Month: March 2014

tommy “bard res”



early april morning

gentle taste of spring

sun shining blue sky

birds cheerily singing

happy melodies

on  warm soft breeze

surviving season of long winter

frigid arctic degrees

accumulating snow drifts

bastard clock hands racing

running out of ticks

greybeard poet

collection of knicks and knacks

golden aging dilemmas

toes grotesquely curling

painful foot spur steps

successful cataract surgery

blurry haze gone

macular degeneration worries

wondering about passing

new driver’s license test

dangerous a-fib ripples

changing coumadin prescription

to eliquis meds

annual chest mri

check aneurysm growth

losing teeth

yet still a decent smile

surprising realization

how sometimes distant past

seems like only yesterday

december 1936

little tommy’s birthday

margaret and emery’s son

young boy

growing up

three rivers michigan

small midwestern town

like 1950’s peyton place

always hungry for adventure

challenging the unknown

not satisfied

being like everyone else

other people choosing

boring safe routines

wasting precious lives

brave romantic

trying family life

surviving three marriages

collecting interesting memories

gayle’s father

telling bootlegger’s tales

working for purple gang

wayndotte fisherman

finding bodies in detroit river

carl and evelyn

pressing me to quit college

earning money

buy their daughter things

new 1954 chevy

seventeen hundred dollars

no down payment

years with wife caryl

sold middle class experiences

emily post niceness

buying big house

new automobile

shiny enamel and chrome

expensive furniture

fancy interior decoration

sear’s “revolver” debt

meatloaf sundays

green beans leftovers

next week’s menu

babies babies babies

shitty pissy diapers

cooking special formula

colic and teething discomfort

logging late hours

nightly rocking chair miles

olga’s husband

older swiss miss nurse

refighting ww-ii with her ex

mad bedroom mating

wild exotic sex

apprenticeship with crazy woman

yelling and crying

door slamming silence

suicide her answer

when not getting her way

poet now alone

upper peninsula ghost mining town

without wife

serious lady friend

owning old row house

mortgage finally paid

social security check

middle of the month

other retirement dollars

michigan pension

for college professor years

final outlasting

bitter classroom burn out

quiet calumet residence

piles of books and dvds

organizers full of poems

photographs framed and loose

solitary creative escape

place to push inspired visions

scribbling words

stuff for new poems

across blank legal tablet page

like ferlingetti’s shack

with kerouac ghost

big sur wilderness

gary snyder’s fire tower

summer writing retreat

saving money

for later travels

lake superior lighthouse

lonely keeper

with time to muse and write

distant alaskan log cabin

home of jack london’s

“call of the wild”

place of robert service’s

“men who don’t fit in”

vermont stone house

of scott and helen nearing

writing about “good life”

splake’s keweenaw peninsula

ancient bard house res

“beat hotel” environment

like paris creative scene

visiting beat’s seclusion

early morning espresso

with crossword puzzle challenge

rosetta café

like left bank bistro

where camus sipped wine

pressed his existential edge

soft shadowy whispers

piaf’s ghostly voice

now doddering old fart

thinning gray beard

pressing past memories

pictured rocks summers

lonely campfire nights

mornings writing poems

sweet dutch master’s aromas

seeking artistic wisdom

from boozy bushmills dreams

still regularly engaging

elusive damn dame muse

wrestling with another

poem two or three

until mind shuts down

body wears out

with desperate final breaths

wondering about celebrity

artist henry darger’s

creative talents recognized

following his death

calvary cemetery service

splake granite rock

red tibetan prayer flag

bones and ashes scattered

across cliffs escarpment

floating from poet tree heights

his mountain lion watching

poet coming home


doomsday library – “first five books”

the reader of this commentary should understand that i have read and enjoyed all of the books on my “doomsday library” list.  i also found the decision of the top ten books to be an extremely difficult choice to make.  in addition, it should be understood that whether living on a desert island, in a mountaintop stone hut, or cabin in the deep forest, my books would be reread several times.  so, the strength of my authors is their reminder of important past events and to continue to provide me with insights to new experiences.

