It’s REAL: Where Have All the Poets Gone?

  • Post published:June 2, 2024
Gordon Black

Some folks like poetry and some don’t know about poetry. Some of the former live their entire lives inside stanzas and word-portraits, covert rhymes and overt ones, wordage and wisdom flowing inexorably out the tips of their fingers—their lives do not exist without the creating and appreciating of poetic work. Other folks don’t give a rat’s ass, as they say, about poetry in the least, which is puzzling to poets. And some of the rarest of the poetry breed, who maybe have a little trust fund, are just plain poets full-time—full-time commitment and concentration, which is different from the ones who have day jobs, like being radio hosts or growing weed or being letterpress printers who print their own broadsides or doing whatever keeps body and soul together at the typewriter. These get up earlier.
Gordon Black and Bill Bradd are two of my poet friends who just arrived at the Poetry Pearly Gates—at the extra-special Side Entrance for Bards who belonged to the latter group. They wrote poetry and taught poetry and appreciated poetry and lived inside poetry from elevated sensitivities for the form, the rhythm, the blues, the sorrows and guffaws, and every in-between a poet can come up with, and they had day jobs. They did much to bring poetry to the Mendocino Coast, a known poetry destination; their passion for it was contagious and a lot of people caught it, or came here because of it. These two guys were adored iconoclasts: voices, hearts, brains like nobody ever before. Each had a uniqueness of consciousness, a particular delivery—Gordon with his soulful, melodious baritone, Bill with his cyclone of brilliance and breath—and they were friends, deep, funny, heartful poetic brothers.

Bill Bradd

 

—Here is an excerpt from Bill Bradd’s website, “Elevation 6, Route 1: My Home,” of which he wrote as intro:

On my web site I have created a Totem Pole, pictures and stories, bits of bent grass and several found deer skulls with antlers still attached, excavated from the far hills, mountain lion work, I assumed. ˜
Nobody liked it when I put my art to the story, when I invented quaint reminiscences and honorable intentions when if fact there were moments of quite the opposite. At family hoedowns we generally did tunes that you could recognize only when strangers were present. Strangers would tap their toes and generally feel a great bon-homme with us, a bit of the old family history here, a fiddle and a guitar and three-part harmony.
When there were no strangers present, however, when we were in the kitchen and we took out the fiddle and bow, we all took to howling our own sweet tune, in different keys and different lengths. Aunt Mad almost perished when she fell behind the ice box reaching for the fly-swatter and wasn’t noticed ’til it was her turn to testify and the dog gave us the news.
There was never going to be any contentedness, never expected it. Perhaps the only wish was for a few of the old family snapshots, the great uncles and the grandparents in various forms of bathing gear, gathered at the swimming hole, a rocky area under the railroad trestle, where, at a much later time, my Uncle Floyd died, leaping off a boxcar at night. Home again, at last, after many years traveling, even to the Orient, Floyd rode the rails home only to forget that the railroad trestle had no railings, was just a black hole in the night, complacent with other black holes; all constructs of rural night time; and he leapt off the train as it passed over the trestle; and Floyd came home to be buried, along with the rest of our family at Union Cemetery, in Colbourne. All this stuff, the pictures, the stories, is the patina of life as resurrected from the advantage near the finish line. [There’s more at billbradd.com.)

—And here is a poem Gordon wrote, dear soul:

NEW YEAR / quiet in the canyon enough / to hear the whistle in the head / afar a kerthunk and there distant surf / that said its value is what’s not said / escape to football Rose Bowl interpret / both defenses are getting the best of it early / as if life itself hang on disambiguation / or ride the perimeters of sense in nature at repose / light withdrawing from some but not all last things

Bye, you guys. The world feels paltry without you. Really.