Shutta Crum
Joseph McNair
Laszlo Slomovits
Joanie Freeman
Chris Lord
Elisavietta Ritchie
Gerald Clark
Karyn M. Wolven
Duane Locke
Mervyn M. Solomon
Paul B. Roth
Sue Budin
Running Cub
Silvia Scheibli
Geoffrey Philp
Marilyn Churchill
Jerry Blanton
Steve Beaulieu
Don Hewlett

Fred Wolven


I remember quite vividly one particular spring day
cutting across the fields near school
just so I might spend some time in solitude
wandering through the woodlot knowing
that later I might bemoan my lack of time to also
meander alongside the creek bank leading out to the road.
This was before I came to realize that real people
write poems filled with wonderful images,
lines describing those tiny bluebells, so delicate,
such finely crafted natural sculptures,
and stanzas describing the marvelous efforts
of small ants carting their booty from one location
to another, not unlike farmhands passing barn
construction materials from hand to hand
in brigade-like fashion.  As I moved quietly
into the woodlot I was taken by what then
seemed a gigantic trunk of a tree felled by lightening
a few years earlier; it lay across my zigzagging trail,
which only I appeared to use in regular fashion,
the bark practically decayed, though some remains attached,
some particles sprinkled on my path.  Moving up and over,
turning round and round, I stare up for what
appears to be hours, looking for birds, then
listen to the raucous calls of jays, watch squirrels
scampering from limb to limb, tree to tree
seeking acorns and finding nesting spots for storage.
Sometimes I marvel at the mix of robins, sparrows,
the occasional hawk that's usually only on the outside
edge of the forest, and now and then I would hear
the echo of a red-headed woodpecker thumping
tirelessly away on his dying trunk.  Ah, yes,
being in this wooded haven, resting on a stump,
moving behind a birch stand, leaning against an oak,
finding yet another maple to notice up close,
another leaf newly fallen in an afternoon's breeze
waiting for my inspection, this world but beginning
to open before me, starting to tantalize me
as still it does, starting to haunt me, to draw me in
as Alice must have been when first she began to wonder,
following her tumble, at all she found suddenly around her.

                     neither a divine Dali nor Bagger Vance
(For both Chuck and Charlie)

He left a phone message last night asking me to call.
I tried this afternoon as early as I could,
and left him a message to check in tonight.
No sooner had I hung up than his son, Charlie,
appeared at my door.  "You don't want to hear this,"
Charlie said, "Dad died this morning of a heart attack."
Then sitting, hands over his eyes, tears came, not easy,
but real; this son not yet fully grieving for his father.

Chuck was an eccentric kind of character;
he was prone to wear baggy sweatpants with holes in them,
his shoes not in good repair, his face hair usually unkempt.
One might, at first impression, dismiss him as close
to being derelict as an under-the-bridge homeless vagrant.
Whenever he wanted to see me, he might call ahead
to say he was on his way, or he would just show up
outside my office door.  Chuck walked in a relaxed
looping kind of way, at once somehow reflecting
his casual approach in conversation, but also imparting
his impatience with the rest of the world,
cause, 'Damn it, I've got other, better things to do!'

He would sit for hours, if I had the time and patience,
and regale me with accounts of his past...the early days
when he was a law clerk.  From what I understand
he often had to appear in court on behalf of his employer,
a lawyer under the weather, or under the desk from drink.
But, when he came to see me, he might talk of his not
quite so clear career change--his becoming a professional
writer, or about his latest discovery on how to prod, help,
cajole his son into succeeding in his college studies;
this being something he wanted more for Charlie,
almost more than for himself, or so it seemed.

Yes, if not acquainted with him, one could quickly learn
just how easily Chuck could become a thorn in one's side.
He knew his legal rights to the letter of the law, and he
wouldn't hesitate to remind you if you stepped on them.

While, perhaps, not so seemingly set in his ways, he would,
nevertheless, proffer a philosophical point of view which
somehow was to become a theme of a story he was just
starting, or talk of an essay which he was burning
to transcribe from its uneasy condition in his mental basket
into a computer that young Charlie magically kept alive.

When a poetic competition loomed, Chuck produced, proudly,
his A Literary Turpling piece, explaining ever so seriously,
"I strained my brain / over rhyming with 'purple.' /
Failure bred invention, ergo: turple...." which might have made
old Ted Roethke or even Wallace Stevens perk up,
had not Gertrude Stein stumbled in upon it just before them.

Yes, Chuck could speculate with inspectors and communicate
with plumbers, or with migrants fresh in from the fields,
as easily as represent an attorney before a judge.
But, in fact, while he was often 'a pain in the butt,'
Chuck will continue to disturb, for he had such talent!


Fred Wolven
, Homestead, Florida

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