In memoriam, by Claudia Lapp:
Between the October Eclipses (Full Moon 10/8 & New Moon 10/23) and Samhain/Day of the Dead/Halloween, two American poets/translators, passionate and prolific, entered the bardo of death. Carolyn Kizer (12/5/1925) died on 10/9, in a rest home in Sonoma, CA. Galway Kinnell (2/1/1925) took his leave on 10/28, in Sheffield, VT (leukemia). They came from the same generation “pod”, as did Maxine Kumin (6/6/25), who passed away in rural NH in February. Kizer was a close friend of Lucille Clifton and I attended a workshop given by them in Columbia, MD. Vive La Poesie!
Here is a small mix of their voices, Cyber Ofrendas (altars) in memory of their unique cadences and the flowering of their heart/minds..
GALWAY KINNELL – PRAYER
Whatever happens. Whatever
what is is what
I want. Only that. But that.
“To me, poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying with as little concealment as possible,
what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment.”
From The Milk Bottle (Mortal Acts Mortal Words, 1980) : “….seeing that any time/would be OK/to go, to vanish back into all things – as when/lovers wake up at night and see/they both are crying and think, Yes,/but it doesn’t matter, already/we will have lived forever.” ….
On the tidal mud just before sunset,
dozens of starfishes
were creeping. It was
as though the mud were a sky
and enormous, imperfect stars
moved across it as slowly
as the actual stars cross heaven.
All at once they stopped,
and as if they had simply
increased their receptivity
to gravity they sank down
into the mud; they faded down
into it and lay still; and by the time
pink of sunset broke across them
they were as invisible
as the true stars at daybreak.
CEL sez: The famed Oregon Coast starfish are suffering from a terrible wasting disease – they dissolve into jelly. Local biologists don’t know why but are keeping tabs on them. They recently found a large number of baby starfish, a hopeful but uncertain trend.
Crying only a little bit
is no use. You must cry
until your pillow is soaked!
Then you can get up and laugh.
Then you can jump in the shower
Then you can throw open your window
and “Ha ha! Ha ha!”
And if people say, “Hey,
what’s going on up there?”
“Ha ha!” sing back, “Happiness
was hiding in the last tear!
I wept it. Ha ha!”
CAROLYN KIZER, from Mermaids in the Basement, Copper Canyon Press, 1984
Sixteenth Day (A Month in Summer): Nearly every night I dream of my mother, dead these four years. I remember reading an account by a well-known doctor, himself the victim of the agonizing disease which had been his specialty, saying the in extreme pain we all call for our mothers.
The dream of the dead,
Kind, brilliant and comforting.
The lost return to us
When we are lost.
Food of Love (1st stanza)
I’m going to murder you with love;
I’m going to suffocate you with embraces;
I’m going to hug you, bone by bone,
Till you’re dead all over.
Then I will dine on your delectable marrow.
Love and Blessings from Cel & Gary in Oregon,
where mushrooms bloom chalky white under our laurel tree ( wet season is here).