A Great Poet

Famous Last Words
Robert Wooten
In His Steps Publishing
2007

Not as a general thing in New York.

But this is only if the poetry
doesn’t work out, grandmother—
a last resort or short-cut to the fame
that is in store for me

“Famous Last Words”

 

   ...I walked three miles to teach­—haha
students with whom I was not all that
popular; I did just what I was supposed
to do...

“Non-Issue”

 

The kids
don’t know anything
about it.

Barb and I think
we’ll protect
their innocence.

“Death Restaurant”

 

All of my teachers were wise.  Night after night for years
I really tried to imagine having sex with them.

“I Believe”

A sonnet, in this day and age (Borges, Nemerov).

Knowing Love

There is an aura about wisdom—

a quietude that is the outgrowth of

knowing that one does not or does know love,

as when one is unsure of what will come.

When standing, for example, at the edge

of a wide field, one knows that there is one

path for one across it and walking to be done;

that is the path that one must choose.  The knowledge

of good and evil is another matter.

How very nice to stand there and refuse

to know love’s way through it.  That love may choose

the liberty to know that love knows better—

in the time before one makes one’s path,

before each judgment and its aftermath.

Among others.

A faith in you is greater than the truth
that everything will balance in the end.

“On Learning That Bachelors Suffer a Higher Mortality Rate”

Nabokovian roundelay.

I lost control and skidded as I slowed.
A pick-up camper’s top was in the road.

“The Accident”

Frost and more Frost.

Leaffall

There was a leaf warning
in effect—for all wooded areas—
in the apartments,

large accumulations expected
on sidewalks and on curbs
and in the yards, a great depth.
Raymond was the only leaf kicker
on duty.  He kicked up the leaf trails
from the yards to the sidewalk
and from the sidewalk to the curb.
Sometimes, he found work gloves
or rakes—beneath it all,

lost or abandoned in the leaffall

where it had become too heavy.
Locally, it fell light and dry,
with leafscatter general,
even on the roads and the rooftops.
He could not keep the trails clear,
yet, still, he continued;
for, with rain and wind expected
by nightfall, there was a chance
of additional drifting and accumulation.
Without the constant kicking
the new trails would be lost.

 

 

The House

When the grandfather clock no longer ticked,

the house kept its own schedule—snorts and wheezes,

fumblings in the dark and abrupt breezes.

I lay still as its experience creaked,

thinking that the same house must be dreaming

100 years of the same occupation

kept with one family in the same position,

scattered personal effects and not scheming—

but what if it was not just always so?

If something left in someone’s absence is

merely their effect, then what is it that gives? —

its throat could clear and say, “I told you so.”

Pound, who sat on it at Beckett’s behest.

I think I shall flit up into the world,
cut out the sentiment for keeping close
to bones, an attachment that all spirits hold..

“Dead Man Hears the Call of God”

The great Sandburg.

Aha aha, I am Hitler,
and no-one knows where I reside.

“Aha Aha

Which is to say, Wooten.

if you take away the guest,
the wedding, the ring
and even our words

“Point”

 

May I drink at the fount where I am dead?

“Fountainhead”

 

                                            ...regrettable
how falling flakes become your fascination,
how time is lost to the forgettable

“Snow and a Private Affair”

 

And there was no candle inside of you
and no treat.

“Last Halloween”

The story of Palamedes.

And they’d have called me the wisest till I died,
if I had guessed the hatred in his fox eyes
before we came to Troy.

“Turning In Odysseus”

 

Reading of a body next morning, with coffee,
she turned the front page to funnies, then to want-ads.

“Behind Her Condominium”

And the one about...

A dumb poet and a guitar player
whose fingers are too short—
closing the store,
they are mopping the floor.

“Two Employees”

The beautiful “Untitled”, entirely.

Staring into space
in Alabama invites
her beauty to pose.

The poet as tool.

And how does it feel to have given away
the poetry we don’t need?  Sheepish?
Goatish?  Now we need a dead poet
who knows the difference...

“A Contemporary Audience Requests Poetry from a Dead Poet”

 

He couldn’t help but notice it,
the absent manpower,
an empty road at rush hour—
suddenly, no traffic.

“Blues at 5 O’clock”

Which expresses the poetic method entirely.

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