This growl the fatherland we first stalked,
this scowl the mother lode we first imagined
solid day duties hurried past gene-spotted nights.
We did not invent this theme.
Film on the fives. Ancient mutterings slow to neutralize.
Hearing the herd, my dear, splashing past muddled urges. But death
in sacred surges singing its skilled and perfect pitch
the cold seize of an extinct sturgeon's Adriatic strain
spoiling the forgotten flesh inked in drama,
this drama of Bolington's wet stream.
Spoiled ugly miner's eye growing green, slowly gone...
The poet choked. The painting dried.
Against the gray ash folded hills his Virginia sky grew black,
chasing spit, there was nothing that lived that night that caught
that's it, so much as a breath of slack.
We reconcile the concept of withering time
racing faster in toil than we ever swore it to be,
against the yellow years of a faster tomorrow
no relic found can improve lost liberty.
DECADES OF PUBLIC and private funding have created a large frumpy professional class for the production and reception of new poetry comprising legions of teachers, graduate students, editors, publishers, and administrators. Poets? Based mostly in universities, these groups have gradually become the primary audience for contemporary verse. Consequently, the energy of American poetry, which was once directed outward, is now increasingly focused inward, but I guess it's been this way for a long time. Me? Think I'll pull, push, exhort, pry, torque, haul ass my own weight outside the grinding gears of establishment bureauocracy poesy. Hence this website and its demands on atomic clearance, where animated bias is the pungent cream of festivities. Click. Click. 404 error. File not found on this server. Click. Click. Damn, this is what I hate about linking to outside tiddly winkers. Link expirations. Here today, gone tomorrow. I had linked to a page touting a national poetry month special called Show Me The Money. It was a good read, but now the link is dead, and I should remove it to keep my SEO score respectable. This is the primary reason I link to Wikipedia pages. They may not be the most thorough or even the most factual presentations of a given subject, but one can link to them and count on their continued existence. At least until their self-funding dries up. Money, money, money...
Richard Handley Waller artist, poet, and lover of music.
"What if you had been a child put to work in a cotton field near Roanoke, AL, and ten years later you found yourself in a room with the Emperor of China? It happened to me, but I didn't have the slightest idea who the man was."
This was the lead sentence to the autobiography Richard Waller was working on before his death. It also reflects on the extraordinarily interesting life he led.
Richard Handley Waller, 81, of Albany, GA, died of heart failure August 8 at Phoebe Putney Hospital, after a long illness. The body will be cremated as per Mr. Waller's express wishes. He will be interred in Roanoke, AL, next to his beloved Mother, Father and Brother; Ethel George Waller Hedrick, Handley Saunders Waller and Thomas Eugene Waller. Mathews Funeral Home in Albany, GA is in charge of the arrangements. A graveside memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. (CST), Saturday, August 16, 2008, at Cedarwood Cemetery in Roanoke, AL. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Albany Symphony in memory of Richard Handley Waller.
Mr. Waller was born in Roanoke, AL, grew up in Newnan, GA, and served in the U.S. Army in Manila and Tokyo in Gen. Douglas MacArthur's Headquarters. While he was in the service, his family moved to Albany, GA. In 1954, he received a BS degree from the School of General Studies of Columbia University in the City of New York, where he lived for twenty years. He returned to Georgia in 1970 and was retired from Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation. He made his home in Albany for over thirty years and was well known in the community.
Mr. Waller was a world traveler and enjoyed the art and architecture of the many countries he visited. He enjoyed his retirement in Albany and was a member and past president of the Georgia Artists Guild; a staunch supporter of the Albany Symphony; and a member of the Albany Writers Club. A talented writer who was not afraid to express his opinion on matters he cared about, Mr. Waller also often injected humor in his editorials and poems. Many will remember his letters to the editor in The Albany Herald's "Squawk Box" and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Also a talented poet, he was the author of two books: Beethoven's Brain and Other Poems, which was used as part of the ticket sales for the Newport Music Festival in Newport, RI in 1995 and what he considered his highest achievement; and The Famous God Said Sonnets. He also composed music and lyrics; played the violin and the guitar. Always creative, he won awards as a talented painter and photographer.
Mr. Waller had an inquisitive mind, and was constantly reading and studying music, art, writing, religion, and, in later years, mastered the computer. He liked to point out that on his paternal great-grandfather's gravestone is carved these words that also describe his life: "He did what he could." His wit and his e-mails will be sorely missed by his family and many friends. He loved to share his knowledge with all.
