank you for even thinking about contributing via Paypal. I have had 2 of 100,000,000 expected contributors since 2009. Thank you! My account at Paypal is the same as my email: rikwrybac(at)yahoo.com

Follow by Email

Saturday, September 24, 2016

I STAND CORRECTED!

Somewhere between 1973 and 1974 while at Washington State University, I had an opportunity to be in a master class, a workshop, with poet Richard Hugo.  He had come to WSU at the invitation of poet in residence G. S. Sharat Chandra.  I was working for the college radio station KWSU AM at the time.  I was also one of Sharat's students for three years.  Having purchased several reels of new tape and borrowing a reel to reel recorder from the station, I took them to the workshop to record the event.  Those two reels were filled with questions and answers, comments, and so many statements by Mr. Hugo.  From those tapes I created a "feature" that played on NPR's All Things Considered for which I was paid, a wonderful thing for a poor broadcast student.  Mr. Hugo had been nominated for the National Book Award that year for his book,  "The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir."
Those tapes went with me wherever I went and ended up in my "stuff" in Rapid City, South Dakota.
As I had known he had passed away some years before, I wrote to the English Department at The University of Montana where Mr. Hugo had been poet in residence.  Asking them if they wanted the tapes, I received a very effusive letter saying that they'd love to have them.  Their thank you letter indicated that these recordings were the only recordings of his voice in existence.  I've repeated that information for years being proud that I recorded that workshop.
I stand corrected because there are now videos on Youtube with his moving image and the sound of his voice....including his reading his poems.  There had been no reason for me to search the Internet for videos of Mr. Hugo.  I shall not repeat that foolish statement again.  There are recordings of his voice.  And his voice is as I remember it's warm sound.  Please, to all those to whom I said my recordings were the only ones, please accept my apology.  I am very happy to have memories of meeting him, hearing his poems in a reading I did not record, and being able to be in that workshop.  I also have memories of sitting near him getting advice and comments from him about my future as a poet.  I hope I live up to Richard Hugo's suggestions for a life in poetry.
One only has to search his name on Youtube and up pops listings for 6 or 7 videos including a lengthy video featuring him reading, teaching, and traveling around Montana.  (Sidebar:  I have a poet friend in Rapid City, Mike Forette, who studied with Mr. Hugo at the University of Montana...and I'm just a touch jealous of him having had that lengthy experience.)
While Richard Hugo is often considered a "Northwest poet"...what is really true is that he is one of the great American poets of the 20th Century.  He did not live long enough to give us even more of his humanity and voice.

Barry G. Wick

Friday, September 23, 2016

All Powerful

Sitting on the edge of the bed
looking murder through dark curtains
into the yawn-gaped day
that refuses to burn away
with fire-ray vision
the optometrist informs is real
This is no mere super villain
that limps from bed
through the kitchen to desk
now carrying
the instrument of salvation
It's black handle and toothy blade
ready to dispatch
the globe from Florida
in four strokes to the plate
Five neat pieces
reveal it's delicately strung beads
filled with acidic tears
that burst as jaws begin
their evil ripping
all the way to the rind
This orange begins
to raise the brain through the smoke
of dream-filled cataclysms
The earth is finally safe



Barry G. Wick

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Phlebotomist, Poet, Students, and Teacher

Her smile
her thick-framed glasses
her short black hair
over her dark skin
She's from Sudan
drawing the blood
in an Iowa clinic
telling a poet
he should make money
from his poems

The answer for most
would be yes
hell yes
yes dammit

Poets aren't remembered
for their bank accounts
in a chain of banks
or how much they leave
their families apr├Ęs croak

Just one poem survives
for most who write
It might not be
their best poem

All any poet should want
is to have a junior high kid
ask the teacher in 500 years
why
they should have to read
this stupid old poem anyway

One day a student will ask
this as the teacher points
to a poem on the glowing screen
It's old English,” she'll say.
Then the teacher will be
beaten and robbed
just minutes before
the third nuclear war


Barry G. Wick



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Montana Love

Believe this is Butte
with a strange poison in the air
Is this going to or coming from
It doesn't matter
there is a YMCA in town
with a pool and shower
The check in is nominal
with a change from streets
to a comfortable suit to swim
A mile down the lane
and its out to sit
There is no one here
but a young man
who watches
who follows this exploration
of empty rooms
to the shower
he stares at places
where things reveal themselves
Simple conversation becomes
the invitation turned away
with wet silence
despite where his eyes
have been
as he hurries away
down the hall
and out the door
A towel drys a questioning head
At the door he is seen
farther down the street

Where is his life now
married or alone
dreaming of a traveling man
in a flowered Speedo
where love in Butte
is always furtive and fearful
This miners' town
of years ago
that turned to energy
when there was energy
to spend a night
embracing him
before that energy
turned into the aches
of older years
farther down western highways
the scenery of orange sundowns
and needy men unrelieved
having never held each other


Barry G. Wick

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Length of the Path

Laying in bed before troubled sleep
returns to surprise in colored dreams
with an impossible story
comes the memories of children's feet
on a hilly forest path to school
surrounded by the brown grass
of a snow-less winter or dry summer
among old pines flagged from wind
at the top of Hangman's Hill
with its beige and pink sandstone

