Monday, May 29, 2017

A Poem I Found Among my Papers---Is it Mine or Someone Else's?

Going through 40 years of papers I found this poem draft in my handwriting  without a date or author.....Some of the syntax seems like mine, in other places not so. Generally, I do not copy out poems by others. On occasion I've found poem fragments without recollection of writing them down which seem strangely unfamiliar while familiar too. If the following work is NOT by me, my apology. In this instance not so interested in the weak craft with excessive use of passive verb tenses and adverbs but more in the content. So here it is:

FOUND DRAFT--

I've not been troubled much
by self-definition, 
leaving such works---
when all was said and done---
to others less inclined
to live, it seems to me, 
but called mysteriously,
to the judgement seat.
Spread your nets fastidiously,
catch a fish or two, 
but where's the sea?
Life's a tangle, isn't it
of pointed fingers?
Just where they point
escapes me!
Live in the web,
if you insist, I'll take
the spaces in between.
Quarrel how the  fountain's 
to be shaped,
I'm one with the water
or I'm nothing, I'll agree,
but shapely, nonetheless
Zero has its elegance
and so do lips
but what's said once
is never said again
I live in the once 
I die in the twice again.

So here's my first revision  dated Memorial Day, May 28, 2017 on a rainy afternoon. Will let it sit awhile. 

I'm not troubled much
by self-definition, 
leaving such work---
to others less inclined
to live in mystery.
Spread your nets fastidiously,
catch a fish or two, 
but where's the sea?
Life's a tangle, isn't it
of pointed fingers?
Just where they point
escapes me!
Live in the web,
if you insist, I'll take
the spaces in between.
Quarrel how the fountain's 
shaped, I'm one with the water
or I'm nothing,
Zero has its elegance
and so do lips
but what's said once
is never said again
I live in the once 

I die in the twice again.



Saturday, May 13, 2017

I Have Eaten

Fresh baked bread to die for, better than sex, when hungry
Grandma’s Icebox chocolate pudding in green dishes
Holiday House ice cream sodas and Shirley Temples in Malibu
My mother’s zucchini casserole and lentil salads 
                                              when the cupboards were bare
My father’s left-over lamb roast cooked in white beans
Mike's chowderI have eaten cherry pie at Knox Berry Farm
Babushka’s Pirozhki cross country on AM Track in 1965
I ate the crisp wafers of the body of Christ numerous times

Verandah’s crepes
Richard Wizansky’s ginger meatballs
Catherine Mariott’s Noodles High
Joan Marr's pickled cauliflower
Ellen Snyder's grape leaves
Mimi's Bueberry Bomb
Peter Gould's Key Lime pie
Usual fare at Packers Corner Farm

Remember well those cannolis from the North End
Miss Hornbeak's candied orange and grapefruit peals
Susan Nagelson's french bread while at Smith

Hungarian Goulash with R.D. Laing on 15th Street 
        when he arrived two weeks early
Drank vanilla shakes in Boulder with Harry Smith whose 
teeth were rotten
Poached salmon I made for William Burroughs and Company 
        on his birthday


That strange dinner party of celestial disrupt when Philip Whalen upset 
    the poet's table at Anne Waldman's when his chair tipped over setting in slow 
       motion the bottle of wine whose content landed in the crotch 
          of esteemed Japanese scholar.........

Borscht at Christine’s with Allen Ginsberg on First Avenue
    and late breakfast in his kitchen when I delivered mail
Homemade ravioli from Houston Street with John Waldman 
Noodle soup with Gina on first Avenue after work
Yanny's stir fried greens, Eliot's vegan fare in Chinatown

These are memorable 
and on and on

Dim Sum with Chogyam Trungpa in his living  room  with Christian contemplatives 
Made Momos with the Sakyong, now Mipham Rinpoche, at '86 seminary
Wheat grass walking with Gelek Rinpoche in Manhattan
Martha's Rice and Beans with the Vajra Regent
More Greens & meat with Trogawa Rinpoche and Khenpo Brothers 
     in John Giorno's Bunker
I've eaten killer Big Macs with Tsultrim Allione
     on road trip with dakinis 
Sushi with Chogyal Namkhai Norbu and home cooked meals
   in Portland and Cambridge

                    I loved eating 
Barbara's lasagne
Paula's quince jam
Lauri's chicken picata when sick 
Marit's garlic mashed potatoes

Chard's pumpkin soup and roast beef sandwiches 
across the street 
          from Emily's house at the Back Forest Deli

A decade of residency meals with NEC poets and disgruntled faculty
I'm more than happy to forget

Now I eat through heaps of garbage
Psychic dross
Most friends dead 

Do Chod-- cook for others
I'm fulfilled
Now I eat air, drink light 
My head bald with Chemo
Preparing for what’s next


Jacqueline Gens

Highland Village
Shelburne Falls, MA


An old draft revised on May 12, 2017 
one sleepless night at 1:30 AM 
and still tinkering
October 3, 2017

Revised again May 28, 2017, June 18, 2017

Photo by Allen Ginsberg -Beat Lunch, 1985
Mapleton Avenue, Boulder, CO