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Poem for Archie

“You have your identity when you find out,
not what you can keep your mind on,
but what you can't keep your mind off.”
(A. R. Ammons)

by David S. Warren

In nineteen sixty four, after a year in Europe during which I had decided to be a writer, I returned to Cornell and signed up for the first of many “Creative Writing” classes. Because the section taught by the dynamic and popular Steve Katz was all filled up, I was assigned to the new guy that year: A.R. Ammons, whose class met over in the Industrial and Labor Relations building, because the regular English faculty class-rooms were in use by the old regulars at that hour, and probably not just because until the year before, he had been an executive in an industrial glass manufacturing business, nor was it because he had started out a dirt-poor farm boy from the South, and surely not because he was a Navy Vet.

Archie (and I can’t remember the last time I heard any one call him anything but Archie) was without a bit of pretention, posing, or elevated bullshit about him. He looked at us all around the table with the wide open curiosity of the Bachelor of Biology that he was: What sort of beings are these?

One day about fifteen minutes into our off-quad class meeting over in the ILR building, Steve Katz (the popular young novelist mentioned above) showed up with his own class, carrying a bunch of landscaping flowers he had picked on the way, having decided because of the Indian Summer weather, that his class should group-write a poem and take it to Archie’s class.

So they did: Steve read the poem (which I wish I could remember) but I do recall that Archie glowed with what seemed to be more delight than embarrassment.

Delighted, open, and accessible was Archie. During his general office hours, he kept the door open and sat there looking out for you.

My first scheduled office meeting with Archie came after I had presented a story about an ex G.I. I had met on the Greek island Hydra, where he made poems writing with syrup and other food products on paper that he then baked in the oven, proposing to make edible poetry, although as it came out the oven, it was not even readable. At the end of the story, morbidly obsessed, the poet-artist is staring at some murky flotsam in the Hydra harbor, and he fails to notice a Butterfly as it passes over him and rises above it all.

It was only a damn Symbolic butterfly, and he knew it. I could do better now but Archie seemed only kind and interested. As David Rollow reports him saying, the only kind off criticism he cared for was praise.

Encouraged, I told him I had been thinking that I might write my next story in the third person: like “you went down to the river, and there you saw a …..whatever….and you “ and so on, you this and you that..

Archie looked at me in that slightly anxious or worried way you see in this photo Dede Hatch took of him, and he said “Oh, I hope not.”

Enough said. I never pulled that cheap trick.

I have tried many a silly device since, I’m sure, and even Archie could be radical with his literary devices - for instance, writing a single extended poem on a narrow strip of adding machine tape, making good tight sense though, and later producing thousands of poems long and short, all good, gooder, or goodest, until he became what many critics considered to be the greatest living American poet, and certainly the greatest poet you maybe never even heard of.

He died when he was seventy something, about my age now, and not a lot changed since our office chats. The last few times I saw him, well after his retirement, he was standing in the central section of the Ithaca farmers-market as he often did on Saturday mornings, just in case anyone happened to stop by, and no doubt his ghost does stop by to stand on that spot for a while. It’s just a dirt floor, but there has to be one of those Ithaca Stars there for Archie.

And now all his poems have been collected and published together in two thick volumes which you may never get all the way through, but they all deserve the deep attention that David Rollow offers in his review here. It comes with a few small, but whole, entire, unabridged Archie poems.

Plain spoken, yet fully detailed and without phony butterflies.


(You may view the complete print version here)
(Click to Purchase as a print magazine
• David S. Warren -
Editor's Notes

• Georgia E. Warren -
The Test

• Sue Ryn -
I Never Imagined This

• Mary Gilliland -
Sky Dancer

• David S. Warren -
Poem to Archie

• Don Brennan -
Take Me To the River

• Peter Fortunato -
Surreal Really

• Peter Wetherbee -
Sinister Ballad of a
Middle-Aged Man

David S.Warren -
We are Nuts

• Rhian Ellis -

• Garriel Orgrease -
Evening Out

• Daniel Lovell -
One for Miriam

• Nancy Viera Couto -
Margarida, Jose,
and the Queen

• David Rollow -
Your Stuff

• Franklin Crawford -
When I Have Thoughts
That I May Cease to Pee

• David Rollow -
Review: A. R. Ammons
Complete Poems

• Chris MacCormack -
Packages (an excerpt)

Evening Out

by Gabrial Orgrease

The running joke had become that I was being passed off as Billy Gibbons from Zee Zee Top. I wandered the streets of the French Quarter with family and friends of family. Whenever anyone of the group shouted, “Billy Gibbons, everyone, Billy Gibbons!” I was to go “Har har har.” (go to story)

When I Have Thoughts That I May Cease to Pee

by Franklin Crawford

My brain, which I am very attached to even though we’ve never met, is doomed to liquefy and bubble out of my ears, nose and mouth, shortly after I am as dead as the DNC.
It’s not the most pleasant thought my mind ever conjured, given that I suspect my brain doesn’t like to imagine its post-mortem condition any more than whatever this self – this symbiont with whom I share my weathered hide – wishes to dwell upon. (go to story)


The Test

by Georgia E. Warren

As soon as I got back to my dorm room I remembered. There was no textbook, we were supposed to research the famous artwork of Milan. The test was to identify and discuss the Italian Renaissance art was located in Milan. It was late. The library was closed. I decided I should go to bed and try to get to the library before class.

But I was exhausted: I sat on my bed ready to take my shoes off and fell asleep in my clothes.

Within a minute a very nice Catholic Nun shook my shoulder and told me I should not sleep in the pews of the sanctuary. I told her the problem about my class. I did not tell her it was thousands of miles away
(go to article)________________________

Reiki: Just The Facts

"Take Me To The River"

by Don Brennan

“Whoa! Where did you come from?’’ I set it down on the picnic table as fragments of memories washed over me. It was an old friend that I had found as a child, on a family vacation, somewhere one summer. Even though it was still covered with bits of soil, it was easy to see that it was loaded with interesting minerals. “I’m going to have to hose you off.”
The next two mornings, I spent more time staring at the stone than reading my book. The words were creating images not from The Celestine Prophecy, but from the day this stone first came into my life.

I had glimpses of it sparkling
in a shallow pool of water at
the bottom of a riverbed.
(go to article)



Chris MacCormack
excerpt from
Packages (visit)

by David Rollow

The Muse came knocking at the writer’s window on a night of wild weather. Her skin seen through the windowpanes was luminous and pale, except for her flushed cheeks. Her green eyes glistened. Never had she looked more beautiful. Gladdened by this unexpected visit--for the page lay empty on his table and the pen lay untouched by the page--the writer stood and unlocked the window, his heart surging against his ribs as if they, too, somehow, were to be unlocked and his heart set free. (go to story)


by Mary Gilliland

Myth is longing. I lose myself in myth. When I would re-read the texts, or re-imagine them, myth led me out of family problems I could do nothing about. It contextualized the martyred strivings of Roman Catholic indoctrination. (excerpt, go to full story)


Margarida, José, and the Queen

by by Nancy Vieira Couto

Margarida saw the Queen in that summer of 1901 when all the days were damp and filled with the smell of salt. She couldn’t see the future through the fog, but she imagined machines, money, and motion, a city crammed with tenement houses and streetcars. She was fourteen years old. She and her mother, Maria Julia, had just arrived in Ponta Delgada, having said good-bye forever to aunts, uncles, cousins and friends, the living and the dead.
(go to story)

The focus of our next Metaphysical Times will be "Memory." (see full size)

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