Is it wrong to wonder if Yeats or James
Would ever have soared to single names
Without some thrust from the rocket packs
Affixed by fortune to their backs?
Their fathers, I mean. Both breeds apart:
One an acolyte of art,
One of language lashed to thought—
Their sons among the works they wrought.
Maybe if I’d been dealt a dad
A tenth the size of those they had…
As if I wouldn’t have settled for
A dwarf with an interior,
My father having as good as none
For all he let me into one….
That’s not to say he’d never hug
A tyke he termed a doodlebug.
To think those scraps of such a love
Were somehow sustenance enough.

Case Study

For Alice


Of an evening maybe thirty years ago,
A woman I was getting to know
Had the misfortune of asking me
How I’d found my way to poetry.
I answered till the east was coming to.
She didn’t seem all that put out,
But that’s as far as my story got
(I.e., not halfway through).

A Poet Sings the Blues

Me & the Originator
By Al Basile
(Sweetspot, 2018, $13.76)

Poet and musician Al Basile has come up with an interesting concept for his latest CD, Me & the Originator: a story told through an alternation of thirteen poems and twelve songs. Yet this concept may not be the most interesting thing about the project.

Where We Are


A splash with Locke
and reason ripples out, washing
a century hence on the far shore that’s art.
Some dwellers there re-see
the received; find themselves
shucking the received.


A century on:
shucking done,
results in.
Abstraction a smash;
verse’s “first heave” immensely more
than holding its own.
Dissonance? Don’t ask.
All understandable. Hadn’t
eyes been abstracting for ages? Hadn’t there been
unmetered speech for eons? Whereas
Schoenberg (like a certain other seer)
was conceiving a New Man.
Which leaves us



I’ve never been in a fight;
Not the real kind
Where you want to hurt a guy
You might get damaged by:
A fact that one could find
A little peculiar, right?

If I could pull some strings
And have myself remade
As someone with the guts…
Of all the sorry thoughts
A thinker’s ever had.
Among the primal things

A god could not undo
Is a wont to run away.
Were a son of mine to come
Under a bully’s thumb,
I’d know the words to say,
But lack the standing to.