Poem: To Michael Perkins | Poetry | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
Pin It

Poem: To Michael Perkins 

Last Updated: 01/03/2017 3:38 pm
Walker, wanderer, libertine,
you volunteered your youth
to Plato's Retreat & wrote
the history of poets earning
their keep writing erotica;
shy, defiant, eager for argument
you picked the automobile
as your enemy & walked four miles
daily over the mountain to work
at the library, befriending dogs
who followed you down in
those hippie years when
everyone lived unleashed.
Your walking sticks matched
your moods: lacquered black
as a dandy, hickory hewn for
those early summer mornings
as a son of Kentucky, a twisted
staff from a thorn tree even though
you never accepted Christ as more
than a good story. To celebrate
our town's two hundredth birthday
you walked to Woodstock, Connecticut
in four days, collecting souvenirs
from the roadside trash & searching out
the Hawk's Nest Pub for lunch

But Parkinson's refuses to play
your games, walker, libertine,
confined to your kitchen, your cane
hooked on the nearest counter top.
You take respites from your trials
in your pillow-backed chair & feed
yourself pills from your silver snap box
as elegant as another man's pocket watch.
But Parkinson's doesn't care. You shake
as wildly as a monkey trying to throw himself
out of a tree or you freeze up in a full body cramp.
We talk about poetry, instead, the boisterous
Hart Crane who spent a Thanksgiving here
& dreamed, at least for the length of a letter,
of staying the winter as caretaker for hotel ruins,
still standing on the mountain to this day;
his only responsibility: two horses & chickens.

Oh, Michael, I give you my blessings.
You walk the netherworld every day
inside your body—your valley of flames,
your forest of bones—while I, so healthy &
lucky, waste so much motion, driving down
to Starbucks for a latte or to the library
to return an unread overdue Hemingway.
I'm of an age when I trot up & down
my cottage stairs ten times a day &
forget what I came for, my mind lost to
insurance bills or the web's latest insanity.
What was my little chore? Where did
my life go? Now in the kitchen
you have something to show me;
you reach for your cane, you stand
on your feet balancing on an unruly ship
& tipsy your way forward. Moments later
I hear banging & thumping from the stairwell.
I know you'll return with the poem you wanted.

Speaking of Poems,

Tags: , ,

Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Hudson Valley Events

submit event
Art Exhibit: Chimba "Reproducing Life: Conception" @ Window On Hudson

Art Exhibit: Chimba "Reproducing Life: Conception"

June 2-28 — In the windows, the canvases by Chimba (Chiarra Jonelle Hughes Mba) present...
"Porn Weavings" @ 11 Jane St. Art Center

"Porn Weavings"

May 22-June 27

View all of today's events

Chronogram on Instagram

Latest in Arts & Culture

  • Celebrating Juneteenth 2021 in the Hudson Valley
  • Celebrating Juneteenth 2021 in the Hudson Valley

    Juneteenth marks the official end of slavery in America on June 19, 1865. Today, the holiday focuses on Black achievements and culture, recognition of inequality and systemic racism in the United States, and the ongoing fight for equal rights. 2021 brings an expanded list of ways to celebrate Black freedom and to reckon with the racial past and present of the United States.
    • Jun 14, 2021
  • 8 Great Hudson Valley Events This Week
  • 8 Great Hudson Valley Events This Week

    The return of summer fun is here.
    • Jun 14, 2021
  • The Reher Center Holds Kingston's Ninth Annual Multicultural Festival
  • The Reher Center Holds Kingston's Ninth Annual Multicultural Festival

    This June 13, 20, and 27, the Reher Center for Immigrant Culture and History hosts its ninth annual Kingston Multicultural Festival. Participants will be able to watch performances by dancers, musicians, and poets from diverse backgrounds in the TR Gallo Park gazebo. There will be pop-up eateries, each with their own informational posters about the history and culture of the food they’re making and serving. Central to this year's festival is the Worry Dolls Project, or "Proyecto Muñecas Quitapenas" in Spanish, a Guatemalan craft tradition brought to over 700 local Kingston students.
    • Jun 7, 2021
  • More »