Friday, August 03, 2007

New Poem (Replaced By One By Stanley Kunitz)

I haven't written anything since the Monterey poems (I hate to move) except for blogging and the workshop poems - but they don't count, as they are gifts from the goddesses and not like a "real" worked on poem. And finally this:

Hey, you weren't quick enough! This poem is being replaced by one of my long time favorites by one of my spirit-mentors, Stanley Kunitz (known affectionately by me as "The Cucumber.") This poem was originally published in the American Poetry Review as a back page spread with the poem and one of my favorite pics of The Cucumber in his captain's hat at a jaunty angle and his soulful eyes standing in his garden in Provincetown among his (what else?) cucumbers. I had this page mounted on cardboard and it hung over my writing desk for nearly a couple of decades, traveling with me to a couple of states (of mind and elsewhere) as one of my "muses" (along with a mujer Zapatista, a Cuban woman cutting cane with a machete, a drawing of Frida's eyebrows and an older grandmotherly looking librarian in Ohio or somewhere saying: "I want to hang glide" and meaning it.) The poem on cardboard is in some portfolio somewhere of unpacked art in Colorado. I place it here - to remind me.

And, if you missed my new poem, email me at PoetDee care of "mac" youknow-youknow (I get enough spam) and I'll try and send it to you. Peace.

The Layers

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

Stanley Kunitz
reprinted in Fooling with Words: A Celebration of Poets and Their Craft by Bill Moyers (New York: Perennial/HarperCollins, 1999)

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