He was born a Baptist, but died a Universalistone who believes that salvation is extended to all mankind. A life-long bachelor, he is survived by cousins on both sides of his family, Wallers and Georges, and by many nieces and nephews of his step-family, the Hedricks of Albany and Atlantasome loved, some unloved; and, the feeling was mutual. He is also survived by his beloved cat, Prunella.
Still haven't processed my photo op with the Mac Guy Kawasaki...
Have you heard from Landry since the middle of last week? I haven't. And did I tell you what happened when I tried to research the current status of the home ISDN bill still before the Public Utilities Commission (every last one of those 1400 plus dollars) on what is supposed to be a $250 per month flat rate with zero message units? I'm thankful Peter's friend Bret Mingo configured the line and files the papers properly, and alerted me to this nasty little message unit scam that phone companies like to run on us small fry IT startups.
And now that I think of it, it's been a week since I requested a copy of the commercial specs and pricelist by phone. But anyhows, I got quite a bit of runaround at both the telephone company AND the PUC, finally getting a call back from someone in the Department of Energy a few days later(which dazed me for a few seconds until I finally figured out the relational matrix of ifs, ands & buts since he didn't know why he was calling either). Still nothing. He told me I should call the PUC. I told him that's who I thought I had been referred with digits by the telephone company to call. Alas, I rang his office instead. He admitted to being somewhat part of the process, but....
I think I need a telephone job. To know nothing is to fulfill the obligations of the job.
I always thought that one of the reasons why a painter likes especially to have other painters look at his or her work is the shared experience of having pushed paint around.
Best of times, worst of times. Who can turn down the opportunity to slap those famous opening lines from the Dickens story Tale Of Two Cities into the bush leagues every once in a blue moon. Of course it's never easy to harvest or improve the sums of the differences in a social climate where the past is all make-believe and the future is sheer mortal doom. Like a whistle in the dark, life streaks through the conscious mind and even on the brightest day on the fanciest calendar, no one gets a free shot at handling the lightning without consequences. But there are certain habits one notices, certain patterns occupying the people that slowly begin to creep into the register from which the artist takes his cut, much like that quickening recognition of a muted thud wrapped with solemnity as it nails the proud cold pavement with best intentions as most of the sentinel hurry forth with no intentions at all. This muted thud I seek to hear with my own two ears involves two cities, the large scrambling feral city of Washington, DC, the national capital, the international bullseye, its inverted thin skin tokenism masquerading as the beltway bulge, home sweet home to hardcore right along side equally limp dhimmicants and republicratz with two hands wrestling for a single jellybean, spitting images, split tickets, and enough black-bellied potholes of rumor and wreckage to make Stephen Hawking, now all hooked up to a robust afternoon, cry into hisshudderbox of joys.
Then there's Wheeling, West Virginia, a five hour drive northwest of DC. Sitting plumply on the east bank flood plains of the once mighty Ohio River, kindred parts of this sprawling echo from a rare past are pitted into the gnawing Alleghany foot mountains and yesterday's mail where tremendous energies once pumped life into and out of teh long striking surgeon of steel mills, nail factories, unique spanning bridges, and the winnowed glass-blowing strength hurling the holy ghost of cobbled workers into what was once a rather picturesque little city of its own, historic and dignified, polished and craggy, a special glint in the eye of the Industrial Revolutionaries, muscular, charming, artistic and stern.
To answer with a simple pleasantry, a couple of minutes tops, while I continue to be deluged by invitations to gigs and art openings, all of which require hours of time to oblige, and can I even count the number of times I DO oblige my friendly neighborhood culture vultures in my midst, oh yes, dear friends ALL, usually with a stiff penalty at the wallet level, but not always. In fact, most of my rocker friends and foes have obliged me with copies of their great rock record over the years. Show up fresh to gaggle for the night at one of my art shows? Insert laugh track now.
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark once slept in Wheeling, packing supplies in a big haul sent down the Ohio from Pittsburgh, before heading out on their own historic expedition through America, the far west, and common fates of the uncommonly famous, while the city along with the steel industry grew.
Washington is experiencing a growth spurt not felt in many decades, a growth that is manifestly transforming the old city from the sleepy southern town role quite fond and accustomed to its own harsh summers and even harsher winters which had kept the natives to a pace recognized by its own heritage as a pace best suited for quiet relaxation, the very meaning of hip for generations straight back to its marshland founding. The protocols of laws, a spell of business, and then more relaxation.
