Saturday, October 04, 2008

Rhythm; beginning of autumn

Rhythm; beginning of autumn
Originally uploaded by jhhymas

And here I am at another autumn, the gateway to winter. Eight years since I retired and none of my projected retirement projects are advancing very fast. Things remain undone, and chances are missed. I recently read the memoir that Hayden Carruth wrote about his long friendship with James Laughlin. It is called Beside the Shadblow Tree. I loved this short and heartfelt book. After reading it, I had new ideas about Laughlin, his charitable actions and his marriages. I liked him better than I had before. It sent me back to Laughlin's late-in-life published works, which I had ignored, leaving him back at the Ezuversity and in wealthy youth, except for New Directions, and all that he accomplished there.

I also had a new sense of Carruth's emotional fragility. In that small book, I had met two people (about both of whom I had read quite a bit) in a whole new way. I went around for a couple of weeks writing Carruth a letter in my head. I was going to tell him how much his encouragement had meant to my deceased pal, Pat Shelley, as well! I thought Carruth wouldn't mind hearing these things and of my appreciation for his poetry. It probably would have taken me no more than an hour to actually write this letter and send it in care of his publisher, if I could not find a better address. And while I was thinking about it, he died.

Here's Beth's post about Carruth, with one of his poems. You can find more of his poetry through Google. Like this one:

On Being Asked To Write A Poem Against The War In Vietnam

Well I have and in fact
more than one and I'll
tell you this too

I wrote one against
Algeria that nightmare
and another against

Korea and another
against the one
I was in

and I don't remember
how many against
the three

when I was a boy
Abyssinia Spain and
Harlan County

and not one
breath was restored
to one

shattered throat
mans womans or childs
not one not

but death went on and on
never looking aside

except now and then
with a furtive half-smile
to make sure I was noticing.

Hayden Carruth


  1. Thanks for your comment on my blog and thank you for stopping by. This is a wonderful photograph. I have a tree thing happening, too. I grew up in Michigan, surrounded by huge deciduous oaks. Trying to make things about trees feels authentic to me.
    I am embarrassed to say that I am unfamiliar with Carruth. Thank you for sharing this powerful verse.

  2. What a poem and so good for the times we are in with a preemptive war going on. Haunting as is your story. Sometimes we don't think long enough and sometimes we think about doing something for too long. Life!