Roy Wahlberg


(listen to the poem, read by Diane R. Wiener)

Old Frank Church was long
dead and gone, but his swaybacked
shack in the overgrown hollow remained
untouched, its urine-soaked furniture
discouraging all human
looters and vandals
venturesome (and imaginative) enough
to wander down the river of grass
which now poured over his lonely dirt road,
then turn right at the big white pine
and swoop down into what had once been
generously considered a front yard.

The shack had long been colonized
by enterprising chipmunks and mice,
nesting comfortably in the stuffing
blossoming like off-white fungus
from the rotting sofa and recliner.

An outbuilding with weathered walls
slouched lazily nearby, its doors
sprung slightly ajar to display
a broad, forgotten offering
of rusted farm tools.

Attached like an afterthought
to one side stood a headstone
with untended rectangular patch
of well-fed weeds, and in that
narrow spot a fox had dug
a den thru musty old bones
and under the floorboards
to nurse in security her newborn,
mewling brood of red pups.

A thicket of alder and willow
thinly curtained off the river
running alongside his plot,
providing a string of shallow
sheltering, grass-lined roosts
for resting neighborhood deer.

What was missing here? —
perhaps it is better to ask
what was gained,
for old Frank had returned
to nurture the same ground
that had once sustained him,
and in his place more life
than before had poured in,
speaking in tongues
that — while living — he never
bothered to learn or to say
but that now, in small part,
was fueled and moved thru him.

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(listen to the poem, read by Diane R. Wiener)

It is a terrible thing
to be erased from your family —
better to have been born an orphan
and never to have known love at all.

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(listen to the poem, read by Diane R. Wiener)

The crests and troughs
of blackbird flocks gave
form to the flight of the air.

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(listen to the poem, read by Diane R. Wiener)

Frost-feathered chickadees
uncoil like smoke from the eaves —
black polka dots on icy sidewalk.

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About the Author

Roy Wahlberg, OID# 103429. Born: 11/20/1951. Life sentence: 1976. His brain later determined to have been so ravaged by early life disease, even hydrocephalus surgery was long denied as pointless (as it proved to be). Ultimately, however, miraculous “compensations” emerged from his brain deterioration and epilepsy treatment: the “Grandma Moses Effect” of late-life artistic drive. For him this took form as musicophilia, hypergraphia, and compulsive versification–the three stabilizing legs of his intellectual stool (both the furniture kind and his overall function, at times a bit scatological).

With autism, dysphasia (verbal deficits), and attention/memory scores in the bottom 5-7%, only through writing can Roy achieve a solid and continual sense of self–that essential ingredient of normal life that is otherwise entirely missing or only flimsily maintained. Halting and forgetful in speech, it is writing alone that releases his mind into smooth and tireless eloquence as the logical thread is held reliably before him by the medium.

Perhaps most importantly, writing allows Roy to find deep and meaningful solace in his almost unbroken solitude, instantly expanding his tiny cell from a lonely cage of despair into cognitive banquet halls filled with infinite imaginative possibilities, a doorway for the spirit, and an inexhaustible, cathartic feast of dream and reason. In many ways, and much more than most, Roy must write in order to truly live — making the writing, as he sees it (though happily so) practically ALL that exists of him.

Two-way email communication with Roy is possible through the website, searching for him as Roy Wahlberg 103429.

His mailing address is:

970 Pickett Ave. N.
Bayport, MN 55003