© 2008 -- 2011 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Matter of Mind

[Grandpa's note: Lilly from Lilly's Life left me a comment saying she wouldn't mind reading more about my writing career. I would love to oblige, but somehow on a very basic level, I don't know how to do the telling. Writing is just something I've always done. This poem, which is the title poem from my book that was published a few years ago wasn't originally about my writing (the one that follows it was). But it's a way to begin the telling.]

I had no way to tell you because words
made it a matter of mind. But that morning
two hawks in circle dance cried above me
as I longed for their wings, wished to grow wings.

Pictures, perhaps, but I was no painter
who could catch the crow flapping above mowed fields.
Nor was I a musician to make music
like the music of gulls rocked by the wind.

The mind would not do. That night I heard owls
& felt bones of mice under foot while I let
my cigarette burn itself out, wishing
only to extinguish the mind that raced
through thought after thought like a mockingbird
caught in a web of meaningless melody.

Originally published in A Matter of Mind, Foothills Publishing, 2004.
© copyright 2004, 2008 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog.
All rights reserved.

[The following poem, which I wrote sometime before 1978 (when it was included in my master's thesis--I went back to finish my bachelor's when I was 29) was meant to be about my relationship with writing, particularly writing poetry.]


Her child-combed hair that smells of hay,
Thighs dusted with plowed earth,
She sheds her patterned dress and climbs
The attic stairs to me.

And we collide among the cries
Of angry springs, sterile
Thrusts, and pain of ruined farmers'
Sons. A shotgun across

His chest, her father sleeps. Look. Smell
The sweat of honest work.
This girl works as hard as any
Man. Now she's mine, until

Dawn, when he and I see her work
The fields, saddle shoes filled
with air next to school books along
The road that melts in light.

Originally published in Poet Lore, Winter, 1985.
© copyright 2008 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog.
All rights reserved.

Just a little post script -- For the past six years, my office has been in the attic.


  1. Well Grandpa you sure are clever is all I can say. Your first poem said it all(I had a few tears well up do some reason). It's a gift you have been blessed with and I am so glad you are using it - even though you are stuck in the attic!!

  2. Poets don't need to be told to live in the moment. What a gift.

  3. Thanks, Lilly. Actually. My current attic is pretty plush. But I like the image of being stuck there.

  4. Thanks, Ann. Somehow, my father -- who totally did understand it -- never claimed to understand that concept of living in the moment. Thanks for recognizing it.

  5. Grandpa: Getting out of my mind was an important step in the writing life. Was it Gide who spoke of the "systematic deragement of the sense" as the path to creation? I muse, then type, as I freely feel and sprall and spreel into wonderfully serindipic phrases - then the sensible brain comes in, spell-checks it, and pushes:"Publish."
    "It's just what we've always done." . .writers!
    Aloha fellow word/meaning-groupie!

  6. Cloudia, I'm embarrassed to say I don't know Gide's work. But I will make it a point to remedy that. And I am beginning to think you and I are of one mind, which we are both very busy getting out of. ;0)

  7. I feel I don't have a natural right to the language. But aloha, Cloudia.

  8. This is very sweet.

    Somehow deep inside of me, I can understand the poem. You have such a gift of words. I wish I'm like you. I find it hard to create the right feeling with what I write. I think I lack being cryptic, mystic in unfolding message that I really want to say. I'm too straight and direct.

  9. Thank you, Younghee-jin. There is nothing wrong with being straight and direct. I often wish some of the writers I edit knew how to be more straight and direct. And I too find it hard to create the right feeling. Writing is hard for those who want to do it.

  10. Grandpa, curiosity is natural where appreciation has already arisen. Lilly is right...I respect your humility and your desire to focus on your craft though. I'm torn. I want both from you :))as

  11. Thanks, Braja. Those are nice words. And I will tell more.

  12. Hello the Grandpa,
    I always like the rhyming and the the melodious sound of poetry. Unfortunately, most of them I find too cryptic that I'm lost and am unable to decipher their meanings or messages. I'm that way with a lot of music lyrics as well.

    Was that a romantic romp taking place up in the attic in the second poem? See? I told you I'm terrile at cryptics. LOL.


  13. Hi, Tashabud. It doesn't sound like you have a problem to me. And of course, romantic is a relative term. :0)

  14. I take it that I'm right. Anyway,
    I've just read Lilly's latest post about rating, so I didn't want to taint your, perhaps, G-rating with a bolder descriptive word. LOL.


  15. I should get myself a T shirt, Tashabud that says I went to the Blogosphere but all I got was this lousy &*@$#!( G-rating. I guess I have to try harder. :0(

  16. The Grandpa,
    Sorry about that. You got me laughing hysterically; I have tears in my eyes!

    My blogs, definitely, are X-Rated if I go strictly with what I've read over at Lilly's. My novel blog, especially, for it contains all the raunchy stuff. LOL.


  17. Hi, Cloudia. It was actually Rimbaud:

    "A Poet makes himself a visionary through a long, boundless, and systematized disorganization of all the senses."

  18. You do indeed have a gift! I love to write, too. It's really the only dream that lasted throughout my whole life. Thank you so much for coming to my blog and I look forward to visiting yours again soon. Oh -- and I like the attic image, too!

  19. Hi, Sylvia. Enjoyed my visit at your blog, and I'll be back too. It's amazing how that dream to write can last, isn't it? I only lost it once. Thank God, it was only temporary.

  20. You are the word master, Grandpa. I'd like to hear more about your attic, and how it feels to work there every day!

  21. The writer's life is so solitary yet dependent on others being able to connect to the words you put down on paper... I love that you are sharing some of your stories behind the words to add yet another dimension to your poetry. Thank you!

  22. It's scarry, Gran. But I will talk more abot it.

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  24. Amy, thank you. That's why I'm on the blogosphere. (I don't even know what that means.) But the fact I know you read what I put up and responded makes me feel better than I did before I posted. Thank you,

  25. An interesting blog. I am new to it, but shall certainly return. I also found the two poems in this post of great interest, but need to read them again when I have a little more leisure.

  26. Thank you, Dave. You're welcome any time.

  27. You write beautifully. As an aspiring writer, I truly am amazed.