Red Car Goes By: Selected Poems 1955-2000

Red Car Goes By: Selected Poems 1955-2000

by Jack Collom

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781931157018
Publisher: Tuumba Press
Publication date: 09/10/2001
Pages: 514
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author


Jack is a poet, essayist and creative writing pedagogue. His most recent collection of poems is Exchanges of Earth & Sky (Fish Drum, 2006). His major collection, Red Car Goes By: Selected Poems 1955-2000, was published by Tuumba Press in 2001. Other volumes include Little Grand Island, Arguing with Something Plato Said, 8-Ball and Entering the City. His work has been published in countless magazines and anthologies in the United States and abroad. His essays on teaching and anthologies of children's poetry appear in Moving Windows and Poetry Everywhere. He has produced two CD's of original work performed in collaboration with musician/composer Ken Bernstein and been awarded two NEA fellowships. He received his MA in English from the University of Colorado, and teaches courses in eco-literature and outreach teacher-training.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


The Old Woods
       (for Gerard Swartz and Bill Koehl)


I have read deep thoughts and exalted hearts'-pourings written,
I have seen rare knobs of our nature breaking through the skin,
I have understood the numb wonders of numbers, chemical fluids
                               and constructed objects,
I have eaten frogs'-legs and prune whip,
Have sat entranced at banquet eloquence,
And I have been shipped on the tense relentless rails of involvement;

Oh I have lived! but more
Than all these I want
To walk in the old woods,
To watch them grow from was to will be and will be to was,
Dirty-white cluttered with black in winter,
Rank, green and stinging in spring
And brown and rattly in summer
And in fall.
I am a little sick, I am time-sick, youth-sick
For the old woods.
They maroon me, imprison me, surface ever again like recurring isles
                              in the sea of my mind,
Admit no rival.
Muck, stillness, wounds and rashes from weeds, brown stench of
        air and be seen.
It will be better to dream a little in the old woods
Than to wander and sing in the high gold of Heaven; yes,
The old woods, the quiet wild-colored wet and dry smell and hum and
         wearing of the woods like an old worn coat
Axe in my poor life's blood; well I know
The old woods.


GOING TO THE OLD PINAKOTHEK
                ('62 looking at '57)

It is Sunday
              here in Gabelsbergerstrasse; the
                                             Sunday-heavy air
         is weighted to opacity
         with many-petalled flowerings of bell,
with summer river flow of Semmelknödel smell,
            stately a sublimated glacier
      the gray old dominoes of facing
                                etched-liver-cheese
                               buildings
                               never bowing perfect and stiff
terror-frozen cherubs
                  springing
      stillborn wisdoms from their foreheads
Sober citizens, now
well-wrapped
    good rat-gray cloth abundant cut do not violate the
        air Grüss' Gott! Grüss' Gott! in our speck of a room
    in Pirmin

