Saturday, February 19, 2011

Blast From the Past

One Stop Poetry is featuring a look backwards into ourselves today, and asked for postings from the very beginning. I couldn't pick between these two, so you have both my single published poem that ever won a prize, Dialogues with Angela, and another called Dead Poets. Dates are approximate, but both were written when I was between 16 and 19 years old. I have strenuously resisted the urge to polish or rewrite, and you have them here as they came off my battered Smith Corona.

Dialogues with Angela

I can see from here quick squirrels
and the trees they run quarreling over
and the parallel swamps of street and sky,
stumbled over by birds or boys.
And, from here,
the cats, black and bitter, trotting over the frozen ground.
        “An infinity of interconnection,” she intoned.
        “Everything is hungry”

I took a grey walk through harmonious vacancy
but through some miss of chance I saw
‘Franz Kafka was Here’ red-chalked on subway walls
and laughing, she said,
        “That kills me.” but refused obstinately
        to fall in front of the train.

We walked hand in hand, through the greenhouse.
It may be that day winds are dark winds,
but the flowers are to be loved.
I pointed to the tables of petaled cream, of smoked white
and suggestive smoothness.
And Angela, gently pointed:
        “The magnolias,” she said, pausing significantly,
        “have dry rot.”

We went on sadly together, our eyes folding
on faces frozen in suspension,
The real cows are not in pasture,I told her,
Prudent chewing, producing contented milk.
Cows and squirrels and mice are fat and happy in the city.
        “Kangaroos and camels are beautiful,” she muttered,
        “And I think it’s a pity there should be none here.”


Dead Poets

There are no more poets, the frosts have killed them off
in their Floridian orange groves, once long ago
the copses of Aphrodite.
The long north wind blowing from America has taken them
with the trees it turned to slime.

The poets were banalized to death,
pursued by Daughters of the American Revolution,
social secretaries,
and in their turning sleep
the ghosts of Mid West college boards hunted them down
with speaking appointments before creative writing seminars.

Their eyes grew shadowed with a lack of dissipation
and they took to yogurt and NET,
sobbing sometimes in the night loud enough to be heard
by their wives and wishing machines.

But one was found, running naked down a Pacific beach
with daisies braided in his pubic hair and
smack tears puddled  on his thistled face screaming
weeping diamonds of words to the L.A. cops,
who belched a little as they booked him,


for he had given his name to the little gods
and the graves of his youth.

Written sometime between 1966 and 1969
(NET refers to the extinct network, National Educational Television)

Posted for A Saturday Celebration~Your Past  at the inimitable OneStopPoetry


  1. i like them were already a good writer back in 1966...and i wasn't even born there's hope...smiles

  2. Hedgewitch, it slays me how talented you are, how even in the cheekiness of your youth, the distinctiveness of your voice and your inimitable imagery shine through. I love these poems, and I actually got choked up at the end of Dead Poets. It's our gift that you continue to share yours.

  3. Your gift was already plainly evident even then, dear friend. I liked the first one, it has a playfulness I'm not used to in your work, and although I'm sure there's lines you would clean up, and a little Simon & Gar to be weeded out, I nonetheless enjoyed the snot out of it. "Everything is hungry." Eat your heart out, Bruce Springsteen. Da Witch had already been there done that with the hungry heart. Watch and learn, dude! The last stanza is the real star here, though. I just love it. Brautigan would have sent you a fan letter had he read it.

    But the second one! The sharp eye you still have today in a more seasoned form is so hard at work here, already. The second stanza is so good. Suck it, seminars! "Wishing machines"? So jarring to imagine a machine for something as amorphous as dreaming. I'm liking that. But it's the entire scene on the beach, with the daisies and weeping diamonds of words to disinterested cops, that winds this up like a good hard punch. He was naked in more ways than one, and we see how little the workaday world cares for that nakedness.

    It would have been a crime if you hadn't picked up writing again, Witchy. A class A felony.

  4. Oh my goodness, such brilliant writing, right from the beginning! Absolutely fantastic writing, Hedgewitch! I especially adore Dialogues With Angela. And love the image of a naked man with flowers in his pubic hair running along the Pacific. Sigh - my man that got away, hee hee! You are one brilliant poet, gal. I love these.

  5. Excellent ! have had this gift for Life and used it well,,,I'm so glad I came by

    Peace, hp

    pass by if you can

  6. Both are spellbinding, hedgewitch. I'm glad you let them be...they are beautiful. I will revisit them again and again.

    I miss my Smith Corona...sigh...

  7. Juvenilia is the raw spring without the all the later, latter incursions of craft. The first poem is so ripe with internal rhymes searching for a scheme and deciding it needs none, that the flow of sound is enough .. The second has the volume and menace of a proper rock 'n' roll song, howling above the din of so much settling for settling for. What's changed, after all these years? - Brendan

  8. I too must echo Claudia's sentiments. I love the imagery in Dead Poets especially. Excellent stuff from your archives Hedgewitch. Nice

  9. But one was found, running naked down a Pacific beach
    with daisies braided in his pubic hair and
    smack tears puddled on his thistled face screaming
    weeping diamonds of words to the L.A. cops,
    who belched a little as they booked him,
    for he had given his name to the little gods
    and the graves of his youth.

    YES! This is so good I may write a poetic follow up. Best word that comes to mind is prophetic.

  10. A teenager wrote these poems? Amazing!

  11. i really like the second one...they are both i was thinking poetry back then...did write some songs 16 in 69 makes you...oh wait, never mind...smiles.

  12. Very nice, I am amazed this happened when you were 16. You have quite the gift (but then you already knew it, I'm just verifying for myself), I'm glad I know you and got to see a little bit of history. Great works here!

  13. These are fabulous :) Thank god I stopped by and didn't miss them :D

  14. p.s. I started writing on an antique typewriter too, banging away on it most of my life, till my boss forced me to learn the joys of a computer, for which I bless him. Because the typewriter had two broken keys and I had to fill in the missing letters by hand!!!!!!Plus I typed in a frenzy and everything was colored with globs of white liquid paper. Oh those were the days!

  15. Thanks so much all for being gentle with my youthful efforts. My good friend Fireblossom in her wisdom says we are all harder on ourselves than on others in these things.

    @Brian--you are so smart for figuring out I am old! Whippersnapper.

    @Brendan--some has changed, mostly the body but I think a little ossifying of the brain in places perhaps, too.

    @TALON & Sherry--I don't miss my old typewriter--I was forever having to go back with the eraser strips and white-out too, and forgetting to capitalize or having to type over mistakes--the first time I saw a word processing program I was in love for life. the only thing I miss is that really cool typing sound and the ka-ching of throwing the roller back every line. That was kinda fun.

  16. The second stanza of Dead Poets is freaking brilliant.

  17. I was a mere five back then and to think that a young person could be so versatile and well read. Wow, you were well on your way...way back then.

  18. Wow! That long ago and this masterful! What a gift you are to us all, Joy. I like both poems but I read the second one to relish the last stanza "...the "daisies braided in his pubic hair", especially the last lines how he became anon...the "name he gave to the little gods and the graves of his youth." I love that!

  19. Both of your poems are wonderful to read and inspiring as well. And I will echo everyone else who has already said, what a gift you have and are. Especially like the second one, but find both of them amazing for your age and insight. Kudos,


  20. bloody out my poem at 16 to shame...these are both top drawer....1966 eh? amazing...again another poet that has captured the essence of the celebration and has helped unearth two gems..cheers pete


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats