Magazine Minds, Confectionary Lives and Cold Souls in Café Society

Dean J. Baker - Poetry, and prose poems

These are the days of holy rage; the nights, of broken thunder. The numberless
specific insanities that pull your mind right under. Total potentiality.
You know, don’t you? Who can’t gain weight, ain’t got no appetite yet bloats enthrall.
Vanishing invisibly, I can’t sleep at night and before evening’s day I am all awake.

Where drunks stumble and lurch; slur my daylight mind in ancient doorways, forever with us. Of course, it’s everyone except you. Fear being another tightrope.
So I shall disappear. The jewels of truth light my way through empty towns, streets.
There are no deals. I left everything behind that would not touch my sunken eyes. In this I am blind, the wounded thief.

Who would be the orphan and limping stepchild, ascribed with insulting logic? Hadn’t I assumed the debt that was once always my badge and refuge? I did not want these signs of genius…

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Traveling Too

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Athens I sat between orange trees
the pedestal statuary from centuries past
frozen in that moment as I am

Wandered streets and bookstores, bathed
in Greek sunlight from a sidewalk
café against the chill of March in Toronto

Read Seferis again for the first time, saw
his and Henry Miller’s steps and Lawrence
Durrell as each walked in Cavafy’s bright

Hungry for spit-roasted beef in souvlaki
from the town square, the populace there
as I spoke Greek aloud wondrous about everything

Taking flight to Corfu after the small trolley
laden with drachmas 2 feet high passed
through Omonia Square towards the bank

The night piers against the waves showing
alien forms of giant rats on patrol the shapes
of small dogs against the Ionian sea

Where I caught a cold turned bronchitis
overnight, touring a motorcycle through villages,
dining on goat with a family before

The next day’s sail to Brindisi, sun soaked
upper deck while below puke swamped washrooms,
slopping between tourist sandals and shoes

Myself immune until Rome where I bathed clean
socks in a sink, but not before night travel
through mountains and Berlin afterwards, wars

Ongoing somewhere in another countryside,
blood and bleached bones, dust swirling hopes
away from the tides of time each swam in

As I walked beside the Tiber, entered the Vatican
alone to stare at Michelangelo’s pride
gold and gems everywhere, Roman polizei

Guarding stores for the rich before the Spanish
steps led me into Keats’ room, and small bed
his poetry on a desk a light against his disappearance

To arrive empty in Paris, becoming myself I
had only guessed undenied
the small change I carried a different evidence

Of crimes enshrined against such discovery
in the lands of fools proclaiming all knowledge
their own beneath the changing skies of Battersea

Camden town, San Luis and Kentucky a shroud
believed sterilized against the giant selves
patiently alive yet none the wiser alone in all times

© Dean Baker

When I was 21 I traveled to Europe for the first time with less than $200 in my pocket,
having written 95% of The Moon Worn Tides https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01L0AB54I
and Soliloquies Of The Horizons https://www.amazon.com/Soliloquies-Horizons-Prose-Poems-2/dp/1537202529 among many other poems & songs, and having traveled across Canada twice and been to Miami alone as well, I was eager to just go….

NEW BOOK – Petty Gods Of Apparent Decline, 121 Pages, ebook here->Petty Gods Of Apparent Decline ebook

Enjoy the book – I treasure the fact that I wrote it; that it can change everything, even if no one keeps up. Arrogant? Or simply almost anonymously grateful – and what if it is true…

‘Poetry that is classic and timeless.’

Vital, intense and uncompromising – singular in clarity, artistry, and authenticity.’

Work which illuminates as it informs – a reviving sense of discovery and perspective.’

NOTHING YOU BELIEVE IS TRUE. Buy the book & be prepared to be offended..


 – http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM

NEW EDITIONS

**Dark Earth – ‘Rabelais and Hieronymus Bosch look out of dark chinks in these poems…’

‘The most unique set of poems I have ever read’

**Silence Louder Than A Train – ‘Highly recommended’ ‘..one would be  hard pressed to do better…’

‘…savagely introspective…’

Dean’s books will someday be required reading

The Poet In Journals – St. Denys Garneau

One of my favorite books from ages ago, The Journal Of St. Denys Garneau which I discovered in a bargain bin at the Coles where Neil Young worked.
I had been frequenting the Champlain bookstore in Toronto, when I first saw a mention of him, picking up books in the European style or French style, uncut pages you had to razor open to read Marie Claire Blais, Anne Hébert(Garneau’s cousin), and others, etc. Which of course led to other readings of Hubert Aquin, Michel Tremblay, etc etc.