        Arnold's cream-colored overcellular
           apartment hotel, Traudl lowers
           her roly-poly dumplingheavy self
           onto the doubling bed, lets
           flesh slide-to over the
           giant violent blue
            eyes and
                         naps.
                             American I
do not Bang Around but stealthily
    slip,
Indian-fashion, out, bound
for the Old Pinakothek.
first through the dusty storage
hut arcade twenty
     meters to the street and then
     a rightwards mingling with the green and gray / abundant cut
         well-fueléd citizens. I think few
              are thinking
              of the wild Wolf-Fountain caught
              in igneous ecstasy in that dwarfed quarter
              shadowed by the World Famous ochre Hofbräuhaus, I pass
                  the zig-zag Richard-Wagner-Strasse,
                   emptied upon by
                  the butt end of an old museum, and approach a
                      gaudy little cube the yellow Toto-Lotto
                         stand, see far up
                           right
                                  Königsplatz
an artificial desert of checker-state concrete, often
often have I walked
it happy in tessellation
to think of
      rollerskating.
           Almost out of sight
                  a recent restaurant I haven't
      been inside since it was first
      sinking its gray
      teeth in the ground and we all
      gathered round the big black pot
      dangling from the
      crane and threw half-frozen dirt in it the livelong day. I
      worked like a super-demon there, for America, to demonstrate
      we are not supermarket
      jelly donuts, swinging
      my heaped shovel in swanny arcs
      up into that flat
      female air till rain started, side
      by side with those merry
      open-handed close-grained dogs of Germans: brawn, mind,
      tomato sauce, hypochondria
      crammed in boxes.
      I liked them and we would
      drink black beer together and cut
      bread and sausage in little pieces together
in the rough hut until it
let up.
      At first, in the months,
      I worked farther out,
      under the sky,
      in the flat outskirts, sun
      and open sky, Lebensraum,
      in abundant sun,
      grass and dirt, worked
       with dean dirt, wood,
      sand, big bricks
      crumbly in their broken corners
      and wunderbar cement, shapeless
      grapey gray owlballs and textural streams skidding down
      the chute, pearling me with forth-flung
      flecks and double-dips, driving
      me wild with its dusty, oily smell. Day
      after day I put half-Nelsons
      on trapezohedral iron
      cans swung me by the crane
      man, merry Eiffel-tower-nerve,
      and after every curling-in-the-can
      of avalanching curds like cones of frozen
      elephant custard among
      the bricks and sticks weariness and omniscient dust looked
      down the beaten day road and
         out the gate
             at a lovely lone
                  house
      seen far away through the mist
      on the yellow fields,
      a gray and yellow house, an
      illustration
      from the past, with warm chimney, green
      poplars touching its rough walls
      and a thick old roof
      that nearly reached the ground. I never
           tired of watching it, never
           went close to it. Soon
                             we entered the cloying months of
                             wet and winter.
                             Albrecht and I scraped the
                             slaughterhouse's outside walls,
                              jealous of the ritual
                             warmth within. I dealt
                             with plaster, had a poor hand in
                             great warts of rubble, carried
                             "birds," was kept alive by tubs
                             of cold intestines and
                             by fairy cow membranes and
                             wet floors, my wet freezing
                              brain whitmanized by the outbreaks
                             of inner fumes, the
This true smells.
      is all gone
                    in a glance
      as I pass the
           Toto-Lotto stand, begin
                                   to march
              the catwalk stretch of sidewalk
              sandwiched between the street and this here now
              automatic Moorish motor-warren of cold
                  stone crust and
                   machines
                             (seen
      in chemical light through
                    sugary cellar windows): the
Technische Hochschule
         with its hundredfold mummified Muslim student body
    Luisenstrasse
        dwindles and sways
           in my wake among the
               sober Sunday-heavy citizens
                   Grüss' Gott! Grüss' Gott! and at last
        the corner breaks
    sudden
        green lawns
                lie in the eye, excessive
                the massive centered structure
                                           shrunken and distant
IT IS THE PINAKOTHEK
    with sunken fundaments: Across
the street half-done
    construction poses snap-photo-like
                          till Monday
             far behind, above, a looming silhouette
             the twin stalked breasts of Frauenkirche one
        a meter higher than the other aspire
    to some sucking mouth in the clouds and
    down on down on down

