Buddy Cushman Art

engaging stories of hope and joy


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Poems and Love Letters – Volume 1

I’ve stopped watching the news. About four da037 coffee cupys ago. No news websites on-line, no TV news, none on the phone. I’ve stopped for two reasons — nearly all the news is bad these days, truly bad. And nearly everyone having a problem with that bad news is out to lunch, shockingly clueless, like, as in wicked duh. La La Land.

And speaking of which, in my still too often typically contempt prior to investigation mode of assessment, I had vowed never to watch the movie La La Land, figuring ahead of time it was gonna be some sappy dancy singy slop of a film, a dull time-waster, so was a little discomforted to hear it was to be the visual menu  of the night back in early December when my wife and I were visiting her parents in San Diego. In fact, what happened was my in-laws gave up on it pretty darn quick, so Susan and I went into another room with a smaller TV and watched the rest of it, then a couple of weeks later watched it in HD on our slightly larger TV back in Oregon, and now it ranks somewhere in my top 10 of all-time greatest movies.

Have you see it? Have you seen this scene?  www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrgXegJiTq4

“A bit of madness is key.”

This is from William Carlos William’s “Spring and All” “In the composition, the artist does exactly what every eye must do with life, fix the particular with the universality of his own personality — Taught by the largeness of his imagination to feel every form which he sees moving in himself, he must prove the truth of this by expression.”

Speaking of San Diego, these lines are from my poem “San Diego Say So”:

“Blossoming blooms and magic burst from every day,

permission for joy.

The way they run Hodad’s in OB.

One for all, Share the wealth,

here’s looking out for you.

These pier dreams

I’ll wish them to life when I find a way.”

I miss my boys — Gavin in Oakland, Keith in Oklahoma, Billy in Tortuguerro.  I miss

San Diego.

 

 

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Winding Down and Up

This notebook is winding down in terms of filling up. It’s usefulness that is. An iron vessel of haphazard recordings. From somewhere in my head. Do things truly improve with age?

 

Guitars I gu20160127_144054ess, if solid wood. Wine? Gave it up back in the 80s. How many notebooks have been filled and here’s a better question — where are they now? Is something lost in the transcription from mind to lined paper? Or gained? Beats me. I just hold the pen. I walk down into the pitch-black cellar, I reach for the horseshoe nailed to the archway, any feel might bring me luck. I’m already lucky I’m still here, another day of these morning pages. No white chalk outline yet. My next word ought to be obligation. If I’m still here, even in the dark, if I’ve fingered the lucky horseshoe one more day, I’ve got to owe something. I mean it’s been gravy through the late 20s — mine — I mean how many times can you throw up sound asleep, every extra day like I step into a vehicle and drive through the city streets passing out presents. Ho ho ho. Glad to report in this notebook. I’ve never been all just a taker.

 

Einstein said we serve others, is what we do. Our purpose here. Glad I’ve gone along for the ride. I wish I’d learned better words along the way, and seen more, even in pitch-black basements, who knows, maybe especially there. I guess I’m okay in sunlight. I like to read poetry, now, before I come to these notebook pages. Stir all the stuff in a bowl. It’s really good when I can forget — even for the extended moment — who I am, let someone else carry that baggage for a while. My obligation, maybe the only one I’ve got, is to show up here and write. We always use to say suit up and show up. So, it’s something like that.


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The Way of a Poem

I finished a poem last week, it was seven pages long. I’d typed it in one long paragraph from notes and lines of possible poetry in a notebook and my Morning Pages over the previous week when I was on my way to and then in San Diego

SD Air 2with my wife Susan, visiting her parents.

I’d typed the long paragraph late in the afternoon, a clear cold day with an east wind howling outside our Portland windows, and before going up the basement stairs to handle dinner I’d begun my process of hitting the “Enter” key on the keyboard to create a new line — the next line — when it felt poetically proper to do so. I got maybe a quarter of the way through my lengthy mess. During and after dinner my wife Susan and I watched four episodes of NYPD Blue Season 11, though I nodded out here and there during the last 42 minutes. So when Susan was heading up to bed (and one of my most favorite things is to get into bed while she’s still awake and look at her in the dark and giggle) I truly meant it when I said I was too tired to do anymore work on the poem and was simply going to turn off the computer.

I came back up the basement stairs out of a trance 45 minutes later, then cut up and ate my mandatory (reflux) before bed every evening apple while watching “All the President’s Men” on HBO — it feeling kind of relevant these days — and so I found myself quietly slipping into bed in the dark beside my now long-dreaming wife at 11:19. One opportunity missed — and I don’t take that lightly — and another seized — ditto.

The poem is “San Diego Say So” and the plan is for all seven pages of it to appear within the next volume of poetry I publish sometime in early 2018 (on the cheerful assumption we’re all still here).

 

For show and tell purposes — and maybe serving as a teaser —  within a short section of the poem, this became this:

This

“We’ll pass the San Diego airport which I like, the one runway, the in-bound planes approach in wide arc out over the County, in fact fly just over the in-laws home, descend in a straight line 13 miles they pass so low, eventually, over India Street (in Little Italy) San Diegans can look into oblong plane windows at the wide-eyed expressions of young boys and their parents reaching for smart phones. I’m not a native here, but I’ve been on the street and seen those faces. And, in the air, been seen as one.”

Became This

We’ll pass the San Diego airport

Which I like,

The one runway.

The inbound planes approach in wide arc

Out over the County, in fact

Fly just over the in-laws home,

Descend in a straight line

13 miles.

