Category Archives: poetry

Still More Sad

First.

Today in Steubenville, OH,  a man shot and wounded the judge who was overseeing a wrongful death lawsuit again him. The shooter, who was killed, was the father of a Steubenville High School football player who, when he was 16, was convicted of raping a 16 year-old girl.

Second

James Wright, a poet whose work was well known in the 1960’s and 70’s, was born in Martin’s Ferry, WV. Martins Ferry is next door to Steubenville, OH. It is (and was) coal country, and both towns and the area generally have always been stressed economically. Wright’s most famous poem (it’s brief) is titled “Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, OH.”  It is about high school football. It is about poverty and despair and violence.  It is about how the brief moments of high school glory can help folks (young and old) to momentarily forget.

Three

I hope you will take a few moments to notice and work through how the news story plays off the poem, how it enriches the poem, how it makes life still more sad.

Four

AUTUMN BEGIN IN MARTINS FERRY, OH

In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.

All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.

Therefore,
Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other’s bodies.

This Man Leaping

andre-kertesz

I’m back with a photo. I went looking for something, and here’s what I found: This man leaping. It’s by Andre Kertesz. Who I had never heard of. But then there’s lots and lots of photographers, of course. But you dig and dig and sometimes you find something. A photo worth spending time with. Why? Because you can look at it and look at it. Like you can read a book and reread the book. Or listen to a song and re-listen to the song. Dylan, Monk, Monroe, Bach, Continue reading

Mostly Cold at Our Place, But a Little Warm

For the last five minutes or so, six wild turkeys have been reaching for the last of last year’s fruit from one of our dwarf crab apple trees. Back-to-back snowstorms have elevated the birds such that with heavy hops up they can occasionally score fruit.

But mostly they miss. Mostly the turkeys have been going slowly around the tree, necks up-stretched, only to plunge time and again through snow up to their bellies. That and in-fighting, shoo-shooing each other away from the tree. Continue reading

Why She So Often Stands Barefooted With Lettuces

Because even with seven billion of us notwithstanding, there’s always enough anxiety. And because barefooted, she’s noticed, is how lettuces do it. No matter the winds, the suns, the mid-morning spiders, no matter the hails that slice them down…it’s always earth they reach for, their tiny toes pushing down down. And kind earth, ever longstanding, holds them. That’s why, see. That holding. That’s why so she often stands barefooted with lettuces.