Asher Blake’s Talking With Michael Black

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Talking With Michael Black

I don’t just love you in your kimono
rage, your outfit for oriental jazz.
Constancy, sweet constancy, your head
within our fridge. My child, love
is yours not for blowing piles
of Miles in a cocaine fusion,
cocksure in your shoulder pads,
the wolf-geist in my guest house.
Because you are my son.
That is why I love you.

Not for the way you read Ginsberg’s Howl
with the actual pride of your daemon,
attempting some crystal adage
but lacking even the Hebrew School
knowledge of that Devil Moloch
who took you hostage. We still
ransom ourselves mad, and build
bridges over Gehenna ravines
inside your everyday mind,
for you, my little one, are still in sight.

You emerged in an aureole of perplexity,
of misery. We never travail
in your worm-like misery, but I stoop
in the dark in my attorney suit,
my silken fencing mask, and burn
real money in sprawling Texan
wastebaskets because
I truly love you, far more
than you love Ginsberg.

When you heard you had a son, the lightning
flew, ran with golden feet on each stone
vertebrae, that was how you said you knew.
Though you crush on Coltrane’s chakras,
that thrum and moan with vibraphone ease,
remember the greater liberation:
being born in flesh and bone
as generations more of living beings.

Dear Michael, music of the trees,
monster of epiphany, I see through
the forest, I know the field.
I’ve cleared the path in pain, in part
by cleaning up your child mess and vomit.
The tragic song to me is always klezmer,
like some carousel of ecstatic clarinet;
like my old arena: I know the field.
Your path comes through Michael,
come and I will lead you.

The real thing can cost
in fire; surely some flames
may touch the original Nordic
boat, even you, the gambler’s
wisely crooked dice.
Not for any tenderness
of youth, but in your grizzled
cheek as you resist the mental
ward – we love you.

A baby, already you brought
the doctors of the void to sound
their “ah’s.” They make the
illness the oracle. By now
you realize that real inference
appears by sessions looking
in the mirror, and if you cast reflections
twice, thrice weekly, send the bill
to me; grow a full, luxurious
beard. Just comply with us
on this: please take your meds;
I beg you to take your meds.

I have swallowed your horror
since you emerged into this world
from the areola, burst out from
a bison side. Your pills now the whole
horror swallow. Eat them
and take what we give in silence.

Take a chair beside me; my chair
into your room when I am gone.
Grow almost like me; grow almost
as ancient beside me, full of the throat
that throws wishbones of law,
and sets down pillowed cushions
for the rabbis in the synagogue.

Asher Blake’s Praise Poem #17

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Praise Poem #17

Walking beneath the cherry trees
he fell in love with the Phillipines.
Young sapling roots hug the tidal basin.

When the wind is stronger than the flower,
weak aching heads relinquish their beams.
Ripe they fall in a frenzy
of the five senses every spring.
Our heads look
to the spin,

the eye and skin brush the whirling dress,
but our mouths hold back
guessing.
Clouds are blooming like slow dancing
thinkers on the rain.

He was well seeded with his trees,
sprouted in the spring.
But he died in love beneath
the Filippino cherry trees,
passed Lethe in the floating arms
of uncut flowers
like children’s teeth.

His last hope was the breath
of a Filipino medic
that is still within his lungs.
Hopes hanging in his pulse,
life, then living death,
life, then dying all the death.

He holds his heart eyes open,
they stay eternally in windy breath,
when unshaken blossoms remain beholding Him,
in that very wind that is the vigor of the root.
In salted islands, and the eagle nest D.C.,
we take His body, preach His wounds,
for the Lord more beautiful
than cherry blossoms
rises first,
and keeps me clinging,
heart to beating heart.

Cherry Tree

Asher Blake’s Praise Poem #18

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Praise Poem #18

Dread goes high, higher, Avraham,
how I’m dead and fear’s fatal gleam
meets my eye. And the final lick
of light in me has shut,
gone in raised harvest of hair and knowledge
off my body. Now I know the certain
darkness feels for something there,
smothered by the weight
of the night-fell-angel
forced the other way, to swear
by that boy, Struggle, getting blessings
for himself, the prince, so that
the horn of Israel did get it,
and his shaggy twin by bullish power
was thrown, his assumptions,
my son to starlight multiplies,
and saves Israel, the caravan light of Israel.

Oh august Lord God above,
please accept
my hand is coming,
your water, we wash always in your
water, you are why I always wash
the feet first and hands, then dishes,
the couches and the counters after.

Oh great Father, please accept my child,
the holy fruit of steady prayer.
Even father Avraham said,
Lord, let Ishmael live before you!

Dear Lord, Holy One Hashem,
please accept my son for love,
favor him and bind him
in your sign, cut off his foreskin
in the power of your knowledge.
By dread of you, we gain relief
and live, and read a sentence of
graven letters and are written –
in the Book of Life.

There is a surgeon’s skull cap,
pulling back the tenderness,
it lends him greater manhood,
so there is a foreskin for the circumcised,
something nails, some immodesty, a brazen
camouflage bandanna against the head,
the band of men appearing to take God,
Lord of stars, and nail Him,
kill your breath, then curse.

But there is also the call irrevocable,
and the fair song, singing,
praising breath.
We find through a little
side angled door, a seal
in Him forever. Go
past the fear of rejection;
go into the luscious manhood
of the vine and branches heavy pruned
by the Father who counted His Son’s blood
sacred, who created this means of worship
strong enough to bear the weight of rescue.

Edward Thomas’ Old Man

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Let’s have another poem by Edward Thomas.  This lyric amounts almost to song not through sound but through the movements of the mind, recurring, wistful, and meditative.  He dwells upon a mystery: how can a man long for a bitter knowledge, loving what he does not like?  How sweet these modern English garden poems of his.  Click on this link to read the Old Man.

Book Review: A Classic On Poetic Form

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Philip Hobsbaum, an English poet and critic, in his book “Metre, Rhythm, and Verse Form”, has in expertise not succumbed to pedantry, and kept my attention almost undivided (a feat) for the duration.  He does this in part by staying under two hundred pages and diving into great poetry at every turn, teaching how to scan meter, and what psychological impact a tiny alteration in form can have.  He really opened my eyes on elements of form that don’t come easily to me, discussing the nuances of various feet, like the iamb, as well as the length of line, blank verse, the length of vowels and syllables (thus the speed of lines), maintaining a fixed number of syllables per line (syllabics), and the loosening of meter through sprung rhythm.  He also defines three kinds of free verse: free blank verse, cadenced verse, and pure free verse.  Hobsbaum explores the use of rhyme and partial rhyme.  And he is always going back to the subject of how all these matters, and a few more affect the final rhythm, which he points out is a different animal from a fixed form like iambic pentameter.  At the end of the book, Hobsbaum runs through a number of popular verse forms.

One of the most interesting things about this book is how we are given access to the historical origin and development of certain types of stanzas (such as the ballad and hymn and elegiac stanza) and how their potential was discovered over time in significant usages.

To poets who want to gain more conscious understanding of the nuances of meter and form I recommend this volume wholeheartedly.