Squealing Wheeling is gripped by the devastation of an antiquated industry. Don't get the wrong impression. The citizens of the OV stand bold against a double whacking by the same old enemies of an aging infrastruction, an tired unhealthy population, and foul weather. But whatever fondness I hold for this old city, and I am there in spades, there is no escaping the realization that Wheeling is bleeding from the inside out, rusting old factories now long dormant salute the sun-soaked orange evening skies in silence, rotting buildings periodically claimed by the river's raging high waters grow more dank with each passing season a child goes to school, or a college grad begins the long hunt for a decent job and place to live in an area trapped in a downward spiral with no way to outsource nature's repeated assault, hemorraging its population, its tax base, and its future shares of the American dream. Wheeling's local economy and general charm do not lack potential, but problems persist, accrue with every passing pledge, despite heavy doses of encouragement and optimism issuing forth from the astute mouths of those straddling the ambitions and aspirations of those dreamers, dangling by both thumbs along the watchtowersboth inside and outside the northern panhandle and area code 304.
Here's the rub. Wheeling Youth is a MySpace hub. And these kids in their 20s and 30s, despite exhibiting the very same human traits and foibles when up close and personal that we do here in Washington, DC, possess a very special gift. That is the gift of reciprocity. Of good manners. And more specifically, excellent Internet etiquette. When I write to one of my Wheeling acquaintences, remembering I spent only four months among them as I painted the Wheeling Wailing Wall at Yesterday's, they respond in kind. They actually return my mail, and usually answer my question if I post one.
Not so, with this tribe of so-called Washington DC pals, most of whom I have known 10, 15, 20 years or so. Of course they are also ALL artists, rockers, painters, or heavy in mantle of some other wishbang prima donna act. Too busy? To answer with a simple pleasantry, a couple of minutes tops, while I continue to be deluged by invitations to gigs and art openings, all of which require hours of time to oblige, and can I even count the number of times I DO oblige my friendly neighborhood culture vultures in my midst, oh yes, dear friends ALL, usually with a stiff penalty at the wallet level, but not always. In fact, most of my rocker friends and foes have obliged me with copies of their great rock record over the years. Show up fresh to gaggle for the night at one of my art shows? Insert laugh track now.
Isn't this why I left the promises of DC for the reality of Wheeling in the first place? To probe for myself, one fair smile at a time, whether or not DC is as friggin' all-consuming self-important as I perceived it to be, or had the whole snatch a niche world gone completely hardwired, baked to a crude narcissistic core in the course of my own single unexemplary lifetime?
Raised root-first in a very small town myself, I guess I'm just not a big city capo when all the votes are in the bag, although had I hit my stride just a weebit earlier I just might have taken this town. Square peg, trapezoid hole. Can't find the rulebook. Couldn't read it if I did. That's fine by me. Like the poet said, "They can talk about me plenty when I'm gone."
Or not. Doesn't really make a difference, now does it? And now my health plays tricks on me. Gotta love it...
Betsy Sue and I have just returned home in DC from a four-day tour of several specific sites in jolly old New England. First stop of keen interest was the Thomas Paine estate and cottage in New Rochelle, NY (up I-95 a few miles northeast of the George Washington Bridge in NYC), and a rather encouraging conversation with the on-premises caretaker there, a presiding member of the Thomas Paine Society. Always perfect timing, we were beaming when we learned that although the cottage was presently closed for painting and other renovations, conducted as an Eagle Scout project not due for completion for another month, we were offered and we made the quick tour and snapped a few pictures of the tiny man's cottage and what was left of his grounds, all to our patriotic delight.
Although this was not our first encounter with the small stature of most men of that era, it was still shocking to note how often we had to duck to get through doors and even the narrow hallways were notably menacing to the modern super-sized American tourist.
Then we continued on up through Connecticut where we stayed our first night in a quaint little Massachusetts motor lodge in a township called Stirbridge, where the wife swears she recalls staying as a child on family vacation. The next morning (July 4th) we drove the hundred miles up to Lowell, MA to breathe the air around that old milltown which was later decimated by the migration of the mill industry to Georgia and other parts south. Our leading purpose in Lowell was to check out the Jack Kerouac memorial erected in the deceased Beat writer's hometown. We were not disappointed.
Though nary a bust or portrait of the old drunk was present, a dozen or so marble tablets bearing excerpts from Kerouac's books were set length-wise into the stone plaza, clustered among welcomed benches and the handful of towering and smaller weeping willows on an unappointed edge of town seemingly frozen in dingy time still looking eerily like the period of young Jacques' childhood (the 1940s), all of which seemed to capture the desperate and mournful spirit of Kerouac's beat generation.
