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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Our Friendship

                      
 (for CR)

It began somewhere in the dark
of grade school classrooms
kid drawing projects on the walls
mother's cookies on birthdays
milk and nap-time in kindergarten
A red brick building with a flat roof
upper graveled playground
for the older kids fourth through sixth
the lower for the little kids
Miss Widebody had the little little ones
in their own
Yeah, that's cruel but I can't remember
her name right now as the past
slips away in confusion and loneliness
but she was patient and sweet
The principal was a tall rancher
who would be tall even now
making an in-town living
for payments his acres couldn't budge
My friend lived on the next street north
I lived over the hill
The folks gave me a camera
that captured faces with no names
including his
I could not forget his

His father was killed
serving in the Air Force
My father killed golf balls
on Wednesday afternoon
We played war as kids
to make a machine gun nest
that looked across my gravel driveway
out of boards covered with dirt
There were Germans out there somewhere
I was descended from Germans
My college didn't teach machine gun
He saved his own life
in Vietnam
with the real thing


Barry G. Wick





Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Return


An old shame has knocked on the door
to make remembrance dance painfully
With each footstep it is silly to feel
the growing of it that is best
turned over to an erasable yesterday

Father's parents are coming to visit
They are sitting on the patio
in padded redwood chairs
waiting for the grandchildren
to greet them since they rarely cross town

The one child missing from the greeting
is having trouble finding pants to wear
because they don't properly fit
as buttons won't button and zippers won't zip
these pants too small on a growing child

Eventually the mother takes an arm
to pull him out into the summer night
in a t-shirt and underwear
Grandmother says it doesn't matter
Grandpa smiles through his gold wire glasses

The hugs aren't remembered if given
That's what should be important
No amount of erasing will wipe away
the truth of these embarrassments
It is truth that begs its writing

Such moments return with a lowered head
even when years are suppose to drop
away as a child grows to manhood
then into the aged years grass of the path
of a man is worn away beneath his feet

It is the child inside who feels a failure
The adult also lets such emotions drain
into the same pot that becomes
so overwhelming no amount of self-advising
will knock down the castle of shame

If only hugs could free ourselves in a family
that rarely hugged or held a hand
Reassurance and forgiveness at any age
wipes away all of the dark stains
the created imaginations of a fleeing child

That child is still running to the unknown
to beg for a moment of unfiltered kindness
as he cries for all the times he paused
to hold his self reflected in smaller socks
running around the home he left behind


Barry G. Wick






The Gradual Colors of Blindness

Raised in the home of an optometrist
good vision was often the topic
as the family settled for a meal
in the nook on the corner
of the house with windows
that looked east to the hill
and west to the black mountains
where the sun blazed at its setting
Father mixed the complexity
of long and strange words
with something his boys
could understand
He spoke of his day
staring at the eyes
of patients with diabetes
macular degeneration
and the gradual loss of colors
For someone who had given his life
over to the care of those who
needed his care and concise observations
pain could be easily felt
as he spoke of someone going blind

Jorge Luis Borges was not his patient
because he lived in South America
far from the west of South Dakota
Borges spoke of his descending vision
losing blacks and other colors
one or two at a time in slow progression
Those who know these conditions
have sympathy for the one going blind
Yet thinking about these changes
and the blind who have crossed
the paths of my father's sons
there must be something special
in the loss of a sense
as other senses take charge
as the memory of visions
sharpen into the razors of thought

There is no desire to be blind
however eyes no longer drawn
this way and that
some kind of peace must settle
into the minds of those blind
who render the remembered
pile of black letters
into the word pictures
of the astonished void
that is the life of most people
Just as dust settles into the cracks
of a table or between the letters
on a keyboard
words gather no dirt
with no need for a polish in the mind
if they are properly dipped
in the colors of a blind man's creation

There's Borges yes but also
Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder
Jose Feliciano and Ronnie Milsap
Moondog and Doc Watson

