If you happen to be near Woodstock, New York, this September, please stop by the Golden Notebook on Saturday, Sept. 12, when I will be reading new and selected poems at a Woodstock Poetry Society event. The reading begins at 2 p.m.
Originally posted on kensalzmann:
Once, we had ample time to neglect a garden.
As sometimes happens, that line, those syllables, rattled around in my head for years before finding what seems to be a fitting home in a poem. For now, in any case.
Of course, along the way the line has tried to settle into any number of poems I ultimately discarded, unconvinced that they ‘worked’ in one way or another. In the end–if that is what the published version is–the poem grew ever shorter, more compact, and (I can hope) became a fitting vehicle for the insistent line that demanded it be written.
Planting the Hyacinth Bean Vines
Planting the hyacinth bean vines today
in compost it took us all season to make
from the insistent decay of daily lives rich
in unread newspapers, orange rinds,
eggshells, the cores of apples,
compliant twigs, fallen leaves,
one of us might have thought to…
View original 90 more words
No one saw the plum tree this year ease
into its cloak of springtime blossoms
in the same week the forsythia
proclaimed the sun, in the same week
the hospital demanded all the living
we could muster. No one watched new buds
prepare for lace in the ironic promise
of fruit that will not come in later spring.
There was a year when plums formed and
dropped from this isolated, barren tree
despite the certainties of borrowed science,
and there have been years spent far from
the hospital and far from ironic promises
of a spring that never stops arriving,
each time to blossom and bear fruit against
familiar probabilities. No one saw the plum
tree come into full bloom this year;
even so, it remains our godly gift
to watch over it while each petal falls
and each tender leaf searches for its shape.
Originally posted on kensalzmann:
Chances are you never were a student in Mrs. Levitt’s class.
But you may have known her anyway, if by a different name and in a different place and time. For I don’t know how many hundreds of us, she was that remarkable teacher whose lessons continued to resonate through the decades and throughout our lives. For I don’t know how many hundreds of us, she became a lifelong friend and inspiration.
That’s why, when we learned that her disease was terminal and her dementia rapidly progressive, a number of us created a Facebook group called “Mrs. Levitt’s Class,” where generations of her students compiled a sort of accidental anthology as a tribute, and a final “thank you.”
Over the course of her illness and beyond–a couple of years, as things turned out–the Facebook posts accumulated and formed what I think is a remarkable portrait of a remarkable person. Nearing…
View original 138 more words
Freddie Hubbard on the bandstand
blowing away at abstract truth
until up jumped spring
and we smoke the darkness
of Paul’s Mall just as if
it will go on forever—
jazzed breath ascending
endlessly heavenward through
the coils of the flugelhorn—
and just as if one jazzedsex waitress
is still returning to our table
like first light, all lips without sound
when the trumpet washes over
the shape of her words
and we order another round,
another round if only for the sake
of the intervals sculpted by her
wordless tongue and teeth
on this again our maiden voyage.
Copyright 1998, 2014 by Kenneth Salzmann
You can hear Freddie Hubbard’s rendition of “Up Jumped Spring” on Youtube: http://youtu.be/khby51sf82s
And when all was done then said,
it wasn’t his flaws that caused
him to disappear.
Often enough he had willed that to be so,
wishing to become as insubstantial as
the bundled absence of all he lacked.
But as things turned out
it was a random strand of virtue
that rendered him invisible.
Ones who should have known better
tugged and teased that thread into prominence,
then magnified it beyond all meaning.
Old friends spoke of strength and courage.
New friends suspected him of gentle grace.
He insisted he stood falsely accused,
Offering his alibi to a myopic mirror
that, upon reflection, denied
any impression of him at all.
A face that may have been
shadow and flame upon
a pillow of fallen leaves
once when my fingers
traced eyes and lips across the night
until the source of her mystery
burned my flesh beyond forgetting
is now forgotten,
but these hands remember
what it is to touch.