Category: 1963-1967

Poems written at Trinity College (Hartford, CT)

 

Sigh Star Sigh

The physicist at the
black
board
talks of  “sigh star sigh”
adding probabilities.
un-
less
we learn to think
both sides of a thought
all
space
fills with chalk marks
and the stars
may well
sigh.

 

1966 or so?

To NOGAF

A sodden mind sheds soggy morals
off its duck’s-back basis of relief.
Squatting now upon their laurels
years of yearning learning get relief.

An open mind is fertile earth,
ideas raining down on it at length;
like land, it drinks when near its birth
with gusto, turning moisture into strength.

The summer mind’s ideas flower,
flourish with the rains, until at last
its fruits and foliage – wisdom’s power –
are harvested, and the day of youth is past.

Now Autumn minds grow brown of leaf
and rains erode the sated autumn earth.
The spare supply of wet belief
is wasted. Lack of want destroys its worth.

Yet know that though the ground will freeze
and snows of dullness cover summer’s green,
yet ice will melt with the first warm breeze;
and somewhere there are always evergreens.

 

-Trinity Class Poem, 1967 –
(Somewhat of a rush job – could have used a bit more polishing.)

Goodbyes

The sun purred cautiously
and stroked my back with claws now sheathed,
battle-weary lion —
spiralled down black distant dots
in shimmering thermals to their prey.
While she fought the moon for the firmament,
memories of grasses dried,
died and sprung again.

There was no game.
Little life remained to cross my path;
while time passed on too fast to pause
and wait for me to dig
rabbits of freedom with my dog.
So kicking my boots with the talcum sand
I rapidly walked the road.

I met the oldest oak
and kind moss-fingered
ponderous limbs
asked to oak-leaf me and lift
and heft and hold my weight.
I left my boots
and I swung,
shimmied,
jumped and crawled
to the very
tip-
top . . .
where the gaps in the cool green leaves
glimpsed the golden splendor of the sky,
of sundown.

I saw and swore I would not descend,
never walk on bloodless
to the black highway —
But when from a perfect airplant cup
uncurled a curious circus coral snake,
I had to climb down from my limbs in fear,
unripe. He came too near.

Had I met him,
let him kiss my hand,
I could have hugged the rough old bark as tight
as now these bars, my ribs —
I would have dried,
fertilly burning, someday maybe sprouting
Ressurection Fern.

 

Trinity Review – 1967

The Swamp

I enter quick,
Rabbit-scared of the dry sticks,
Crackling reeds and weeds, once-watered sedge;
Dry fear, dangerous, eats at the swamp’s crisp edge.

With the muddening of the earth
My scampering softens to a slink;
Lungs reach tenderly to touch the humus stink,
Shrink, but stay; I give dead stumps less berth.

Gracefully crawling now by scummy pools,
I hide in spidery grasses, feel small fishes
Nibbling like persistent wishes;
Softly at first the swamp asserts its rules.

Insects, intermittent frog-falls intersperse
The silence; alligator calls now echo low.
Coiled and bead-eyed, I need not rehearse
The slither or the strike — for now I know
The serpent’s still-imperfect marriage; more,
That even this fearless moccasin form of man
Pays obeisance to the land.
All’s as before.

 

Trinity Review – 1967

Public Image

Now
Deep in the muddled reaches of
Nearly landlocked inlet tide
Rises in dark a desolate verdant mountain,
Mangrove-ringed, a peak of motionless pine;
Buoyed on the salt-sweet oyster-studded mud, its speech
Whip-poor-wills peacefully through the night,
Whispers the substance is not in sight.
Bathed in the carbon light that leers from the human beach,
Effigy island inverted, admired in wine:
Eyes give symmetry to the greenery fountain
Seeming to flow from just inside
Itself — the whip-poor-will tells with love
How.

 

Trinity Review – 1967

Middlemen

The pilot of the droning plane above cannot conceive
the lazy summer sound his craft’s exploding pistons leave
to swim through waves of warmth to us, who, watching far below,
in turn cannot conceive the kinesthesia he must know.
Sit and listen, how the swimmers splash across the lake;
they can never step away and hear the sounds they make,
and so are only singing, never listen to the song.
The dead can stand detached, but cannot live through life along
with swimmers, pilots, all: the superficial and the rest,
who feel life’s essence; we, apart but feeling, can know best
their vices and their virtues — climbing hopes and crawling fears;
our power to observe outweighs the retrospect of years.
Things which cannot feel themselves are also in our view:
Tin roofs dulled with rust, a live oak’s mottled shade, a hue
of sunset’s autumn: such as these we add to our wide store
of feelings and appraisals, which, combined, make something more.

 

Trinity Review – 1965