Who Possesses a Poem?

A collection by Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall

Who Possesses a Poem?

Just as a father passes on to his child
The popular music of his long-lost youth
A teacher passes on to those in his care
The ‘way-cool poetry of his own lost youth

Where once we hid McKuen behind Millay
Young people today hide – but we don’t know what they hide
That is the nature of hiding and hidden
But they’re hiding something, and that’s good

We celebrated the verse of our youth
For youth celebrate their own private verse

Is “Poetess” Acceptable?

But of course
Just take it
And wake it
Remake it

Empower it
And it’s yours

On Reading Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic

Kaminsky takes our neat constructions and breaks
Them back into their atoms, primordial chaos
So that we are reminded that before Creation
There were all those silences laying around

Atoms reminded chaos bits that takes before before before breaks

our and

primordial around are we Kaminsky constructions into back atoms them lying Creation those silences reminded so were there

A poet organizes sounds into meanings
Kaminsky reminds us to pay closer attention
to the silences

Remembering Rod McKuen

But of course some are vituperative – they aren’t him
The young still read his books, discreetly now
Because he isn’t cool in this unhappy time
The old still read his books – he saved their youth

But of course some are vituperative – they aren’t you
The young will read your books someday and know
That you have captured on paper their lives
And they will give their hearts freely to you

I hear that you are thinking of giving up poetry
You shouldn’t, you know – because while it is true
That you have a gift, you should always remember
That you are a gift, and the young need you

Upon Reading W. B. Yeats

I am not a Celt;
I am English, and my gods
Are more logical

You Russian Poets
“Only in Russia is poetry respected. It gets people killed. Is there anywhere else where poetry is so common a motive for murder?”
-Osip Mandelstam, murdered by the Soviet state for his poetry

We have gotten into trouble over you
Back in the Cold War and now this hot one
But maybe the investigators’ fear
Was not Communism, but mere literacy

O Mandelstam, you died for words and truth
They say, dear Tsvetaeva, that you hanged yourself
And Gumilyov, they simply had you shot –
The Silver Age in truth was one of lead

In America no one dies for poetry
Working fast food can be a death penalty, though

Poem in image by Robert Frost

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