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New Poems

The following poems have been written since the publication of Pink Zinnia.  They and the photographs are copyright 2010.

***

The Seated Musician
 
the final terracotta figure in the exhibition
was called “the seated musician”
this young man was sitting on the ground
his legs fully extended
he was holding an instrument that had
  long since turned to dust
probably a stringed instrument
he would pluck or play with a bow
his face was unlike the faces of the others –
infantrymen, generals, bureaucrats
his features were soft, his expression, tender
you understand he played his zither
not just with his hands
but with his dulcet spirit
when he returned my gaze
with a shy smile
I held my breath to hold the moment
and then he turned back into clay
waiting two thousand years to play
for his dead emperor
buried in a vast necropolis
while China became China
just above his head
 
 
Franklin Abbott
18 February 2009
Stone Mountain
 
The High Museum in Atlanta exhibited figures from the
terracotta army of China’s first emperor.  Over two thousand years
old, they were buried for millenia. 
www.high.org

***

Mamaw —
My Mother’s Mother
 
my grandmother told me the story
of her name when I asked who for
or how she was named Christine
Christine was the 13th of 14
for her father and the 9th of 10
for her mother
her older brother Lesslie
died of influenza before
the close of the First World War
her closest sister Amalta
became a grand diva
of the Eastern Star of Alabama
and married the Postmaster
of Birmingham even though
they lived in Alabaster
and died childless
which is why I sit on her
horsehair overstuffed Victorian sofa
 
my grandmother told me
she had gone with her mother
to the factory where she worked
where she was sat outside
to wait and not move
when the woman she was named for
a friend of her mother’s
stopped in front of her
and asked the question
do you know who I am?
I asked her
if she did and what
did she say
(she was only 6 or 7)
she looked at me
with her cow brown eyes
without blinking
and told me plain:
I spit in
her face
 
by the time of our conversation
her Parkinson’s Disease made help
necessary for everything manual
I fed her now just like she fed me
when I was tiny
I held the straw to her mouth
while she suckled a vanilla milkshake
I’d brought with the onion rings
she loved from the Sonic Drive-In
 
I always cried afterwards
alone in the elevator
of McKendree Manor
but while we were together
only smiled
as she smiled back at me
happy for the next bite
the next sip
and the next salutation
 
between the spiteful child
and the grateful elder
a life worn smooth
and round as a stone
in the bed
of a mountain brook
 
 
Franklin Abbott
April 10 -16, 2009
Stone Mountain
 
in memoriam
Christine Watson Carpenter

The Order of the Eastern Star is the women’s auxiliary of the Freemasons.

***

At Fifty
 
for Martin Ledford in honor of his 50th birthday
 
 
if you were a hippopotamus, orangutan
  ostrich, condor, pilot whale or
  wandering albatross you could
  live this long if lucky.
if you were Henry the 8th you would
  execute your fifth wife,
  Catherine Howard.  Were the next
  five years worth it?
if you were Cardinal Richelieu
  you would found the Academie Francaise
  and become immortal.
you wrote the final volume of
  THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE
  ROMAN EMPIRE.  You wrote
  THE AFFLUENT SOCIETY, THE GUNS
  OF AUGUST, HISTORY OF SEXUALITY,
  ON THE ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES,
  DRACULA, STEPPENWOLF, CANCER
  WARD and TAR BABY.
you died if you were Errol Flynn
  and danced if you were Anthony Quinn.
like Katsushika Hokusai you say,
  “I was born at age 50.”
if you were Wagner you would meet
  King Ludwig.  if you were Mahler you
  finish your 8th symphony.
like Rodin you, at last, begin
  to accumulate wealth.
you found the boy scouts like
  Robert Baden-Powell
you win the PGA in Canada
  like Arnold Palmer.
you can still walk ten miles
  in an hour and a half
  (if you have to) and jump
  twenty feet to or fro
  should the devil cross
  your path.
 
 
Franklin Abbott
24 January 2009
Stone Mountain

for Martin Ledford on his fiftieth birthday

 
NOTE:  All information taken from
TOLSTOY’S BICYCLE by Jeremy Baker
.