The path returns in the morning
from the house sided in dull red
to the area behind the rock that marks
the top of the hill down the other side
to the road around the corner
or crossing the old witch's land
who yells trespass warnings
before you pass the mayor's house
seeing friends on the playground
playing tag or chasing games

Thousands of hikes to and from the school
where the first polio vaccines
on sugar cubes gave a mother confidence
that what happened to her brother
in an iron lung won't happen to her child
the school where friends would play
and old people voted in the gym
We played war games there of an old world
where real wounds happen bloodless
with loaded sticks or pine cone grenades

The first days of school began at a bowl
of limp cereal in changing seasons
when there were no problems dry or wet
challenging kids more than arithmetic
in a red brick building with gravel playground
Inside dark halls were forgotten brass
plaques to remind forgotten students
of the people who approved money
for the building of this school
and their commitment to learning

All students waited for Saturday mornings
with Mighty Mouse if the family was lucky
to have invisible television radiation
close enough to the towers of two stations
no more silence in the night to read
sitting on the carpet close waiting
for Ed Sullivan to show us Buddy Holly
being told to back up because being close
will ruin the eyes with which we need to read
the books in later times would become irrelevant

All the memories of the path are different
resting quietly inside those kids
who pull them up to wonder about them
or laugh at what was serious to teachers
as some of them came to school
hungry or in torn clothing from shacks
after a night where drunken dad beat mom
or arguments disturbed a darkened bedroom
when children would cry pulling covers
knowing parents could not love

Most of the whispers would disappear
learning the words for tests of memory
with spelling the days when corrections
weren't underlined on a glowing screen
but checked in red by unmarried teachers
who were smart to be single and free
The more we knew from the news
it was mostly that we learned Crest
was tested against other toothpaste
making us 34 per cent better with Fluoristan

Now the commercials are more believable
than the repeated news on some channels
The informative presenters have nothing
and never give us tests they check in red
These news stars of fact also know
what ad agencies say about repetition
So true or not we all live over-informed
near Hangman's Hill's blue pasque flowers
that grow in bunches along the path
enough for teacher enough for mother

Some days we played in school
because the radioactive fallout
was so bad from who knows where
from over the hills from over the seas
There was no understanding this
because it looked the same outside
just as any other day in our town
just as any other week in other seasons
So over the years our parents died
our friends died too of cancer this or that

How many inches of memory
are used to make this message
how much of it lost to chemicals
that we were told was part of better living
As we watch our planet die
with plastic piling up in the oceans
in the guts of birds fish and mammals
oil and gas still rule the lands of earth
only the lies have changed from tigers
in the tank to tanks at the doorsteps

Children and grandchildren show up
in invisible bytes of ones and zeroes
who have murmurs in the heart
disabilities too hard to explain
a need for chemicals to concentrate
all the while teachers no longer
believe it important to check wrongs
on papers turned in to show progress
only that all students should be encouraged
to be there the day of the national test

We wonder now if what we made
was not the world we wanted
just something we tumbled through
in which grandparents rolled before us
in their old clothes the future down-loaders
will laugh at and never really know
what the pictures reveal to be true
that we are just as ignorant of our age
as they were of their making-something-better
that takes the challenges away from some

No one returns to the path on the side of the hill
going back and forth to the red-brick school
to and from the redwood sided house
in a small meadow below the crest
of Hangman's Hill where three horse thieves
ended their lives at the behest of locals
who thought stealing a horse equaled death
just as today when we think just being a child
in a land faraway is worthy of death from the sky
when our path now conflicts with the kings of oil

This path is steep or rocky in places near and far
It's the same path going to and coming from
that has been beneath feet in many shoes
The first paths are always the one that stay
locked into the mind like anchored rocks
This could be anyplace with its varied flora
being picked to take or picked on the way home
It is always the same feet one after the other
So up the steps into the house paths take us
where land is flat or hilly the result is the same



Barry G. Wick

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Shut-ins

Old people in their homes
who are unable to leave
are adventuresome rocks
who hope for a great flood
to take them downstream
while they feel like fish
who just escaped a hook



Barry G. Wick

Collected

There are names on books
of who edited poems together
by this or that author
the editor sharing a life
that could not possibly
be understood in its entirety
not understood by the readers
who do not breathe
the same air
as the poet walks
in sandals or barefoot
in loafers or heels
The collected dust
on a poet's skin
would show where
the poet walked
but they do not sell
small vials of it
in bookstores
Collected hair
left by balding poets
isn't traded
at the supermarket
Old bills paid
by checks signed
might still exist
but few might collect
Empty bottles or bindles
don't seem to make it
to the auction
The last rays of light
that touched the poet's skin
have been reflected
in light seen or unseen
Exhaled breath
with droplets of moisture
traded to the air
from coursing veins
dissipate among the vegetable stands
on a distant street
in a town unnamed
in every line of poetry
or letter written to a friend
All we have are remnants
of inspiration
that deleted a moment
of awareness of everything
around the poet
long enough
for pen pencil
tapped keys or tapped keyboard
chalk or tip of burnt kindling
to set limited words
spelled in designed letters
of a thousand alphabets
onto something another
might try to comprehend
only to fail
this challenge
of crawling beneath the skin
to live one second
in awe or disgust
of a life for which
we are desperate


Barry G. Wick