    to thirty
    scattered blue-and-white cubicles, pigeonholed in blocks, outposts
    of Wäscherei Leopold. I too am
    an outpost of Wäscherei Leopold; my battered blue-and-white
    truck and I, like Rocky Mountain fur trappers among
    the warm music-soaked stones
    of Munich, bring
    morning wagonsful of dirty clothes, ticketed, tightly
knotted in bunches by customer,
    to the headquarters chaos half-hidden on Innere-Wiener-Strasse.
    There Leopold
    is Sultan; there
    his throngs of lump-jawed women, all
    thickness and quick replies, scrabble in
    the wash, no arms windmilling more
    than Leopold's: his hatchet beak
    half-buried in grayface cheese, long hair
    flying loose as he digs
    into lawns of crumpled fatigues, juggles
    tattle-tale blizzards of pillowslips, sifts socks
    and shit-in shorts like rubles
    through his fingers, Leopold
    chicken-breast, wise papa Leopold
    Poszonyi. How
    we battled (I think), he
    and I, mustered resources, gave Iroquois-proud
    stares, he
    in his cap and glittering eye, I in milk-fed frame,
    making my contract, he and I, 0 deadly sport
    to me (passage money), a deadly sport
    to him like the pumping of the heart. Do they ask
    Where the great men are today?
    They are in the laundry. Leopold
    is. And when Judgment shatters
    ridden air he will
    still
         be grimacing, shouting, gesturing,
             seducing all loose
               help, constructing
                  hutch appendages
                     from nothing stuffed up
                  rusty machines, nonsmoking
               nondrinking in that tiny room,
            sinking
         deeper into debt, weeping
            and emptying pockets
                for cripples and for
            Israel, flashing
         brass hexahedral fire from his
    pickled eyes, Leopold the
        Magnificent, haggling,
           dirtying his suit
                 and ignoring Western civilization to the end;

                           I hurry
to escape more cold drizzle and join
the sober overcoated army pressing
inside the Pinakothek
Grüss' Gott!
    A thick blue guard
is stiffly there. Behind his back
    are stocked the old rebellious bows of paint (Yesterday
    I enjoyed complete nearly ritual animal
    relief eating
    Berliner, Weissen Pressack, Hartwurst, Schwarzbrot und
    saute Gurken after the Saturday deliveries
    with rolled cigarettes, black beer and a
    big-boned butter-and-blood Frau with soft bitter mouth,
mine). I am upright
          among the
              Renaissance now slowly, small blue
                 sight filled
                     until the last of all.


    SPRING'S FIRST DAY ODE

Cetus-white flakes of hoar still are sticking to my back
like dying leeches, and the aged
strata of flesh
rippled to numb
friction by dregs of Hudsonian
wind. Shoulder-blade armor, slabs
of the ass, lock around
shaking armadillo
candy.

And the rolling frontal plane of yellowy broth
tolerates portals; curly
filaments shine
sour green. Chameleon land
clambers over thinness, then climbing fire kindles
the pale twins cradled
in old brown wrinkles
bright.

A cardinal,
crested and lipstick-red,
whipcracks dusty tail
through myriad uccello midget emerald bulbs and
flames out in rigid labyrinths. I'm
strolling home from the slow mill, where oily
brass, being rolled, becoming
hard and thin,
still sways in cold
eroticism round a
filthy whirling wooden stand, sublimating
light, wan yellow
in the brightly dirty
workshop.

Leaning leaning, close against the watery
brown spring, to view elegant
folded miniatures, pale green, each a hyperdelicate
surprise, a future
jungle poppy, corn shock and dying ox.
In the kitchen sunlight beats
great heat through the rough
glass pane.

Chills
and fever fill me
drinking fall-brown beaver
coffee; the Orffian starlings spangling the house
with black recite rockhopes.

Loved to throw snowballs at telephone poles,
red network whipped to brisk
in the brass-pale sun's
distant slant. Now
the recent snow is only mold
scarcely met; an instant of desert's extant.
Wet in the pond lies
a soft gray ghost
of ice.

One brilliant scab, crushed silver, dwindles out
lowering motion, winterborn
cascades liquefy
some hard plans. A
feathery crow stirs black
in white in backward woods flapping and caws
with brittle peapod jaws
the shaking out of
spring.

Lolling
undefined in
dining-rooms and baths.
Out the windows water leaves the inward-melting
shell; the soil per
ches on a branch,
screeches.

sick of that
yellow egg
my ugly Illinois mind
hate, blue animal
insect fog
cranach

poverty

hours later
mephisto black furniture
red rascally
gorgonzola

the pillow

lying there
partially crunched, magnificent
its withdrawal from color
blackish gold
the only
ominous
thing, in all this homey light
pure green
of the leaves coming from a wine bottle

every time I drive my bicycle through town
colors I see how breughel is
an accurate hard-on

