Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Poetry By Jack D. Harvey

Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, Mind In Motion, The Comstock Review, The Antioch Review, Bay Area Poets’ Coalition, The University of Texas Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal and a number of other on-line and in print poetry magazines over the years, many of which are probably kaput by now, given the high mortality rate of poetry magazines. The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, N.Y. He was born and worked in upstate New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired. He once owned a cat that could whistle Sweet Adeline, use a knife and fork and killed a postman.

Al Mein Gelt Verspilt

       After Grimmelshausen's
Melchior Sternfels von Fuchshaim
You son of a whore;
you goddamned arrogant bastard,
all your money pissed away,
again and again,
vagrant and on the move,
your locomotion never stops
travel never gets old,
and vagabondage becomes
a rhombus;
Paris to Vienna
to the Schwarzwald,
to Moscow, to mermen,
ending on an island paradise;
idylls of an
out and out scoundrel,
a picturesque rogue,
leaving his life,
his skirmishes
on the road and
of his own free will,
coming to peace at last.

What a life!
Melchior comes juggling
along life's distorted turnpike,
his cloak, a crust of wool,
disappears around a corner,
but like an architrave,
supporting and adorning,
Melchior, our low water,
our ebb tide,
our luck, reappeareth!

Along this road,
his breastplate creaks and
squeaks, debased from
too much hard use;
a skillful soldier,
a better captain, but
bad decisions among
gentle folk folded him up;
a bungled passage,
a few hasty words and
departure was final.

Skipping out in the night,
the moon is reticent
and behind closed doors
what goes on is
nobody's business and
no help to this wanderer;
no charitable souls
in God's light or livery
live here.

Melchior strides on like
the dragoon he never was,
ramps comically and
catching some
dumb country lass,
retires at last with a sphinx
who stinks of more than knowledge;
in the morning her lovely
stone arms hold no more than
the billow of Melchior's bedclothes.
He left hours ago,
marching across the inhospitable heath;
his intent lasted to a satisfying root,
a roll in the hay and
no goodbyes;

doesn't have the time.

These adventures come in flocks,
and what in all the world,
what in all the world
is as real as the red herrings
thrown across his meandering trail,
in the windings of his ways,
and windy, too, from too
many open windows,
too many getaways;

no time for introspection
in the heat of the moment.

Melchior whispering in the
grey ears of Death, it's not time    
yet, it's not, but Melchior's fears
assume oracular importance,
on his snorting horse
he rides hard, rides on and on;

any delay may pitch him down.

The poetry of the moment given
to the most Fabian of his
lights of love,
the best of all his rare birds and
clear-toned canaries,
and let her do with it
what she wants;
speak clear-toned vowels
never before heard
in any of the lands he saw,
the cities and villages he visited;
like a Bengal tiger raging and
shifting his line of march,
like a beggar, too,
when occasion demanded.

This is the end.
An island of peace,
a romance of fate and abdication.

Before we resume our
various hyperborean tasks,
let us pay some respect
to this scoundrel, this devourer,
this waster, this wanderer;
let us be warm and friendly
all the livelong day
to his memory,
to a man
not afraid to go his own way,
large bold unpredictable,
who performed tawdry wonders,
who had his luck,
good and bad,
and laughed at it.
Let a last percussion of
prima-donnas shout loud
the glad verbiage of
approbation and love;
glory, glory, glory,
in excelsis,
cog and wheel,
type and terminal of
the armies of disorganized chance.

Melchior, props we are
and we know it,
not necessary for your support,
but in your unwritten reports
signal us sometimes,
put us in your island scrapbook,
for we, too, trace your footsteps
and this, too, Melchior, remember
delusion we do and deceit,
when the harpoon of doomsday
pierces our gloomy backs.


When we were young,
Red, my friend, we
heard the crickets,
thousands, in the woods
in spring, we
loved the same girls,
one after another,
climbing on and off.

But now young
no longer,
the days have been
snipped away.

Our lovely hair
and strong arms,
our hearts and legs,
weak and fragile
as relics
in a glass box.

And my Red,
an old
bird-headed trembler,
and me like
an asparagus,
cooked too long
in a pot.

    In the Caverns

Be a Spartan
of the night, a Puritan,
a pilgrim with his
staff and purse or
maybe Paris on the lurk

made his choice among
stark naked goddesses;
Aphrodite got the nod and
on her say and
on his way
off he goes to collect
his dangerous fateful blonde.

