Other Poems by:

L. Ward Abel


R. B. Kitaj and Representation

He recounted actual 
that cast shadows.  Ideas are not
figures, do not press
the mud beside streams,
donít leave their memories
in layers for  
He knew that galleries
evolve, are subject to.
Are products.  Are smoke.  Fashion.
But figures remain
to hunt
and gather, live, die,
and mend.

Hope and Art Tatum

The shortest day
is the longest night,
but that night
its cosmology
when the speed of light 
is approached;
time slows down and hits a wall
at winter solstice.
In the dimness  
is Art Tatum, almost blind,
for all 
that Einstein was right,
that our world stops
at perfection,
that minutes reverse 
when racing the beam:
Tatum was that fast.
Tatum is that fast.
That perfect.
as winter begins
there is jazz:
possibility, freedom,
victory in darkness;

Her Portrait

The sun rose through a bridal veil.  Her face was like
Joniís song.  Blue.
And smoke:  fires from counties to the far south
low flung.  Charred for Spring.
Born from contrast, ending and beginning.  Like whatever
it is Iím doing.  Green.

The Understudy

Most treat the arbor skysong
of birds  
like soundtrack, like background,
like patches of light upon thinking.
But on mornings below the Gap, in
this meeting of trees, Iím taken 
by those effortless tunes.  
My own music
comes only through escape
and toil,
I grab at the clarity for
as long as it lasts.  But those birds
rightly sing as if they
have been bards all along,
so satisfied with their work
that writing it down
would defeat the purpose,
and the songs of others 
like me, amateurs, 
are a noisy sacrilege.  


This place is so quiet that I can hear the cobwebs
breathe.  Gray sky isnít always a representation
of things in me, inside this window that is nothing
more than a shield.  But that dullness seems to fit now,
fits along with the settled dust of my own global economy.
And there may be rain on the way, something to cleanse
this previous night that I am looping through day after
waking day.  From my second story there is a puddle
down below, left over from all storms forgotten:
it shimmers like faith.


on this college town
hilly terraced
pavement wet
threshold to threshold
all up for rent
the place
born the genre
famous and gone
if it weren't
for higher learning
a milltown would be
but rivulets
find big brother wide
later down on the coast
nothing more than memory
leaving for home.


On Christmas Eve
he'd come home
after eighteen hours' work
covered head to foot
in machine oil.
Old Broadway,
yielded few jobs but these jobs
back in the Thirties:
the railroad
was among the last
to give up men to soup lines.
He left
such things as presents
and cheer
because grind was all,
all was toil,
that was him.
The son, my father,
must have waited
then distracted
for a returning,
for some unity
humor and pursuit,
but waited too long
with Grandmother,
another stranger
to holiday.

A Shed on Saturn's Moon

Did you hear
from her last night?
She in the far dark
outer rings,
she manifest
a core sample
with no call-waiting,
the line is busy
pulsing perpetual
over and over.

I heard her
in iron ore
that had been discarded
forced upward
from the addiction,
stark contrast
to sun-patterns
on her limpness

Sins of mothers
borne in delay
someday manifest
her own girl-child
soon translates those secrets
and puzzles
beside the shore
of dusty waters,
the tide will be out.
Her black tarry housed.

Coltrane 1985

The tenor way
had fingers
and I didn't even know it.
No one had ever
exposed me
to that smooth blue stream,
that jazz.

When Skip played me
some Impulse labels
while living in Macon,
every measure, every space
was previously occupied,
every cubic foot and groove
crowded with ghosts.

The tenor way revealed
never random but preordained---
a presbyterian artform
without boundaries,
without right angles,
like people---no right angles.

from open fifth-or-eighth-floor-windows,
when heat wasn't a factor,
a New Jerusalem shone Kansas-City-like
swaying those reeds below
down along a fictitious Hudson River,
vibrating 'Trane's reed,
all from some manner of horn.
On nights like those I knew
of the way.


Poet, composer of music (Max Able / Abel, Rawls & Hayes), lawyer and spoken-word 
performer (Scapeweavel), L. Ward Abel lives in rural Georgia, and has had hundreds 
of his poems  published in the U.S., Europe and Asia, most recently along with the 
British Poet Laureate in The Reader (UK).  He is the author of Peach Box and Verge 
(Little Poem Press, 2003), Jonesing For Byzantium (UK Authors Press, 2006) and  
newly released The Heat of Blooming (Pudding House Press, 2008).

FYI, my chapbook, Peach Box and Verge, has been published by Little Poem Press (http://celaine.com/LittlePoemPress). My new book of poems, Jonesing For Byzantium, will be published later this year at UK Authors Press (Bristol, UK). Send us your comments on this article
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