Friday, August 22, 2003
the frontier guards
say that i can't
back & forth
but i say Joker's Wild
but i say, Brave men
are going anyway
--Robert Head, from his book I HOLD THIS EARTH TO HEAVEN BE
there were many highlights at the PHILLY SOUND weekend, but one of them for me was Buck Downs who drove up from DC to read some Robert Head to us. without a doubt, it was the first time many of the people sitting in the Kelly Writers House that evening were hearing Robert Head who never leaves his home in West Virginia. Buck told a few of us after the reading that he had tried to get Robert Head to DC to read, but it just didn't happen. here's another from the same book:
i listen to men lay their lives down
Wordsworth & Coleridge estranjd forever.
Darlene says that Coleridge was crazy,
he had to be taken care of.
i remember the time driving home from work
i went around the curve and there was a squirrel
in the middl of the road trying to raise up
another squirrel that had been runover.
i ust to dream that i would die
& Darlene wouldn't be able to read
the handwriting on my last poem.
Wordsworth's sonnets weren't shaped
like the Italian with a statement
and the poet's response but like a tear.
(by the way, those are no typos, but word for word how he wrote his poem)
Buck Downs of course was the poet who turned me onto Robert Head, and i've been grateful to him ever since that awakening. when Buck was reading Robert Head's poems at the microphone it hit me that i had never heard a word of those poems spoken aloud. it made me want to go home and read them all aloud, they sounded so right in the air, coming at you like that. i don't care if it's corny to say that Robert Head's poems are good food. they are! the best kind of food. i agree with this man Desmond O'Brien who writes a page on Robert Head at the end of the book, saying, "Pure and simple, comprised of the great grains and sprinkled with the gain of this own well-earned salt of the sacred, these poems are communion." amen. did i just say amen? against the crushing force of all religion, poetry can hold.