20 after midnight sitting
naked finishing up the wine legs
crossed I've hauled up
pecker and balls for comfort
see the skin over one ball pulled shiny
as glass peachbrown
laced with perfect veins like
wild birds' eggs
I used to
find
in the Illinois woods

Table of Contents

Early Poems (1955-1964)
The Old Woods29
GOING TO THE OLD PINAKOTHEK31
SPRING'S FIRST DAY ODE38
"sick of that"41
"20 after midnight sitting"42
BIRD PROBLEMS43
AFTER AUTOMOTIVE PROBLEMS44
WHAT THE ZEBRA SAID45
DAWN COFFEE A DAY46
BAUCH47
from APRIL, FIRST HALF51
"Queen quince quetzal"54
from Wet (1967)
FEBRUARY57
NEAR58
PRAGMATISM IX59
"the try"61
7 triplets62
RIVERTREE # 164
from 13 Poems ("woman" and "suonberd")65
BRAG, 196766
RIVERTREE 1268
from Blue Heron & IBC (1972)
blue heron71
PICNIC96
"taking it"98
"human love song"99
"in the comfortable green chair,100
facing the rest of the place"
(whites101
"bad nerves"102
advantages103
"face"105
(Komarnicky106
"up the mountain"107
"the dry stiff weed"110
"as we left 667 North St. today"112
from Ice (1974)
"the cherry tree is full of worms"115
"too white & still"119
"you sit down by the fire & wait120
alan bergeson121
"the point a good run goes off"123
O OUR CEILING REVEALING STRIPES124
20% white port125
"once again by the waters of left hand creek"126
43 phone book names, Louisville, Colorado127
ITALIAN BAR IN TRIPOLI, 1955129
from Squirrel Tails (1976)
"it is so much fun this summer," 133
SILVER THINKING, and "balanced off the map"134
"I wish" and "my heart is high,"
"this is the great poem I've been leading up to,
" and "the most awful thing is the best"
from Little Grand Island (1977)
"in Parkers Korner Bar —"139
"today it was cool as I walked to work"140
part of a trip142
(poem with mara)151
"our supper done, we wander, to delight us"153
Rubaiyat Quatrain on Christmas and "Oh red tail"154
"I'm back in the Korner Bar?155
reflections in a golden eye158
BALD EAGLE COUNT159
PHONE NUMBER166
"Albrecht Dürer war ein' Schmierer!"168
"all day we drove on"169
little report of the day172
(poem with Reed Bye)175
Exchanges of Earth and Sky and Other Poems (1967-1987)
1/2 eaten W179
from WORKDAY180
from Exchanges of Earth and Sky185
PUFFIN
OYSTER-CATCHER
BALTIMORE ORIOLE
INDIGO BUNTING
MOCKINGBIRD
BROWN THRASHER
CHICKADEE
BLUEBIRD & MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD
SONNET FOR ALICE N199
Seashell Hair from Mars200
THE DISCOVERY OF MOURNING DOVE MEADOW201
Many Jennies203
DECEMBER205
from The Fox (1981)
john moulder wins at poker209
SATURDAY BLUES210
Sidonie213
THE FOX215
"my love is like a hard, hard ship"217
BACKYARD POEMS218
le spectre de la rose221
The Room222
instructing the sun (with Chris Collom)226
poem227
little horrors228
"the bird does not sing to"230
GOOD FRIDAY231
SPIRIT OF THE BEES233
UGLY JACK236
Going Downtown to Buy Some Pills239
dead birds241
"you can barely see a muskrat"242
9 Solitaire Stanzas243
blow the flame out in rhythm245
wolverine246
RUDDY DUCK248
THURSDAY WORK NOTES249
from Arguing With Something Plato Said (1990)
A PREFACE TO SURROUNDINGS257
"dirt road"264
EISENHOWER TUNNEL265
PASSAGE266
SIMILITUDE278
from A DAY'S OBSERVATIONS279