pilgrim at tinker creek
annie dillard

i have many writing friends who live on the west coast and in the warmer southern states who frequently ask me, “t, how can you stand those bitter upper peninsula winters.” my response is probably not very convincing to them, however, i would not feel comfortable living where i did not experience the changing of the different seasons.

annie dillard’s book grew out of her personal journal recording her meanderings around tinker creek in the blue ridge mountains of virginia. the book, pilgram at tinker creek, is divided into four sections, each one describing what dillard saw during each passing season.

the book’s narrative identifies with the area’s flora and fauna and suggests to me what i should see and understand during my visits to the upper peninsula wilderness areas. i read pilgrim at tinker creek the first time one summer while camping in the pictured rocks outback. two days after reading about the “giant water bug,” i saw one devouring a frog in a backwater swamp

in short, annie’s book is my continuous outdoor guide.

henry david thoreau

walden is a book that should be read at least once a year by all students and adult citizens. the wise observations and recommendations made by thoreau provide an excellent guide to measure an individual’s vision and the progress of their life.

in the pages of walden, thoreau mentions “masses of men lead lives of quiet desperation” and strongly recommends “simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.” in the chapter “what i lived for” thoreau says:

“the millions are awake enough for physical labor; but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, only on in a hundred million to a poetic or divine life.”

having become a poet in my senior, graybeard years, i am, as the author of walden says, marching to a different drummer.

trout fishing in america
richard brautigan

college professors lost in their academic posturing and alaskan politicians who have acted to destroy their state’s wilderness will never understand or appreciate trout fishing in america.  author brautigan believes that trout is a creature of great natural beauty, but also does not believe in catching them. in his short story “the trout fishing diary of alonzo hagen” brautigan makes a chart detailing “trips made–trout lost.”

also in the story “the cleveland wrecking yard” brautigan described selling used trout streams:

“how much are you selling the streams for. . . . six dollars and fifty cents a foot. . . that’s for the first hundred feet. . . after that it is five dollars a foot. . . how much for the birds. . . thirty-five cents a piece. . . but of course they are used, . . .”

in all of brautigan’s writings, there is a short clever wit to his imagination, which explains why only those open to new ideas and writing styles will appreciate reading his books.

a fan’s notes
frederick exley

exley was a fine writer, alcoholic, failure at marriage and rehabilitation, and possessed an alter ego in the football player frank gifford who played for the new york giants. with his writing and personal credentials, how could i not relate to the life of exley. all you have to do is substitute the university of michigan wolverines for his new york giants.

for most of my life i have failed to measure up satisfactorily to what the “great american dream” required of mature individuals. however, the summer that i wrote my first poem and declared myself an artist freed me. it saved me from being one of society’s ordinary spectators quietly watching life from the sidelines.

cold mountain

whatever season i climb the cliffs–spring, summer, autumn, or the upper peninsula time of the long white–this graybeard poet carries along with him the poems of the crazy chinese hermit.  han-shan described the nervous noisy big city life and how he quickly became a prisoner of the things that money could buy.  he returned to the wilderness, prowling about the forests and streams.  his poems say life is too short and that the only true way to determine truth is through meditation.

today, hiking up the cliffs and standing in the summit’s shadows, han-shan and i listen together to the mad poetic voices spoken by the winds.

(continued in “doomsday library – second five books”)

the moon

the moon

the moon – front cover

this past week i received the new copies of the march edition of the moon. this is a fine small publication edited by alison vyain in fort wayne, indiana. i was extremely pleased with the splake cover photographs and my two poems in the new the moon production.

t. kilgore splake

smug others saying
“you need counseling
a good shrink”
preachy pios sob’s
so goddamn sure
they’re perfect

t. kilgore splake

cold hobo campfire
invisible shadow moving on
hard lonely life
no loving wife
caring son or daughter
sour whiskey breath
wrinkled threadbare clothes
boots with many miles
solitary poet
thin morning light
writing new words
desperate chaotic lines
dreams of new love

the moon - back cover

the moon – back cover