Category Archives: Poetry

Something time forgot

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Back in the 1960s browsing around book stores a person used to find 33 1/3 LP records of poets reading their own poetry.  I bought several and always enjoyed listening to Robert Frost, TS Eliot, Archibald MacLeish and several others.  Those poor old LPs were awfully scratchy and beat up by the time cassette tapes came along and I converted those I could.

But toward the end of LP-days along came Rod McKuen and I suppose made everyone a bit shy about admitting they listened to poetry.  I’m telling you now I listened to part of a Rod McKuen LP once, so shoot me for a dumbass.

Anyway somewhere back there my tapes ran away with a fancy machine designed to play them and it’s been a long time since I’ve heard Frost, MacLeish, Penn Warren, or TS Eliot, among others.  Missed it considerable.

But here in my dotage in Olathe, KS, there’s a lady who works at the County Library who was once an English Major.  She takes delight in getting me whatever the library has on almost anything.  I’ve consumed books on low sodium cooking, for instance, and am currently reading some new Terry Pratchett.

So lately when I got hankering to find some MP3 recordings converted from those mentioned naturally she was my database.  The bad news is a lot of it is still in libraries somewhere on vinyl, never converted even to tape.  You can find my favorite MacLeish on Amazon on LP for $4.77 used, but nothing even on tape.  Or you can get it Interlibrary loan from NY Public Library on LP.

Anyway I got Frost converted from CD to MP3, along with an assortment of other CD anthologies and spang sent them back to the library, ordering more.  And today I’ve got another stack  she brought home last night.  TS Eliot and The Spoken Arts Treasury Volume 1 [6 CD] of a large variety of poets reading their own poetry if they were still alive when recording devices were invented.

I also have a 2 CD set of the Mills Brothers, 1931-1968 I’ll be converting to MP3.  Truly looking forward to hearing it.

But the technology is moving so fast by the time I get them on MP3 probably something will come along assuring they’ll be lost to history some other way.  Heck, there aren’t enough people interested in Archibald MacLeish, Carl Sandburg, to justify someone commercially to preserve them.  Not anyone after cassette tapes came along.

Ezra Pound spent the years of his life after WWII in confined exile because he got so enthusiastic about Italian fascism, entirely because Il Duce supported the arts.

If poor old Ezry had recorded all those endless cantos he penned from 1945 until he died I suppose it would be one hell of a treasury to convert to MP3.  I’m probably the only person on the planet who wouldn’t listen to it.

Old Jules

Where desert mountain waits

Sun dried jerky of your past
Lies heavy on the stomach-heart
Grumbles, protests, lingers
Long, long after cactus
Arid faith
Uprooted by a desert mountain
Cloudburst flood
Has withered, blunted tines
No longer barbed
While jerky past still grumbles
Lies heavy on the stomach heart.

Lie still and watch
Lantern sun swings overhead
This banner day
Sliver moon salutes from darkened sky

Take heart.  Take heart.  Take heart.

Move the grumble upward to a song
To tines’ decay

Take heart take heart take heart

While dormant hidden succulents
Await return of desert mountain
Cloud burst flood
And full moon rises.

Jack Purcell, From Poems of the New Old West, copyright 2003, NineLives Press

 

Hell, since I’m posting poems I wrote about depression

Written sometime between 11pm and 7am at the what?  Roadway Inn? motel, anyway, Grants, New Mexico.    Probably 2002, 2003.  Hell, it wasn’t me who was depressed.  Can’t recall what inspired this:

The Voyeur

Soul sucked darkness from eternity
Fashioned this, my tiny room;
This monumental construct of infirmity;
This animated tomb
With a peephole to observe
The profanity:
The bell shaped curve
Of insanity.

From Poems of the New Old West, copyright 2003, NineLives Press, Jack Purcell

Sylvia Plath and so many other suicides

Hi readers.  Someone female sitting in the lobby late one night tossed The Bell Jar aside and groaned a curse.  Headed for the wagon yard, I reckons.  So I picked up Plath’s tome and read enough to remember everything else I ever knew, ever wanted to know about Sylvia Plath.  Most vividly I remembered a poem, Daddy, by Ms Plath.  Some University of Texas poetry course caused me to write a ten page paper about it once.

I learned to hate the thought Sylvia Plath and her lot shared this planet with regular human beings.  And after reading a while on Bell Jar, chunking it, I wrote this:

Virus of the mind

The drumbeat litany of hatred
And blame;
Of smug mindless naiveté
Numbs the mind.
Alienation is a welcome gift
From the universe
When it involves the inability
To identify with THAT.

The preoccupation with death
As though death is an unnatural state,
Created by a dark maker for the shallow purpose
Of providing a source of terror and sadness
For tiny humans;
Leaves me with a yearning:

Just once I’d like to see a poem
Just once.
A poem full of truths:

“I gave you permission
to hurt me and make me angry;
because of my illusions and expectations
you never agreed to satisfy
and didn’t
now I’m angry.

“I wanted you to behave a certain way.
Because I wanted it, I demanded it
In my expectations of you
without saying so.

“I wanted you to give up your choices.
I didn’t want it
because giving them up would make you
happier
Or more fulfilled.
I just wanted it because I wanted it.

