(((Rhyming poetry to me is contrived and often uneasy, but in memory of my great-grandmother and founder of South Dakota's Pasque Petals poetry magazine, Gertrude Gunderson, a well-known poet in her day, I write an occasional rhyming poem...if only to send my love to her.)))
Towards a Better Finish
I sand this wood and to my credit sanding seems a lifetime edit. It removes my goofs so sudden thoughtless and makes the world seem clearly spotless. Working wood to clean my mind, day by day it helps me find a peaceful time when past is gone and memory of some flagrant spawn of ill-timed speech or action dared gave others hurt I should have spared. But sand my soul in such a fashion ol' memory stirs some molten passion. So now when wood gives smooth it's surface from rougher times and ill-gained purpose, I hope that someday I may find a gleaming finish deserved in kind.
I was a child when my mother
pulled me from the Yellowstone,
walking, I went, at age two
to follow my Father with flyrod in hand,
only one foot out of water
when Mother grabbed it screaming.
I remember cutthroat colors
eye to eye
as I gasped in the torrent of wet
"What happens next?"
And everybody laughs when Father
tells the story years later.
Mother and Father fought over us.
Screaming at the chasms I'd fall in,
the fury of my creative Mother
saving me with piano, poetry and art.
Brother had more visions of Father.
I went to Mother.
Now years after my own family failed,
I care for Mother at the end of life
slowly gone to mindless time
caring only for her body.
In these later middle years
I feel a shadow in the distance,
the ghost of my Father on the Yellowstone,
the last arc of line and fly touching
an unbroken surface with fish food bug
pulling me again to wondrous rapids
becoming what I called him
when I fell into the yellow chasm
with only fish to see:
Barry G. Wick, June 2008
copyright (c) by Barry G. Wick
I Dreamed of Carl (There are links in the poem I did not put there and don't approve of...and I'm very upset they are inside the poem)
I dreamed of Carl
At a concert up in Deadwood,
I go into the bar and he's sitting on top of it.
I go to him and throw my arms around him
for the longest time.
What have you been doing?
His is music now, it seems.
He's with some guy
who was associated with
the New Christy Minstrals
And it seems to be nothing.
Then Carl goes on a plane ride
with some man
on a rikkety ol' thing
and falls off.
and at the edge of a mud pit
blood on top
and I leap in to
feel in the mud
and find his arms
and pull him up.
With some clear water I wash
off the mud.
and he's okay.
I haven't checked for wounds.
but he's breathing and okay.
I wake up. Longing.
Leave me alone or come back.
Don't just stay at the edge of my dreams.
If you come back, stay.
If you don't, stay away.
Each dream is a torture
of an old love, my only one.
In Chicago nearly 20 years ago
and I'm still in love...I'd still be in love
if the silence hadn't grown deafening.
Now the world is scrambled into ones and zeros have and have not and then we split everything you can half my narwhal if I can half your bald eagle I'll mount it guts out which reminds me of my drink with Jeffrey Dahmer in the Phoenix bar in Milwaukee I started chatting he got up and left I wasn't his taste and he wasn't my type taste and type up and down ones and zeros
I am called to this world to play piano with a young composer who has supplied me with the most avant-garde compositions. I am playing most of them badly but he is kind to me and compliments my playing of these rhythmic and unusual pieces that have come from his mind.
Particularly, the last I am to read looks drawn vertically like a series of descending reeds or grass to the bottom of a vase. Near the top I see a circular staff. A flower? I don't know. I don't know how to play this music and feeling drawn to leave I thank the young composer.
Is it not a calling to play music in that world of talent filled with wonders that I myself cannot create? I am left with the feeling that I shall return better prepared to read the pieces with a more studied hand, trembling less and excited to once again recreate his musical genius.
We have been attacked all winter. Sheets of ice have wrecked the homes that were not heated. I cannot think of the words to tell these people where to look when the ice melts. I cannot speak this language. An old woman hands me paper and pencil. I try to write a note. The word "morte" comes into my mind. The word "aqui" comes into my mind. The word "est" comes into my mind. Then I say: La morte est aqui. The man in the chair nods. It is wrong. When I awake from this nightmare I seek a translator for the words I want to say.
But it is too late.
The dead are not here. The dead are there in my dreams and I want to go on fighting in the mountains with the rebels.
Heironymous Bosch comes to visit from Chicago. We drink. I'm tipsy.
He paints the friends I used to know. The devil in a dead tree with death playing a lute. A barrel runs on two legs tempting me with brew. The city burns in the background. Lake Michigan with asses hanging out over the side of a boat smiling at the gay sun worshipers on The Rocks at the end of Belmont Avenue, their pale horses drinking from the lake.
Plates of bloody food. human-headed birds, and scarlet women. Probably drag queens from North Halsted Street.
I suspect I am the monk reading from the book in the center of the scene. I am praying for all of this to go away or wanting to join in the orgy of delights and kept away by a painful conscience. All the rest die except me or am I already dead upon my knees refusing to live life to its fullest.
Go away, Mr. Bosch and leave my city memories behind like years of cracked varnish on an old painting.
You know too much about me, dear Heironymous, and now you've told everyone about me and how my life was lived on my knees in a cloak my walking stick ready to support my last walk through a world of sorrows.
Barry G. Wick worked for many years in the broadcasting and advertising industry. A native of The Black Hills, he retired to Coralville, Iowa next to Iowa City in 2014. He writes poetry and some fiction. Most everything he's ever written is unpublished. This writer's poems are available to the whole world free of charge though your gifts are welcome.