June and Poets

Brian Doyle is dead.

My heart aches to hear such news.

Probably not as much as the hearts of his immediate family and those closest to him. Condolences and love to those he has left behind.

Portland author Brian Doyle left the planet recently at age 60.

I did not know him personally but I have read a few of his words in such beautiful books as Mink River, The Plover, The Thorny Grace of It. To open one his books was to be bathed, tickled and sung to with words. Words set up as complicated traps for the mind and heart, the lure: humor, the human condition observed-words bending like a gymnast.

I was first introduced to Brian Doyle in his book Mink River, it was not an instant love affair. His long descriptive sentences demanded me to get on board and breathe deep the world that he created and ride the waves of lush wordsmithery.  This required attention. I was lazy. His words made me want to stop being lazy. I wanted to see how he would describe moving water or birds circling or a woman looking at a tree. His writing made me hungry.
Until next time, be well and write poetry in the medium of your choice for the living and the dead.
Poem for Brian Doyle

When poets die

Ellipses grieve

dashes moan

italics slump with the heaviness of loss

while the empty page weights

until the empty page waits

for the pounce of a printer

for the scratch of a pencil

for the caress of pen

backs of business cards cry out

napkins weep

notebooks and notepads rock back and forth reciting prayers

When poets die

my heart craves their yarn

my tongue thirst for their cadence on my lips

my heart seeks that simple line that took 5 years

to tell the truth

When poets die, I cling to their arms and legs:

their books


I’ve got a brand new pair of….shhhhh

Publicité de 1908 vendant des patins à roulett...
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Recently, guitarist Vince Brown and I  had a chance to make a music together and as usual, had a grand ole time.

We had a chance to share our musical alter egos, Red and Ruby,  filling a couple evenings with  tunes from the 20’s and 30’s with a few contemporary  tunes thrown in.  With Red, it’s always new, the arrangements, well, they are never the same twice, which always keeps it fresh.

You know what else keeps gigs fresh?  The audiences. A song sparks a memory in a listeners mind which bubbles up from some deep recess  of the past and it has to be shared.   Songs for many people are aural journal entries, marking time, the sweetness and the sour.

At one gig, a  woman, whose name I didn’t catch, related how she loved to dance, but her dad wouldn’t let her go to dances because there was an army base near by and well, you know how soldiers are. Vince and I nodded. She then got a sparkle in her eye, ” But my father couldn’t stop me from dancing,” she paused dramatically. ” I got a medal for artistic roller skating.”

Honestly, she lost me. A who, huh, huh huh wha?  “Artistic roller skating.” She  repeated these words, probably  because my mouth was slightly ajar as the Google in my mind returned “no search results.”

“Yeah, artistic roller skating was real popular,”  she said.  And maybe I had been  reading too many Weekly World News headlines while waiting in line at the supermarket, but I could have sworn that she looked over her shoulder and lowered her voice a little before adding “until the ice people shut us down”.

You can do what  I did and go on line to learn more about ice skating’s  secret sibling. Who knew?

I must admit, my mind enjoys chewing on a conspiracy theory with this new knowledge. Ice skaters,  shrouded by the darkness of an empty locker room, hacking off the wheel frame with a newly sharpened ice skating blade, separating it cleanly from the boot, laughing a little maniacally  minutes before  the  big rollerskating competition begins.

Ball bearings swimming with the fishes.

It was at that moment, I realized that it was time to sing. This thinking stuff can get dangerous.

Did I mention? It was a good gig.

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