Buddy Cushman Art

engaging stories of hope and joy


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These Here Thoughts Today

My father – Winston H. Cushman – died early in January 1980. In Arizona. He was 68 years old. During these succeeding 38 years this question has come to, or for, me every so often – Will I live longer than 68? Longer than my Dad? Or will that be my due date too? Today I have the answer.

Dictation_from_the_B_Cover_for_Kindle

 

It was 1949 in New Bedford, MA, when I came on the scene. Seven years later I rolled, part-way through the year, into second grade at the Pilgrim Elementary School in Wareham — my hometown. I have a poem about Allen Ginsberg and me and second grade in my first published book of poetry, “Minor Revelations”.

This one.

 

 

 

 

 

Second Grade

Massachusetts

Why wasn’t I reading Allen Ginsberg in 1956 when he was writing “America”

and I was in second grade,

Elementary, a pilgrim at Pilgrim?

Not yet reading Weekly Reader

Not yet swooning over Mary Linda

Not yet floating like a butterfly and stinging like a marshmallow

Out on recess playground

Not yet a Red Sox advocate (it’s coming) and sufferer (soon)

Not yet a political giant

Not yet crossing the race barrier

Not yet finding my howl

Not yet bunting magic bunts with my magic little league lumber

(there’s gold in them thar trees)

Not yet a bedroom boss, a bedroom baby,

a bedroom blue boy

Not yet so perpetually confused about the things I’m sure of.

I’m sure Allen would have helped,

Garden State fairy angel,

With all of my life’s poetry,

Held my metaphorical hand on endless walks with bigger daydreams

and a bigger heart.

Why’d I have to wait til now?

Massachusetts?

 

It’s a good question. About the waiting. My first sponsor — Dick M. — always told me, when I came to him moaning about this or that, he’d say, “You’re right where you’re supposed to be.”  I can’t say I always appreciated those words as an answer, but as I’ve aged I’ve come to believe more in possibilities. I guess I started getting A.G. and poetry in general when I was supposed to. Anyway, I turned 69 today and I’ve just published poetry book number two – “Dictation from the Backyard” — and I’ve managed to hang around a little longer than my Dad now, which feels more like obligation than anything else.

Expect poetry from me going forward.

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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.