Dishonest ominous Paris.

His mother's birth
of a burning brand
no dream at all,
after all.

So what's the lesson?
Can't fight your fate
by day or night?
Dig into the dream
and know it for what it is.

Eat of the dark;
uprooted, adrift,
deprive yourself of
the love, the ties
that bind us
together in the
same lonely outposts;
cast out like Cain,
we eat from the same bowl;
blind as moles,
we burrow down deep
for safety we can't reach;
lost at sea and
under an empty sky
still surviving,
forlorn sailors
finally thrown up dead
on the beach.

Eat of the dark
in Plato’s cave,
that dirty hole,
go ahead and get it down
your unwilling throat;
those shadows are real enough
and will do for your fate.

In the city of light,
not Paris' namesake,
take a subway, a bus,
to the Paris
nobody sees or knows;
dark green awnings
over sidewalk cafes,
the drop of Pernod,
the last dark bottle
leads back
to the shepherd on the hills
passing judgment
or, why not, those goddesses
transported to a new world,
a new love for those blondes
spread out on the beach,
a new respect;
California’s sunburnt angels,
bodies bright with baby oil,
good for divine whatnot;
pick one out for your own
and what can be loved
more than these shining divinities
reft from the meandering streams
and hills you left behind?
Pick one out for your own
and what can be more rewarding
than her chosen sweet mouth?

This Paris or that Paris
who stole what was not his
and rowed her home.

It’s all in the
same dark place, anyway.
Maybe you don’t know it,
maybe it's nothing
but a name to you.

Eat of the dark;
Paris ate spoons of it,
played with life and death
and destiny,
the will of the gods,
until he got used to it,
cute with it,
clever and astute
in the dark of hell
while Troy burned
in the distance.

He and only he,
dying on the mountainside,
got to see
transfixed white-hot,
like golden wires
Helen's burning hair.
Helen in hell;
a puppet in the dark,
she knew her end
before she started.

So eat, eat of the dark;
devour it, take it to heart
and learn the lesson
of loss, of loneliness
of making the wrong choice,
whatever the price,
of chancing the goddesses'
good ending
being not so good.  


Gadabout God faces famous courtesan,
tits and all,
calls Moses a fraud, calls Jesus false
as the bloody cross he hung from;
tricks of the trade, snakes in the grass,
he calls them, all of them;
read all about it, it's all here,
plain as day or the sparkling night.

Queens leave adultery to
their daughters instead of cold millions;
read all about it, read about
flames, arson, dying firemen,
flying bullets and
dead famous entertainers,
death coming to Disneyland
in a hoop-skirt;
lapidary hoopla, it's all there,
bold as brass, stupid as paint,
creating coffins of words,
black and fleeting,
holding us briefly
and no more.

We ain't talking about the good word,
boys and girls,
the gospels to come, to be told,
to be treasured;
just the daily bleating, the comings and goings,
the ratcheting of infamous feats,
retarded admirals and presidents
at home and abroad,
in big trouble, uh-oh,
stays of execution,
all kinds of sinners and whores
in the fields of earth and
at the end of the road, the end of now,
as we know it, a modest apocalypse.
Wow! And forget it.

God, sly as a fox and bold as a lion,
scales down his limitless circumference,
signaling from the sky,
comes down again, this time
harrowing not only hell,
but earth's own sweet self,
not only boxing
the daily evangelists into oblivion,
but bringing to us all
His grace and terrible truth;
ripping out now with
the message of eternity;

none of it lasts, folks,
not a goddamned bit of it.    

    No Shining Water

Well, how, big chief,
I am an Indian too.
Well let's get drunk around
my fireplace too.
Let's get drunk one time
together and take a nap together;
after, let's throw away our past,
every blessed thing we loved,
throw it away for good;
it betrayed us, we
hate it all, the sacred dances,
the forest, the plains,
the wigwams, long houses, horses,
birch-bark canoes, bloody war-raids,
bloody scalps, bows and arrows,
all of it,
we hate it all,
reminders, remainders
of despair and loss,
the trappings of disappointment,
the junk of millennia, chains
harnessed to hold us close
to those days
on the reservation,
not gone in a moment, we know,
not gone ever.

Toss it all, toss it all,
those memories,
don't think about them,
don't think at all;
just take a rest
from everything awhile

and let it be.

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