Ash-Friday: Without Apology or Attack*
by Julie Adams
April 7, 2006
Like any devout poet
I made today holy.
for he is a man, after all
who blinks and limps
with the burden of a full
life, heavy on the lids and legs
like my father, really
but for the whole poetry thing,
and his varnished truths and
but it is Ash-Friday,
the first in fact, and I came
to hear the meal of his
words, I swallow
like pre-chewed worms
from his loaded tongue.
As I listen, I giggle
and dive, like Alice
into his burrowing verse
weaving after each fluffy white tail
highlighted with his faint blond wisps
at his temples
they kneel with me, peeking in
to watch his thoughts travel in 3D,
hop a paper plane with Ashbery to Paris
or Guadalajara and back
to Rochester, next stop: Harlem!
The gradual wealth procured there
atop his skeletal stem, heavy
aspiration like marrow, deepen
his rippling coral mind caverns, to breed poems.
His spine worn with time
like a bible, opened
and bent enough to crack
comfort into it.
Toss the tools, the flashlight
let me feel my way through
let his Braille poetry massage the fingers of time
days gone, stacked into the corner
a dog-eared pile with today on top,
paper still warm
a collection of imbued magnetic charges
held within each page, orbiting
a sophisticated jungle
of swinging vines and flowering pathways
that lead to no place in particular
but his poems beckon me further
like a pack of wild future tenses
they dig into me, and I dig
into the him thats never and always present
on the page, omniscient
a badger, caught
on stage, eyes ablaze
each its own constellation
beyond the black hole
of the random and colossal
he reads, glowing
between breaths and humor
despite the muddy paws of farm life
he walks between
the trees and tribulations
in varied subtleties, living
on the outskirts, even amidst
writers slash painters slash experimentalists
his poets-eye view swooping up
the changing, like seasons or
seasoned, like Hitchcock.
His poetry has talons
outstretched and curved
on a limb that sways, not
with the critic or year but
with the wind of his hearts content
years beyond his typewriter
and the binding jackets of poems
that fight to breathe freely;
live their own life.
He wonders if it makes a difference...
And I have to wonder at this.
Dramatic irony stands before me
seventy-nine years young, shimmering
in a gold-speckled tie that ducks
beneath the tide of his lapping neck
where poems sleep
waiting, as we do, to see
what he does next.
The cranes cry out
bewitched by the moon
calling back the setting sun.
Author's Note: * without...attack: plucked from the text of David Lehman's The Last Avant-Garde, an in depth look into the lives of the New York School poets.
This came to me as a response to attending the Ashbery Festival this weekend. I enjoyed his reading and I hope you enjoy my poetic response!
Posted on 04/10/2006
Copyright © 2021 Julie Adams
|Member Comments on this Poem|
|Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 04/10/06 at 06:34 PM|
I found this piece to be quite moving spiritually, eclectic in its humanity and place in the world. Kudos Jewels.
|Posted by Olivia Martin on 04/10/06 at 08:06 PM|
Amazing craft you have here! I love all the wonderful allusions, the imagery, the diction - this piece is just so rich and wonderful!
|Posted by Lacy D Phillips on 04/11/06 at 03:04 PM|
|Posted by Charles E Minshall on 04/12/06 at 07:30 PM|
I do enjoy the response Julie....Charlie
|Posted by Mara Meade on 04/12/06 at 08:06 PM|
This is like watching a web being spun - from here, to there, to over here, to another point and then back again... what incredible touchstones you use... and the finished product makes me ponder... Wow.
|Posted by Gregory O'Neill on 04/12/06 at 09:57 PM|
Lucky you, bet the Ashbery fete was great. This is eclectic, even Ashbery-esque. Great reading! Thanks.
|Posted by Jim Benz on 04/12/06 at 10:34 PM|
this poetic response is TREMENDOUS. you done good, very very good.
|Posted by Michelle Angelini on 11/18/06 at 04:43 AM|
Jewels, like Bernadette, I don't normally like long poems, but you have done such a masterful job with your words, images, form and theme that I was hooked. Indeed, your poem has "talons" to grab the reader and not let them go until the very last word. Voting for POTD!