October through a giant copper beech

The day approacheth, just a few weeks from now - I must be leaving ye old Providence, heading west to Minneapolis.  Walking around this windy overcast morning - gray skies, gray hair, gray world - thinking of the bark on a great gray beech tree, & the gray stone of churchyards, & the grey-eyed wisdom of Athena-Sophia (you might say)... all these sempiternal things (you might say)... & of Jasper Johns' gray series, & of the strange old gray painter crouched in a gray streetcorner, in Antonioni's Ravenna film, Deserto Rosso (was it Dante?)... & so all these grays blended on this gray day, as I remembered Edwin Honig, who had so much to do with my poetry life here in Providence... & Edwin's terrific short poem "November through a Giant Copper Beech" (you can find it in at least one of the editions of the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry).

Edwin's poem is about passing things, & things that are steadfast through time...

I got into a college (Brown) on the strength of some high school poems.  & stuck around here, writing on & off, for 45 years.  I just learned a few days ago that a poem of mine has been accepted for publication in that venerable American institution, Poetry magazine.  So maybe something at least has come of it all - so many wayward years in Roger's city-state, his "refuge for troubled conscience"!

                                   in memory E.H.

This windy gray October day,
fat robin camouflaged
(hoodie?) in dogwood’s
rusty green... & then the great gray

beech I passed this morning (Slater
& Lincoln).  Elephantine,
primordial, in motion
still (old pre-Socratic critter)...

Edwin’s tree, his 100-branching
crown – the graying King
of Gray, still whistling
to Even Dove, down never-dying

Dolphin Way (led by leaping sparks
into Ravenna).  O patient
rude dream-sponge – intent
to wrestle safety shroud across stark

span! – your International Pumpkin Man
lit from within (warm
orange flame)... No harm
shall come to thee, my child – listen!

In a corner of a lumber yard
one sharp-eyed old saint
(framed by gray paint
cans, wagon) waves palm upward

toward the dark sheep-door, just
over his shoulder – where
one candle shivers fire.
An endless jet, he whispers.  Trust.


Beech tree on Slater Ave., Providence

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