Michael Northen

To Larry Eigner

(listen to the poem, read by the author)

In  August the last of the Wordgathering founders  died.
	Like you, they lived in chairs.
	Like you, they wrestled with speech.
	Like you, they wrote what they could see
		from a porch, 	a yard, 		a window
			       (bird            tree               sky)
But they wanted  their stories in the world 
	Wanted to let others know the work of poets like themselves.

You yourself said,
        don’t think of yourself
        there is always something else

They had no objective poetics
only what experience had taught them
and the hope that others would want to know.
Narration is no sin when it brings
hidden names to life.
And they, too, had names: Stu, Dana, Yvette, Denise.

You would not approve of this poem
but like their work
It honors you.

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(listen to the poem, read by the author)

				to  form

the freed
and dis
wrested from
rhyme & rhythm
what I shook off in youth
breaking those patterns
that held us in place

Give me a child until seven Augustine said
and he’s mine for life. The child is returning.

Leaves descend in a hemorrhage of color
maple, aspen, gum at odds with each other
locust, sassafras, linden, oak
jockeying for place and the sun’s privilege.
A million tongues and hands all ….
It is too much.

I need a controlled burn.
Retreat to the comfortable bias of line length
Retreat to the easy audism of rhythm
Remembering what first drew me here
Remembering again where it will all end.

Read Michael Northen’s reviews of Sustaining Air: The Life of Larry Eigner by Jennifer Bartlett and Agora by Gretchen Gales, in this issue of Wordgathering.

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About the Author

Michael Northen was the facilitator of the Inglis House Poetry Workshop from 1997-2010 and the editor of Wordgathering from 2007-2019. He was also a participant editor in the anthology Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability and the anthology of disability short fiction, The Right Way to Be Crippled and Naked (both from Cinco Puntos Press). He is currently editing another anthology of disability poetry.