These colors can make the legs weak
or force a toe to tap beyond all control
Father helped those near to blindness
see the dimming of the world
knowing well that something else
could rise from the pool
of remembered visions
What is left of each life's way
by accident birth or advanced age
needs no pity or tears of sorrow
but a closer look by inner eyes
of those who still can see
to recognize the possibilities
of darkness as a gift
for a golden frame
around the blazing colors
spilling from a changing soul



Barry G. Wick





Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Word Stringer


“Any great poem is one you wrote anyway.”--Richard Hugo

Those who put words
together
one after another
are not writers
image manufacturers
poets
whatever is believed
the occupation
or avocation may be

the real creators
are the readers
who bring their own
mental images to the paper
the pages
the screens
to the voices aloud
bouncing wall to wall
or dancing across the prairie
like light rain

No
rich and often poor words
bring thunderstorms
drop hail and tornadoes
inside heads
to flash their lightning
across inner eyes
the ones that cannot be
examined by an optometrist
until after brains
have exploded from heads
when they become invisible mush
for the dead to digest

To enjoy them
stay alive
to prepare for the apocalypse
when dictionaries are burned
sending smoke aloft
unreadable by everyone
except Indians in the movies
or destroyed by noon-day cannons
their loud utterances
demanding rest or nourishment

The King proclaims
only what is accepted
by those who are woolly caterpillars
in line for the next bush
unable to see anything
except the next crawly butt

Stop that at once

search all the words
being fed by the spoonfuls
to find the depth
of the gift of creation

Now blow that up
Mr. Hubble



Barry G. Wick



Thursday, October 8, 2015

Recollection

A poet awakens from his dream

Before the paper records it
he wanders to his toilet
to let the night's words drain
He checks his underwear
for poetic skidmarks
Yes his dreams are written there

The fog of darkness hustles him
to the kitchen where he takes
his first medicine
a pill of words prescribed
by poetic doctors
Dishes from a poetic dinner
sit in the sink
so he draws the water
into his well of words
adding soap to billow
over its edges
He wants his poem to be clean
He rushes to feed more words
to his fish who are hungry

Sitting
he tests his blood to see if
he is still worthy enough
to record the memories of the dreams
that sleep has stored
He presses buttons to open
the paper on a screen
The pens on the tips of his fingers
splash ink where the clouds lift
as the sun enters
his drifting storm of letters
that create the gibberish
that poets always recollect

This poet's dream has him rushing
to his mentor to retell a story
that never happened
of a gathering of poets along a river
where they spilled their words
in a distant land of mountains
The senior poet nods
at his student's progress
deciding to give him a radio
full of his poems
attached to a window sill
by a separate base
wires piercing the wood
into this poet's collection
just as empty as a gathering
his student organized in the backyard
of his past life

The instrument is separated
and given to the student
who beams with pride
at the gift
that can never replay
the voice of the man
who gives it
No matter how many watts
the student poet applies
to the tubes and speakers
the words of his teacher
cannot appear in the morning haze
as the poet drools more words
onto a glowing screen
while he watches the bubbles
disappear in the sink
to the sound of bubbles
where his fish swim
to the bubble of memory
that pops in his head

He is ready for the day
surrounded by empty words
popping everywhere
a sonic bubble bath
that keeps his dishes clean
his fish alive
and his poem
empty of voices


Barry G. Wick





To Space and Beyond


Whatever empty space is
I think about it
and it doesn't seem to notice
my thought
That empty place is locked
inside the wrong of me
that I see every day

Those who are pleased
I suffer
are rewarded by it

It is an expanding emptiness
certainly not black
for something to be black
there must be something
to absorb the light
but inside the light fades
an empty jug
deeply empty
atoms of thought
pushing farther into nothingness
and I'm spread out
until the edges aren't just thin
this toast has no butter
this music has no vibration
this painting has no color
no frame
no canvas

I hang it on my wall
to remind myself
of its memory
which is nothing at all
sprouting into the distance
a growing plant
unable to gain sustenance
from its impossible growth
without a root
pushing deep
into a dirt-free soil



Barry G. Wick