“I’m used to getting my way.
I’ll hate you if I don’t get it.

“I’ll hate you fiercely
and if that doesn’t work
I’ll threaten to kill myself
Just to get you back.”

Or,

“I’m angry.  I’ve always been angry.
Life isn’t fair and it pisses me off.
I haven’t gotten everything I want.
Sometimes my parents weren’t kind to me;
Didn’t give me what I wanted.

“I talk to my friends and they’re angry, too.
The more we talk the more we realize life isn’t fair
And it pisses us off.

“We talk among ourselves
About how cool it would be
To kill some of those flawed bastards
We don’t like.

“We savor our anger; our hatred
We wallow in it
And think of different ways we’d like to kill
The bastards we don’t like;
How much we’d enjoy killing.
We all know
Because took a voice vote.

“Some nerd who wears his glasses crooked
And isn’t cool;
Some football jock who gets all the girls
We’d like to get;
We hate the girls and the jocks.

“Some sarcastic adult who isn’t cool
And doesn’t respect our views
About how the world is.

“We’d like to kill them all.
We took a voice vote
And we all agree.”

“We haven’t studied much
Nor read much
Nor lived much
Nor listened much
But that doesn’t keep us
From knowing how life is;
How life should be.”

“We’re angry and we’d like to kill them all!
We took a voice vote.

“And by God you’ll see
You’ll be sorry
When I kill myself!”

And the Ted Hugheses of the world , the Daddys

Sort through selective memories to avoid the truth

About this creature they loved.

From Poems of the New Old West, copyright 2003 Jack Purcell

Suicide: Make it count, son. There’s money to be made.

Hi readers.  Shortly after I came back to town after The End of Life As We Know It and the Y2K I gave myself [you can probably find the stories of that by searching the blog for Y2K] I went to work graveyard shift.  Travel Lodge, maybe, or Motor Inn, night clerk.  11pm-7am.  That story’s here somewhere, too.

Those nights in that motel were always long, sometimes interesting, never boring.  At least not to me, but I don’t recall ever having been bored this lifetime.

One night a guy came down from his room and sat in the lobby, just wanted to talk.  He was in town as part of a team cleaning up a particularly messy suicide.  That’s what he did for a living.  Travelled all over the place where suicides happened and left a terrible mess, maybe a hazardous one.

Interesting guy, with a perspective about suicide and life that I mightn’t agree with, but am glad I encountered anyway.  So sometime one of those long nights later I wrote this thing I might have once called a poem:

Industry

Brain soup on steel rails,
Creosote and gravel
Is tasteless and inconsiderate.

What a waste, you say.
It keeps people employed
I say.

Lawsuits, insurance forms
Police reports
Accident reports
For a non accident.

Clerks, cops, lawyers
Funeral directors
Morticians
And the little guy.

Someone has to clean up
Those brain and bloodstains
On the walls and carpets;
Pick the bone fragments
Out of the doorframe
With a pair of needle nosed pliers;
Plug the holes
Re paint. 
Mop up those
Sidewalk body fluids
Untangle the lariat
Or phone cord
From the light fixture
Scrub bathtub
crimson rings.

Someone has to manufacture
Sleeping pills
Bullets
Razorblades
Ropes.

And hospital beds
For the faint of heart.

Some of that’s still
Made in America
(Good quality, too
And I’m damned proud
To say it.)

It’s hard times.
A man has to go where the work is.

What a waste, you say.
It keeps people employed
I say.
It’s commerce.

From Poems of the New Old West, copyright 2003, NineLives Press, Jack Purcell

Old Jules

MIA – Permanent Mouse Patrol – Niaid

Missing a couple of  days now.  Hopefully she's just on an extended adventure, but she's got Hydrox and me missing her a lot.  Last time I saw her, night-before-last I was noticing she was losing a lot of weight, skin and bones under all that fur.  But she rested on my chest purring and demanding affection an hour-or-so during the night, ate heartily, drank a lot of water. Not a bad final approach to the active runway out of here.  Jack

Missing a couple of days now. Hopefully she’s just on an extended adventure, but she’s got Hydrox and me missing her a lot. Last time I saw her, night-before-last I was noticing she was losing a lot of weight, skin and bones under all that fur. But she rested on my chest purring and demanding affection an hour-or-so during the night, ate heartily, drank a lot of water.
Not a bad final approach to the active runway out of here. Jack

The Cat in the Wood – Archibald MacLeish

The cat in the wood cried farewell cried farewell
Farther and farther away and the leaves
Covered her over with the sound of the leaves
And the sound of the wood O my love O my love
Farther and farther away and the sound
Of leaves overhead when I call to you
Leaves on the ground.

Socorro, NM, 1996 - 1997 On loan from Mel to provide company for Hydrox, her litter-mate.  Beginning the long road home.

Socorro, NM, 1996 – 1997 On loan from Mel to provide company for Hydrox, her litter-mate. Beginning the long road home.

Naiad sunset placitas

Executive Privilege

Little Red2

Human brain Fido
Inside his chainlink fence
Joins full moon sky concert
With Rufus and Poochie
Down the block
On their chains;

Cock their ears
And wonder, wonder
Why the faint coyote calls
Why a whiff of rotten elk meat
In the garbage
Drives them wild

Old Jules