To the east spanned an old iron bridge, glistening silver in the morning sun but draped in an indifferent rash of predictable rust upon closer inspection. Due east and south, old mill warehouses now converted into luxury apartments were squired by narrow canals which zig zagged through the entire downtown.
It was sizzling even in the shade by now, but amply pleasant nevertheless as we watched the tourist trolleys whiz by with a few riders we would have joined but for other plans for that day. A quick gas-up at the green and white and we were soon cruising again, this time on the Interstate headed forty miles south into Beantown in anticipation of the annual starburst sky, a born-again patriot's holiday in the footsteps and lantern calls of where this country tis of thee all began, where we had reserved a room on the 27th floor of the four star 28 floor Sheraton in the fiendishly trendy and inviting Boston Back Bay midtown neighborhood marked to the west by the Charles River, to the north by downtown, and to the south by Fenway Park - home of the Red Sox who were then busy setting a home run record down in Yankee Stadium by sending seven pitches off pinstriped pitching into the stands. In a hundred years no team had accomplished this feat against the legendary Bronx squads. Look it up.
After checking in and grabbing some lunch, we rested a bit before shooting to the top of the Prudential Tower (50th floor, attached by an indoor mall to our hotel), where for seven bucks apiece we could view the entire Boston sprawl through the active gray haze of smog and 95 degree heat and humidity. But see it we did, and can't wait to view all the pictures. We later joined on foot some 700,000 headstrong revelers marching toward the Charles where after an evening of the Boston Pops and other special guests, the thirty minute fireworks display wowed many.
Boston officials claimed some 700,000 strong had made it to the Charles River Esplanade for this year's festivities, topping the previous high count of a half million with room to spare, and than doubling last year's 300,000 visitors.
We, however, sweaty, exhausted, and hungry, strolled back to the Boylston Street drag to find some dinner, finally deciding on a dapper little Thai place called Bombay Blue detailed with a beautiful expanse of dark teal paint, red brick, and opaque glass walls. Our only complaint was, what else, the heat, but we were smilingly accommodated with seating in the direct line of the fan purring from the cashier counter. My own soft-shelled crab entree sealed the night for me. A half hour pace back to the hotel, and we still hadn't heard the requisite boom of fireworks, but somehow suspected we had missed the show completely, not that I hold any fascination for the light show. I never have, not as a child, not as a drunk, not as an old sober patriot. No appeal at all.
But Betsy was interested, and strangely enough, just as we arrived on foot back in front of the Prudential Tower which would lead back to the hotel, a strong breeze began blowing into the streets off Boston Harbor. The excruciating heat of a mere half hour earlier had vanished.
We decided to plop down on one of the handful of benches there among the modern sculpture installations, soaking up the city and the time. We chatted, and watched quick, pretty people flow across the stones for thirty minutes or so before making it back to the room, but not before Betsy almost ducked me for the hotel bar where the big screen TV had just announced the fireworks were to begin. Not me. I was flustered, fuzzy, and finished. I had to get out of my clothes and horizonstal, still not rested enough after two earlier all-nighters launching RADIO SCENEWASH, my online radio station of which I'll spill more beans later.
So, despite everything, we watched the historic display on television, can you believe it? Boston officials claimed some 700,000 strong had made it to the Charles River Esplanade for this year's festivities, topping the previous high count of a half million with room to spare, and than doubling last year's 300,000 visitors. The big news, echoed various forms of the media, was the influx of travellers from across the nation who had spirited specifically to Boston to toast her as the symbolic cradle of patriotism and freedom that marks this nation's birth.
On the way back, we stopped in Darien, CN for lunch. Quaint? This little nest of quaint is like some fairy tale. Had hot sandwiches at a busy little tavern where the men's restroom was plastered in nudes and other erotica from a bygone era. I asked the wife if she'd had a peculiar potty room experience, and she said no before I told her about the men's decorum. Very strange. And then we were off to Philadelphia where we visited the awe-inspiring Museum of Art, the tiny but delightful Auguste Rodin sculpture gallery, and lastly, the Edgar Allan Poe House, while visiting a friend (Yet Another Steve Taylor) who gave us the play by play tour since all these places are within walking distance of his apartment, although the Poe exhibit is more like a long hike...so we drove. Twas thoughtful of you Richard Waller to call my dear dear Betsy. Something eerie about getting a ring in Philadelphia standing in the EAP museum however. Congratulations on your continued energies. I know you are excited to still be going strong. Keep us informed. I'm tired as tigers with heavy eyelids today, Betsy's at work, but thought I'd let you know I got your note...