They pass so low, eventually, over India Street

(In Little Italy)

San Diegans can look into oblong

Plane windows

At the wide-eyed expressions of young boys

And their parents reaching for smart phones.SD Air 1

I’m not a native here, but

I’ve been on the street

and seen those faces.

And,

In the air,

Been seen as one.


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Poems of the Week 2

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“There are some things we do simply because the doing is a success.” — Nikki Giovanni

 

From Federico Garcia Lorca:

 

“Lola

sings saetas

The little bullfighters

circle around her

and the little barber, from his doorway,

follows the rhythms

with his head.

Between the sweet basil

and the mint,

Lola sings

saetas.

That same Lola

who looked so long

at herself in the pool.”

 

and From me:

 

“Our baseball, tag, and beyond-touch football

lost in summer,

Leaf-pile snugglers and hiders

not so long ago.

Today we are Eskimos

Today this corner of Lowell is white

and begs for our attention

which we have come to freely give.

(Like Lowell’s Kerouac kid.)

We roll, we lunge, we duck

balls of snow,

here comes Jack Frost to model

for the round white guy.

My sons and I at play.”

 

Lorca’s “Balcony” and from my Minor Revelations, “I Have a Painting.”

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Back In My Little Town

Buddy Cushman Art

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Once upon a time, far away and long ago, I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts named Wareham. Hard by the Buzzards Bay inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, and no doubt a clone of sorts from Wareham, England, itself hard by Poole Harbour and its larger Atlantic mother. The “Gateway to Cape Cod”, that’s what it was called at times, that’s what the sign said out on Route 28 by the Chamber of Commerce. Situated just before the Bourne Bridge crossing over to The Cape, at the confluence of the Cape Cod Canal and Buzzards Bay.

I was lucky to have grown up there, for many reasons. It was a gentle place, mostly, dotted with beach communities and summer homes and summer days, Cape Verdean enclaves and culture, pine forests, and luscious ponds carved out by retreating ice-age glaciers. In the winter we skated those ponds, pushed against…

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Poems of the Week

Introducing a new feature on my Blog, what with me being a poet and all now. Beginning today, once a week, I’ll feature a poem I love from another poet, and one of my own.

 

For today – to begin – I first offer a take on poetry from the poet Mina Loy:

“Poetry is prose bewitched, a music made of visual thoughts. The sound of an idea.”

 

And from me today:

I turn the bed around

and awake alone.

Awash in rainbows scattered

through a plum of glass —

dangling —

in the south window.

Our bedroom is a sacred place

with you or alone

Here, in a factory

of manufactured dreams.

Where all the workers

are night faeries. 

 


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To Go Where No Buddy Has Gone Before

If the question is – “Why a book of poetry?”

The answer, (honestly), is – “Beats me.”

I do not remember writing the first poem. It was just there. Another followed, then another. Over a short period of time – no moSusan holding Minorre than 10 days – someone who’s never had much of an inclination toward or appreciation of the written poem fell down the rabbit hole and all the way in. Quickly I found myself entirely devoted to poetry. It began to fall out, every morning after sitting meditation and with coffee in the recliner. In fact, many of the poems to be found in my first book of poetry – “Minor  Revelations” – showed up in a flash sitting in the recliner.

I have always been a Shakespeare fan, a big one. Beyond that, no friend of poetry. In fact, a couple of years ago a friend named Kate, someone with whom I’d worked years earlier in a Portland foster care program, got the idea to bring poetry into Portland area juvenile detention centers and groups homes – something she’d been involved with in Seattle – and when asked, I signed up as a volunteer. I went to a number of the poetry planning meetings and brought home the books of poetry written by the kids up in Seattle Kate gave me to read (though I never read them much). After a while, the familiar fog of guilt upon me, I respectfully resigned…..Little did I know.

Today I have a second book of poetry in the works, about a third of the planned way complete. One of the poems in that project is called “Kate, I Didn’t Know”. Kate and I had a cup of tea at the Chinese Garden downtown Sunday morning and I told her about it – my new life as a poet, the second book, the poem with her name. She laughed — with me or maybe at me, who can tell. Probably a little of both. Kate’s always been a fan and supporter of my varied adventures.

My answer, above, to the question “Why a book of poetry?” was “Beats me.” While  the “you got me”, “couldn’t tell ya”, “never woulda thought it”, all those ring true, there’s also a fabulous obsession in which I found myself immersing about a year ago with the literature of “The Beats” – Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso, Hettie Jones, Diane di Prima, Clellon Holmes. Obviously there’s a lot of poetry there and while reading everything Kerouac I began the tiptoe through some of Ginsberg as well. “Howl” for sure. Then others. The point being that it’s possible the Beat poets were reaching out from the 50s and 60s, whispering in my ear – and in my heart – “come along with us, Buddy. It’ll be worth it. It’ll be exciting. It’ll be fun.”

So far it has, a joyride eons beyond anything I considered, never mind hoped for. I’ll talk in more detail –  in my next post – just how that ride has looked as I’ve whizzed along all the road maps and signs of my interwoven life.

Here are the last 19 lines of “Kate, I Wasn’t Ready”:

…..

Though I suspect it was a game,

Always a game.

Call it hide and seek

Where I was

Forever ‘It’

And poetry a better hider.

 

So,

Then,

When Kate took my hand,

Led me to workshops,

Filled my flimsy arms with thin volumes

of the good stuff,

Explained to me as if to a child.

All that time –

All this time –

Poetry giggled

Almost silent,

Hiding behind my favorite tree.

 

Invisible.