John Macker: “Abundance “

 

 

Abundance     
                 – For Stewart Warren

An 80 year old woman in New Mexico
does tai chi in the dog park
in an abundance of presence
shares the rhythms of her age
gathers in and then releases the
shiftless summer air.     
In Iceland activists hold a funeral for a famous
glacier, on the permanent plaque they 
placed, in English and Icelandic, 
is written to the children:

Only you know if we did it.

In Auden’s memorial poem to Yeats
he wrote: Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
Out the window a police car siren’s
pulsating shriek cleaves the morning
into two organic halves, one an act of faith
the other, not so much. We were instructed
by the nuns to say a prayer or cross
ourselves every time we heard one 
until the danger became
innocent whispered echo.

As if nobody had been hurt.

Ireland will plant 400 million trees in the
next 20 years to combat climate change.
So many more will recognize El Degűello
when they hear it than those who’ve
memorized “The Second Coming”. 
A poet friend in New Mexico 
in his last days of hospice
always traveled his own rivers
now they change course, fill him
with their own abundance, tell him
we have all the time in the world.

The purple morning uplifted cosmos petals
a day after rain and the land which has withstood
the emancipation of all these latest hells

never stops singing.

 

About the Author: John Macker’s latest books are Atlas of Wolves (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019) and The Blues Drink Your Dreams Away: Selected Poems 1983-2018 (Stubborn Mule Press, 2018 and a finalist for a New Mexico/Arizona Book Award.) Macker has lived in Northern New Mexico for 24 years.

 

More By John Macker:

Last Riff For Chet

 

Image Credit: William Henry Jackson “Embudo, New Mexico” (1882) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

John Macker: “Last Riff for Chet”

 

Last Riff for Chet

Chet Baker used to bend over
his horn like the saddest, most suffering flower
speak into it like an echo does in dream
coaxing faded blossoms from the air
gathering them in breath to the place
on earth he felt closest to
trembling with shadows
then mutate their fragrances into a
civilization of invisible words as if
every spring, trigger-fingered
April’s bent their music to the ground
coaxing forth rose after rose
their powder-burned faces
bold, fragrant, strained, maverick
delivering echo after echo.

Chet sounded the blues,
riffed circles around the discordant rainbows
of romance in the dark until 
they drifted so close
you could pluck them like strings:
standing there streetlamp insouciant 
smoking the heroin gun of Paris
blowing interstellar lullabies
working his own myth into the 
hard ground
while I’m bent over this ancient
jukebox in the Lariat Bar
hit parade reduced to a row of square
buttons I punch into entropy.

At last, I find Chet as he empties a 
chamber of pure blue language
onto a white tablecloth
opens the window to each new bloom
with his lips
as he always has,
saying something pure to the earth
knowing no surrender is a cliché.
He had chiseled features.  
There’s a plaque for him in Amsterdam
outside the Hotel
Prins Hendrik at the last spot
he soared through life
on his way  
to the ground.

 

About the Author: John Macker’s latest books are Atlas of Wolves (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019) and The Blues Drink Your Dreams Away: Selected Poems 1983-2018 (Stubborn Mule Press, 2018 and a finalist for a New Mexico/Arizona Book Award.) Macker has lived in Northern New Mexico for 24 years.

“Acetylene Sunsets: Edward Dorn’s Recollections of Gran Apacheria” By John Macker

 

Acetylene Sunsets:

Edward Dorn’s Recollections of Gran Apacheria

By John Macker

“In the internal resistance of his thought, Dorn has been able to understand the American Indian more deeply perhaps than any recent writer, scholarly or poetic, who is not himself an Indian. In these works, as in the larger body of his writing, Dorn makes marginal figures, as they resist external authority with an indivisible spirit of self, land and history, morally central to the inner life of American Culture.”

                                                                                                         – Paul Dresman

 

I dug Ed Dorn because he wd rather
Make you his enemy
Than lie
           – Amiri Baraka

 

I first encountered Ed Dorn at a reading I did with him and Linda Hogan in Denver in the spring of 1983, at Muddy’s Coffee House in the Slightly Off Center Theatre on 15th street. I was a young, green poet and it was my first major reading with a theatre full of people, most of whom I didn’t know. I remember being anxious, pacing as I read, almost stalking the words as they came from my mouth. In contrast, Dorn was seated for his reading and read from Hello, La Jolla, or, possibly, Yellow Lola, late 1970’s works that, in contrast to the wild-crafted, rhythmic surrealism of his Gunslinger series of books, seemed arrestingly aphoristic. I knew of Ed Dorn — he was teaching at the University of Colorado — but it would be some years before I began reading all of his works and concluding, along with many others, that his was a distinctive, uncompromising and wildly original American voice and, as his friend the late Amiri Baraka described him, “Thin straight blonde Cowboy/movie looking white guy with the mind/of a saw.”

    Fact is, I didn’t appreciate him as much in those days. And that was as much due to my immaturity and insecurity as it was my inability to recognize great writing character when I was in the same room with it. He was particularly generous to my wife and I and after the reading we spent some time together talking about Denver — he was interested in it as a collection of characters in a landscape, its roots as well as its contemporaneous presence as a major metropolis. He was intrigued by its straight, cosmopolitan, newly corporate cow town development vibe verses the academic/counter-culture exoticism of post-hippie mountain town Boulder. At that time, Naropa Institute was sucking much of the literary air out of the room. Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman had conceived the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics there, and Trungpa Rimpoche’s hijinks were becoming legend. (I attended the summer poetics program in 1978, so, guilty.)

    After a brief summer teaching stint there in 1977, Dorn evidently wanted no further part of it. In fact, he eschewed the authoritarian implication of all labels and categories: definitions, belonging to a particular school or group of writers. He disdained being classified as Beat, outlaw, academic or avant-garde or belonging to any particular “movement”; as for his primary poetic education with Charles Olson and Robert Creeley at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, as Lisa Jarnot put it, “the formidable constellation of Black Mountain poetics”, it was a transformative experience that would transcend all manner of category or label. In fact, his appearance in Donald Allen’s seminal 1960 anthology of non-academic, avant-garde writing, The New American Poetry, where his work appeared with the greatest poetic minds of his generation, would be as close as he came to belonging to any group. Continue reading