ARGUING WITH SOMETHING PLATO SAID286
PANDORIC BRAIN292
ECOLOGY301
LETTER WITH UPPED PARAMETER302
Sonnet (NATURE ...)304
from 8-Ball (1992)
THE ORIGIN OF CIVILIZATION307
snap shots309
solo pool, Mi Lady, SoHo310
Chant311
BROADWAY CHARLIE'S312
8-Ball Instructions Sonnet313
inside story314
from What a Strange Way of Being Dead (1995)
JAY GOULD (ALIVE AGAIN) BUYS UP BIOLOGY317
from SEE SEE RIDER336
from The Task (1996)
HOBACK HAIBUN349
INDEFINITE ARTICLE356
DOMESTIKU357
DIDACTIKU358
WHY I WAS LATE FOR WORK359
from SCARFACE HAIKU360
GUATE SENRYU '90361
ON THE COLUMBUS QUINCENTENARY 1992363
EARTH DAY- COOL COLORADO — 1993364
from THE TASK365
from Calluses of Poetry (1996)
Mousedeath373
Birds of El Vado, Summer375
from Entering the City (1997)
smoking late379
sunlight filters in383
truth384
The Miracle of Talk388
Father Demo Square389
rubs his chin393
HEAVY ON THE ZILCH395
sophisticated prose397
no word398
rhythm399
BUS TO NEW YORK CITY400
sneezy snatcher405
equals406
"hospital room, hospital room"407
MEMORY409
waiting for the phone man411
NIGHTMARE TURQUOISE I413
"Simplistic heart, support"414
from Dog Sonnets (1998)
12-24-94 ("Crazy writings on the mottled, 419
lighted sky")
12-28-94 ("Explicit orgone taut420
sap hurdle posh")
12-31-94 ("Hello, big snow and strange,421
nine-string guitar")
1-3-95 ("O life is just a422
verbal marsh without")
1-8-95 ("Black temper. Lightening sky423
The Sunday papers")
1-16-95 loop-de-loop424
1-23-95 ("How many sonnets425
ruminate on love?")
1-29-95 ("Now snow is heaped on every twig. 426
A finch")
2-23-95 Plath Video427
4-30-95 ("'Avant-garde Final chalked 428
on board — no more!")
6-1-95 ("... But suddenly it's summer.")429
6-6-95 ("We have bulk soap available at count-")430
6-9-95 ("The white-crowned431
sparrow's whistle slowly")
July 1995 ("no ideas but 432
in things no")
7-23-95 ("R. Crumb arises 433
from a piece of paper")
7-29-95 Local Names Poem for Mom's 90th at Jane's434
9-6-95 free verse435
9-21-95 ("WOKE up this morning, avalanches of")436
from Polemics: "This Morning's Revolution" (1998)
RECIPE FOR A MOUSE439
sestina (6-1-87)441
this morning's revolution442
LECTURE444
in the450
A Few Remarks at Little Red Rocks451
from Parties (1995-1998)
PARTIES455
from Cold Instant Blows Away (1997-1998) movie465
BLONDIN467
PROZESS468
DOGS470
SPAM471
MY FAULTS472
THANKSGIVING SONNET473
factory crumb474
INTRODUCTION TO BOOK ON GETTING POETIC WRITING INTO
SCHOOLS475
THE LOGIC OF DUGOUT DICK477
OIL481
"sardou ere pin"483
TITTLE485
QUINTANA ROO BEACH, 6 A.M486
"I wanted to go490
inside the word
'nature' Made myself"
4-21-96 ("I wonder492
what will flash
the squares tonight")
5-13-96 MY CAR493
5-29-96 at "Big O" Tires494
8-16-96("LET'S go! we cried, 495
for Nature's orange portals")
from Sunflower (2000)
"One night, as it happened,499
I opened a book and read "
from Slices (1998) and Book of Extremes (ongoing) Slices503
HOLDING TRUTH DOWN
Spare
SHORT LIFE
ASTERISK
JACQUES DERRIDA / Writing and Difference
POEM FOR CERTAIN PEOPLE
LOVE POEM (FOR JENNY)
Extremes513
Part v — duck
the leap from skill to
philosophy

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