All their works were distinguishable from  but inseparable from others such as Marian Engel’s Bear, Miriam Waddington’s poems, Frank Scott’s certainly, or Monique Bosco’s Lot’s Wife.

Favorite because it fit right in with circumstances of thought, countryside and origin (I’d go to read it in solitude in a place near Ottawa, having visited my mother’s birthplace in Campbell’s Bay, Quebec), and the poetic disclosures. The discovery attached to slicing open pages, and translating – since the poems were in French – always felt fresh and new, and I could see what was missed in other translations though John Glassco’s comes closest.

Reminded me that favorites are often due to a time and place, as are poets whose popularity mysteriously decline upon their deaths; similar to the most popular novelists of decades or centuries past whom not many can even recall.

The book lasts for many reasons then, one of which would be the essential self, made bare without being mired in the spectacles which pass for a self these days, through literate and real details as is the case in many of his poems at whatever level they may be taken.

He was as much a denizen of my ‘neighborhood’ of spirits and souls as Shelley, Shakespeare, or reaching back, Archilochus, and Marcus Aurelius.

©Dean Baker

Alden Nowlan – Greatness in Poetry

nowlan_

 

 

 

 

 

Alden Nowlan is one of those poets whom I never got to meet, and always wish I’d been able to do so.

I first saw one of his poems when I was in high school. And as with that poem, his other poems: they always evoke, a ‘yes!,’ about honesty and the truth of things. Always memorable. You’ll find them repeating themselves at the least expected moments.
The poem that first struck me was his ‘Aunt Jane.’

Aunt Jane

Aunt Jane, of whom I dreamed the nights it
thundered,
was dead at ninety, buried at a hundred.
We kept her corpse a decade, hid upstairs,
where it ate porridge, slept and said its prayers.

And every night before I went to bed
they took me in to worship with the dead.
Christ Lord, if I should die before I wake,
I pray thee Lord my body take.

 

©Alden Nowlan

Just to be sitting in your own world and to have 8 lines smack you awake out of the blue, away from your concerns and take you to revelation so quickly, so easily, and with such delight – amazing.

But Alden has many, many poems of the kind that do so – surprising in their humility, strength and understanding. His are the works you could carry in a small book with you and find sustaining every time you looked.
He covers history, patriotism, and more all in a beautiful way.

One other:

Canadian January Night

Ice storm: the hill
a pyramid of black crystal
down which the cars
slide like phosphorescent beetles
while I, walking backwards in obedience
to the wind, am possessed
of the fearful knowledge
my compatriots share
but almost never utter:
this is a country
where a man can die
simply from being
caught outside.

©Alden Nowlan

 

Brilliant work.

And from Alden Nowlan, Selected Poems

A Poem About Miracles

Why don’t records go blank
the instant the singer dies?
Oh, I know there are explanations,
but they don’t convince me.
I’m still surprised
when I hear the dead singing.
As for orchestras,
I expect the instruments
to fall silent one by one
as the musicians succumb
to cancer and heart disease
so that toward the end
I turn on a disc
labelled Götterdämmerung
and all that comes out
is the sound of one sick old man
scraping a shaky bow
across and out-of-tune fiddle.

 

©Alden Nowlan

These poems of Alden’s are a few of the good, and representative of his best. You need the book to even begin to get an awareness of his greatness.
Robert Frost may be more well known, but for me Alden wins the laurels.

© Dean J. Baker

all my books on salehttp://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM

https://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/links-to-my-books-in-print/

The Canadian Authors Meet by F. R. Scott

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Expansive puppets percolate self-unction
Beneath a portrait of the Prince of Wales.
Miss Crotchet’s muse has somehow failed to function,
Yet she’s a poetess. Beaming, she sails

From group to chattering group, with such a dear
Victorian saintliness, as is her fashion,
Greeting the other unknowns with a cheer—
Virgins of sixty who still write of passion.

The air is heavy with Canadian topics,
And Carman, Lampman, Roberts, Campbell, Scott,
Are measured for their faith and philanthropics,
Their zeal for God and King, their earnest thought.

The cakes are sweet, but sweeter is the feeling
That one is mixing with the literati;
It warms the old, and melts the most congealing.
Really, it is a most delightful party.

Shall we go round the mulberry bush, or shall
We gather at the river, or shall we
Appoint a Poet Laureate this fall,
Or shall we have another cup of tea?

O Canada, O Canada, O can
A day go by without new authors springing
To paint the native maple, and to plan
More ways to set the selfsame welkin ringing?

©F.R.Scott

Frank Scott has many fine poems, but this one I think applies not only to Canadian authors…

©Dean J. Baker

My books in print links

The mothership: http://deanjbaker.wordpress.com

My books on sale! https://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/all-print-books-links/