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Old Man Driving a Roller Skate

Old Man Driving a Roller Skate

As a lawyer I was your advocate, but now as a Poet my job is to help you see all things differently. For example:

I have a silver gray antique BMW Z3 convertible. It looks like a ridiculous self important go-cart. It has five gears and a stick shift. It is loud. It is very low to the ground and only my head sticks out of the top.

When I drive this car I am publicly on display as a self-confessed idiot. Sort of a clown. Young boys with fresh learner’s permits pull up to me at stop lights, rev their engines, and laugh at me. I should be embarrassed.

But if I tell you, “I know I look like an old man driving a roller skate…” you laugh — but once you’ve imagined me in this car, you look at the car and the old man differently. It may be funny or it may be sad, but as a poet I have that ability to make you see things differently .

It is the ability to break the mold that we all live in and take for granted, again and again and again. The cement truck pours and we instantly take for granted that hardening cement and live with those forms forever. Poetry has the ability to break what is permanent and make it new by presenting it differently.

When I write a poem or a play I am asking you to hear my voice, look through my eyes, and see the “flash” vision that I create out of what we live in and take for granted together. I am driving the same roads, obeying the same traffic lights, and stalled in the same rush-hour traffic as you are. I’m using the same language and your words but I am aware of the sound of the words and the rhythm of our shared language in order to create that “flash” of the vision I want to create: “The old man driving a roller skate.”

That is the poet’s work. I must jackhammer out of existence something you have seen in your imagination, perhaps forever.

Let me give you two “flash” examples. Two quick comic examples from the best Poet of the English language: Shakespeare describes a drunkard who is upchucking on the street as, “Speaking with a full flowing stomach,“ or snidely describes a couple in an illicit affair as, ”being a beast with two backs.” In a “flash,” he can help you imagine what you expect, differently.

The job of the Poet is to bring you back to before the cement truck came into your life.

Poetry has the ability to break what is permanent and make it new by presenting it differently. Click To Tweet

A Sonnet

My Little Stone Buddha

Like a glass eye looks into the abyss,
My little stone Buddha, on the bookshelf top,
Sits as a “symbol” of “inner peace” and “bliss”;
But as “symbol” is he what he is not?

Is he not just my sculpted end of pain?
The mirror looks back into my wild eyes,
And my old eyes look back at me insane.
Tonight, the pain is deep. Can’t the glass eye cry?

Is everything just a symbolic meaning?
Sure, why not? Probably even for him:
Crosses, numbers, alphabets for reading.
Is he not made from me and my dark within?

Does not the self, not the Buddha, hold the bliss?
We make much of nothing, which is all of this.

A Sonnet

Father and Daughter

I swam, back then, with some father’s daughters,
Back stroking only slightly out of touch,
Out to the raft in the starry waters
And never thought of their fathers all that much.

Alice, don’t judge me till you’re fifty-five
But there were midnight visits to “Ice House Pond,”
In my misspent youth, when I was still alive,
Where couples would strip, and swim and then bond.

And Alice, this I know for sure is true:
At seventeen we both were born to be free
But ’cause I’m your father and I love you
Please consider this seasoned advice from me:

As you lust for life avoid the crudity
But don’t miss occasional sponti-nudity.

A Sonnet

The Order in Things

The last swallow flies low over the lake.
The thick fir trees become the first darkness
Gathering along the shore. Leaves cease to shake.
The dusk foreshadows the lake’s silence.

The deep quiet is its own diversion.
The world is peaceful. My thoughts my own.
I change places but not location
As the mind takes in the scene and is alone.

Standing cold on the dock tonight
I think about the fish roaming hungry
Below while the preying birds in their flight
Circle above. Held in tranquility

Is the bird above and the fish below.
There is order in these moments that come and go

A Winter Sonnet

City Snow

From a four o’clock sky the first snowflakes fall
To settle down on trafficked city streets.
Each snowflake falls separately, till all
Conspire to hide the city like a secret.

The last street lights go on, and the snow reflects
Upon the domiciliary landscape.
The more snow falls the less you really expect
The city to be what it’s supposed to be:

It becomes a beautiful blinking shape;
An image of slowing inactivity,
Slowing into snow drifts. It snows very late.
A pronouncement of peace subdues the city.

The drifting snow controls the city violence
With a voice made entirely of silence.