***

At Sixty
 
at sixty you are older
than any snapping turtle
that ever was
if you are an oak
or a beech you produce
your best seed
if you are Eleanor
Roosevelt you are
a widow when
Franklin sputters out
Mrs. Pankhurst
could finaly vote
for the first time
when she was your age
if you are British
you must retire
the Foreign Service
if you really are
007
park your car
and turn in badge
you are no longer
magnetic
you ask yourself
why after his
harrowing  scuplture
   of Balzac
did Rodin become
so rich he could not
but succumb
to the whores
of Paris?
(and how rich
is that rich?)
if you are
a woman
you might
still
kill
a mile
in under
eight
minutes
   (especially if chased
by Rodin)
Rumplestilskin Steiglitz
marries Rapunzel 
Georigia O’Keefe
Irving Berlin
a Jew writes
Easter Parade
St. Brendan sails
from Ireland
into the vast
Atlantic Mystery
for the first
of three times
to discover
North America
think about it:
you are older
than any alligator
ever was
   if you are a beech
   or an oak
   you produce
   your best seeds
and Plato says
you are just ripe
   enough
   to become
a judge
of your own human
    being
 
 
Franklin Abbott
19 April 2007
Stone Mountain
 
for Andy Bain in celebration
of his sixtieth birthday
 
facts taken from Tolstoy’s Bicycle
by Jeremy Baker

***

Meditation Rock
 
returning I went there first
I went there last
first for the view
last for the memory
the old stones
already understand
every goodbye
flecks of mica
veins of quartz
reflect every sunrise
moonrise, meteor shower
and my eyes
sees for miles and miles
the rolling green
under the bellies
of hanging mists
about to rain
 
in this place
of fern and moss
and lichen
a few asters
are still blooming
while Autumn
creeps crimson
topaz and pumpkin
into vine leaf
that winds around
and winds around
and winds around
the memory
and the view
 
Franklin Abbott
17 November 2009
Stone Mountain
 
The poem is written about Meditation Rock, a vista point,
at The Mountain Retreat Center on Little Scaly Mountain
in the Southern Appalachians near Highlands, North Carolina.
It had been over a decade since my last visit to the center
and I was intent on spending time on Meditation Rock.
My dear friend and Gay Spirit pioneer, Raven Wolfdancer’s
ashes had been dispersed there.  I wondered would I feel
his presence and I did, not as Raven but as Presence.
The attached photos are ones I took from that visit.

 

***

The Fairy Buddha of Pasadena
 
for Yolo Akili on his 28th Birthday


 
 
the Fairy Buddha of Pasadena
  isn’t a big fella, he smiles a golden smile
he could look out the window
if he opened his eyes
his old friend Yolo is sitting on a stone bench
  in the garden under the umbrella
    of a princess tree
watching the purple flowers falling down
floating on a gentle California morning breeze
smiling too at the few who come and go
 
the Fairy Buddha has wings
  but he doesn’t fly away
wears a crown but has no queen
no court, no means of support
a long time has passed
since a pilgrim pressed
gold foil offerings into his eyes or nose
or folded hands
he sits in the little museum
passed by by an occasional lost tourist or two
or a gaggle of school children out on a field trip
once in awhile he is dusted lovingly
  by an elderly Asian docent
     who thinks she hears him humming
 
he smiles as he dreams
his fairy buddha dreams
he smiles as once in awhile
a camera flashes on his faded golden patches
while his old friend Yolo
sits under the umbrella
of the princess tree
watching purple blossoms
floating down
she after he after she
on a gentle
California
afternoon breeze
 
Franklin Abbott
14 October 2009
Stone Mountain

***

Losing Irma Lee
  a gestalt poem
 
her brown eyes were confusing
she was so much water
she was aquamarine amniotic
you could be a tadpole swimming
  inside her grace
when you looked into her eyes
the earth looked back at you
when she closed her eyes at last
you cried and fell down
on the earth
that held you
  gently
like she did
when you knew you
  had to let go
and didn’t want to
  completely
 
 
Franklin Abbott
11, 12 March 2010
Stone Mountain
 
Dr. Irma Lee Shepard died last week after a long decline into dementia.
She was an eminent psychologist who taught, wrote and practiced Gestalt Psychology
with her partner Dr.Joen Fagan.  She was part of the founding faculty of the clinical
psychology program at Georgia State University and served as President of the
American Academy of Psychotherapists.  I was privileged to know her as a therapist
and mentor in the context of a long term psychotherapy group she co-led with
the late Dr. Earl Brown.  She was an openly lesbian professional before it was safe
to be so.  Her courage opened the door for many gay and lesbian psychotherapists and
her compassion and patience were the matrix of many a rebirth into wholeness and healing.

***

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2 comments on “New Poems

  1. Franklin,

    No new new poems since “Losing Irma Lee” was posted a long time back? “At Fifty” caused me to visit Martin’s website (something I hadn’t done in a while; nicely done). It’s almost zinnia time. Where are the flowers?

    Steve

  2. It is safe to be so
    in examples of one
    at a time of many
    on a Buddhist work table
    The numbers are rife
    of scrawled promise
    left open to issue
    safer than sleep
    hjakajohnleake

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