Wednesday, January 23, 22:56 CDT

Went to this poetry reading today, by a guy named Sydney Lea.

The chances I'd have gone, if an instructor hadn't required it, are kind of slim. But I'm glad I did.

I was going to quote the whole poem that's at the bottom of this review of one of his books, because it's really good. Then I thought, yeesh, that's kind of long to just drop onto your front page, isn't it?

Probably it is, but what the heck. I'm giving the web an extra bit of redundancy, which can't be all bad.

Poor Fool Blues

 After he hanged himself at twenty-two,
 the town got together and planted a tree in his name.
 Breck's tree. Rock maple. It would be stalwart and good
 in time, this sapling. We meant it to have a meaning-
 though what sort, exactly, none of us could say.

 Today, April Fool's, I visited on my way home,
 the first small wisps of leaf just bursting the buds,
 the root-knees straining for purchase in loosening earth.
 Rain came down on me, stiff, and kept the kids
 inside the school where Breck himself was a boy.

 Nothing let itself be understood,
 articulated, though everything seemed so common, so plain.
 Root. Leaf. Rock. Mud. Wind.
 These weren't booze. These weren't crack or horse,
 nor the cheap leather belt he fashioned into a noose.

 There's likewise now an art award in his name.
 On driving away, the very first thing I saw
 was a bumper sticker: LIFE'S A BITCH AND THEN
 YOU DIE. There's more to it than that, I sighed,
 countercliche my pathetic recourse.

 I wheeled along and shivered, wet to the core.
 But off to my east, above the Connecticut
 River by Big Pat's farm, where he keeps those burros-
 small muscular demons, sad-eyed-a squadron
 of geese, the first of spring, headed north.

 Do I turn off Buddy Guy, I idly thought,
 on my radio shouting, "The first time I met the blues
 they followed me tree to tree," to hear a chorus
 of honks so familiar and strange they might be arranged
 in 4/4 time as well, twelve bars, three chords?

 I told myself, Either way you can't lose.
 The music's changes stilled thrilled, like geese in the sky,
 who drag a heartbreak past and a hope to our doors.
 We fools keep on. We look for meaning and form.
 If patterns and breaches of pattern wear out our words,

 we still mean to do some good before we die.

-- Sydney Lea, Pursuit of a Wound

For good measure, here's the only other full length poem of Lea's I found in the first few pages of Google's results. I found his introduction to these poems interesting as well.

And here, upon further investigation, is the longish, depressing as hell story-poem he read today.