October 26, 2012
Considering the season: My favorite of the Halloween poems I’ve written over the years. Have you ever created something that made you smile when you thought about it? That you weren’t sure how it happened that you made this thing but it knocks your sox off? This poem does that to me. Tickles me. So, Happy Halloween. Wishing you all many treats and no tricks. Until next year…
October Knob and Broom
Wind holds as the bonfires
grow crackle and spark
maple leaves fly away crows
caw and caw
what witness do you bear
jackdaw and superstition?
All Hallow’s Eve
and my rusted hobgoblins
so many apples bobbing on icy waters
rise up shiver and haunt
Children bloated and sweet
grin like fat little pumpkins
of summer made flesh
predict gifts under a sharp and radiant moon
As I needle and crochet shawls
from my jagged bones
rattle cast and spin
tooth of the earth
and winter is a-coming soon
(What do you fear?)
Happy Birthday Max.
My nephew is 16 today, my brother’s only son, he lives with his parents outside of Phoenix AZ and phoned me (diganabbit one of those new fangled e-phone) a photo holding his first Driver’s License. At the risk of sounding banal it is difficult contemplating that Time Marching On concept. My sister-in-law, Laura was pregnant with my nephew 16 years ago that summer my father, Max Martin Bogen, died. So to honor both her father and ours she named her son Max Paul Bogen — Paul being her father’s first name.
For many many years whenever I thought of Max I’d feel a quick stab of loss that I’d stuff down as quickly as possible. Every birthday meant that my father had been dead for that many years. My nephew however, is his own human being. From birth he was loving, kind, smart and so cute all the ladies at his church had to touch his wild curly hair when the family came for Sunday services.
I must admit though, I do not know boys very well, in terms of gift giving or spending time up close and personal in a manner of speaking. How to reach out?
I remember when I was a child — some weird aunts and uncles would show up that I hardly knew. Maybe I’d see them 5 times in my life. Who were these people? Is that what I am?
I can honestly say I never wanted to have children. Never and not for a minute. But I DO like being Auntie Laurel — many of my L A friends, mostly from childhood or college, have bestowed Auntie-hood upon me regarding their daughters. Quite a bit easier since I know what girls are like. And things they like to do. I could take them to the theater to see Cathy Rigby live in Peter Pan, or we could have tea at Bullock’s Wilshire tea-room. Plus I can send them home when I get tired.
This sounds cavalier but it isn’t really. I also know myself. I have been schizophrenic since first diagnosed in 1971. I’ve been hospitalized so many times I don’t even know how many times it has happened. I’ve had 3 series of ECT treatments. So I don’t think having a child would have been a good thing. Saving the world from myself, I guess that’s the best way to see it.
I attended a reading this evening at Beyond Baroque: Wanda Coleman, Amelie Frank, Maria Mazziotti Gillan. I’d hazard that it was the best reading I’ve attended this year. Perhaps because I’ve know Wanda since the 1970s and Amelie for quite a few years, I expected the customary pleasures of hearing colleagues at the peak of form. And Yes, they were.
There was something almost Olympian about Wanda Coleman’s reading. She had been ill of late, so did not speak out loud until it was her time at the podium. The diagnosis?
Dr. Bogen (sic) — Even though ill, Coleman suited up and gave a stellar reading. Her work, covering a range of themes and styles, from the jazzy to the noir then to the visceral, and with a macabre humor at times, she gave her performance her all. At one point, she had to wipe her face with a cloth and I had a sense that I wanted to say you are a trooper Wanda, I had such respect and admiration for her. The poems were brilliant too.
I have watched Amelie Frank grow and become seasoned over years. It has been a lovely thing to behold. I don’t mean to sound like a pompous old fuddy duddy (blah blah blah), but OK, I have been a poet in Los Angeles for over 40 years. I have watched the tides of poets who come here looking for — I do not know what, although the lure of Hollywood often brings them. Some last, some do not. Some move away, go to graduate school. Some die.
Frank could have been any of those. But she is not. She has endured the seismic upheavals to others close to her and has gained a wisdom from that pain that is hers alone. And thrived.
The real surprise, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, was simply breathtaking. Reading last, the audience for the most part did not know her. A couple left before her set began. More’s the pity because they missed the opportunity to hear work that resonated with truth in its depiction of one woman’s life.
But here’s the trick — on the surface, these poems are about one woman and her life. But Gillan takes that personal and expands it to the universal so that her husband’s slow descent to death is also an emblem in the BP oil spills. If you read that Gillan is reading at your city, I highly recommend.