Tag Archives: poetry


Sometimes you only have to step 3 feet to the left and the whole insane machine goes roaring by.Lew Welch

Back to poetry. It was always my first love, something I discovered early in high school. It’s why I chose English as a second major. The only problem was skill. I sucked at poetry.

Eventually, I discovered the Beat poets, and they opened up a whole new world for me. The rigidity of meter and rhyme (what Lew Welch called “terrible academic dry-ball non-sense”) seemed broken and the language of the streets ruled. Lew Welch was my favorite, of course. He was probably the darkest of the Beats and died of suicide, much like Sylvia Plath, another favorite. It’s disturbing that I’m drawn to such people.

But I deeply connected to that Northern California group of writers, including the much older Robinson Jeffers. I always felt I had found “my people.” Then I fell away. Started writing personal essays, rants and whatnot. Too afraid of the hard work that it takes to be a poet and deeply disturbed by rejection, I stopped.

Funny thing, though, as I rearranged some things on my bookshelves, Lew’s work, “How I Write as a Poet & Other Essays” fell from shelf as if a ghost of my former self had tossed it upon the floor, forcing me to look. I looked, and those pathways reopened.

As I struggled through the first two lines, instead of becoming discouraged, I thought “this is how it’s supposed to be.” I’m not Sylvia Plath (few come close to her genius), and I’m not Lew Welch. But if Lew were alive, he’d likely tell me to just keep going, to just let it flow.

It’s kinda like my garden. I bought a new house late last year, and I had no idea what would emerge in the spring. I had to be patient and wait. Something would blossom and be a thing of beauty.

So this is spring. Patiently waiting for summer.


He suffered the most after placing his book on the bedtable and turning out the light.  That’s when the demons arose. Fears of death, job loss, infidelity, financial pressure. He felt anger over the misdeeds of others. Corporate malfeasance, Trumpers, religious zealots. He wondered what the world would be like if we could somehow rid ourselves of their presence.

He’d imagine being an angel or some being between the angels and man, given license to deal with such people. The hammer of the gods. But mostly he dreamed of a cabin deep in the woods away from it all. It was all so clear in his mind. A covered porch, a stove, walls lined with books and cherished art. Comfortable chairs and an ancient table upon which he’d eat. A sleeping nest above the room. A bed with a goose-down comforter and a Pendleton wool blanket, the cat’s favorite spot.  A reading light and a Jack London novel on a small table next to the bed.

In the mornings, he’d go for walks along an ancient game trial beside the creek. Deer would peak at him through the rhododendron. They knew him now and perhaps even found some comfort in one another’s presence. A soft mist blanketed the creek, soon to be cleared once the sun cleared the ridge.

After his walk, he’d write. His writing had some urgency since he was the featured poet at the next poetry reading in town. The girl would be there, so the work had to be his best. He hoped the words would fly off the page and pierce her tender heart. He’d never ached for a woman like he did for her. Her soft brown hair and loving eyes. Those cotton dresses she wore and the well-worn boots. Eyeliner. He always had a thing for eyeliner. He wondered about the locket around her neck. Who’s image did it contain?

Parked in front of the cabin was his truck, a white and red 1978 F-150. Later in the day, he’d drive into town. He’d lunch at the café then peruse the books at the local bookstore. Small talk with the regulars. Then he’d grab some supplies and head back to his cabin, alone.