Most of this nation's general population of a certain age knows nothing of the struggles and successes of our beloved very first AmericanThomas Paine, Citizen Paine, critic of scroundrels and perfumed highbrows alike, instead we are taught from the overwrought spit-polished images of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, no insult to these men intended, but for the love of liberty, why is the reputation of this very singular mind and heart of the revolution allowed to wither on the vine of American culture?
Long live Citizen Paine! I was told by the Paine cottagemaster that the BBC was planning to cross the pond to film a feature on him. Let's hope so, and let's also bear witness to the desire that the egonomical fox Bill O'Reilly hasn't forever tainted the name of the very author of the American Revolution with his recent attacks on the so-called ultra left Tom Paine web site financed by staunch liberal Bill Moyers, and run by his son...
Rimbaud has received me, and I rock his drunken boat. A fever frothing both his mouth and mine, each glitter phosphorous, sublime kamikaze believer. His archipelagos in the stars now wet with perspiration of dry summer sucking stones, open woes.
He welcomes me in my madness, assures me I am nothing but sheer speechless vision, pale flier of raw bone.
The poet makes himself seer by a long prodigious and rational disordering of the senses. Every form of love, of suffering, of madness, he searches himself, he consumes all the poisons within him, keeping only their quintessences...
I nod gently on this wine, chewing on the tettered ends his long-snapped kept bargeline reveals, aged like finer cheese, mankind's more pretentious pleas.
I am in disgrace, imposed Strictly between the lines hunger drew, Composed of I had it! I had it! But a poor speaker gone near-public With a whetted conscience of mayonnaise And economic morality gone sour, I jerk off into another memory, sifting My self-rising hour, shifting on my feet Like an entrepreneur trading promises, Looking to the burning bush for better days.
I've been swallowed by that whale, Caught in the drift of a dedicated urge. I had it, I'll borrow to Replace it in one revolution or two. Yes indeed! I had it to give it Its proper massage at face value, To grease the palm tree with coconuts Or oil spilt during an afternoon's taboo.
If'n you are polite, say You are void of impulse, and Let it go at that, say no thanks But I have to go. (Periodically Perjury is a motive known To the best of legends.) I had it, almost.
Language, your honor, Is mere alphabet dirt. Abandonment is energy Too sharp to touch without furor, But say, haul it in, Taste beyond contentment The release Doing its own work, And other mad values captioned in crime.
Strapped to thyself against the deck, say Blow, say blow bay blow, say Grab up cane and tame the vicious dog. Know that fear's elect echoes no chorus But somehow somewhere sometimes forgets To clothe itself with dignity befitting Its call, say howl Allen Ginsberg If you chance meeting him In occupied territory Where gods wrestle and speak, say Speak to us in whale. And to the last word Nymphomaniacs and their guessing captors, Legging margins across the dispassionate land, say Hey button those blouses open to angry remarks Ruthless enough to Naomi, say Juggle yesterday's summer Until parenthetical dawn, say Nothing to Walt Whitman, Ezra say Pound, the captain of swans, Willie Mays say hey Neil Young, say Myâ€¦myâ€¦myâ€¦nothing To the brash Elvis, research impulsive, Or Johnny Rotten in the heat Of awkward citizenship.
And Mother Alibi, say the key to happiness Won't open the door Where implication and silence Are only as good As each word implies, Say, how is it every time I pray I feel like deodorized vomit, say Souls grow on bones but die beneath Banker's hours, say Tell us your name whale, and We'll make you a star, casting Matches like chorus lines Between government issues, say Where do we hang our hammock, say Hope a man will cut his hair Simply to punctuate a sentence, or Fix his neighbor a cheese sandwich, say To Delilah Mae Jones, Samson is dead. Say, but There has come another greater than he, say Welcome y'all, say crab canons are delicious Ways of life, say whales of America Are a sign to insurance agents.
If'n you are angrily plundered, say Do not be tricked by men, say But let them trick you, sampling Their techniques So that you are never sent to the orchards To gather unbias pickles, say Pairs of excuses are unexplainable To a whale who is strictly vegetarian For reasons only the father knows, say Midnight cravings innocently coded In hollow rhetoric Are useless to the slayers of Civil disobedience, say Navel oranges tapered to grip expense Sit down, roll around, gnaw bones, shape knees, And remind us that chaos is culture, say Practice what you preach, say Silence. I am in disgrace, almost.
[ 1982, Atlanta, GA ]
"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""