Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Two New Poems

I have been pretty unproductive for some time now. This has partly to do with the arrival of grandchild number 6, with whom --as with the others-- I am besotted. Happily he, like the others, lives within an easy drive.

I also seem to go into lulls shortly after the publication of books, and my twelfth collection, No Doubt the Nameless, was published last month. I suppose a psychologist could make something of that tendency to lapse after a book shows up, but it's not really something that especially troubles me. I used to think, "Uh-oh, I'm all done-- out of material." But I have learned that I seem to revive.

In any case, here are the two new poems.



   A Grandson Sleeps on My Chest

The thread of drool from his lip to my shirt
shows lovely, prismatic, refracting the beams
of this fine warm April sun as I loll on a couch.
Those colors won’t blend with the song
from the Classic Country station I just tuned in.

Hank Williams is lonely, and it damn near kills him.
There’s a dog asleep too, in a circle of light
on the rug, near a pair of rattles, a teething ring,
and a bear that his great grandmother
fabricated years back for this sweet little sleeping child’s father.

Oh I could get going on how that father,
our son, has become such a huge good man
when only yesterday, as the cliché has it,
I held him just this way.
Oh I could get going all right about the absence

of the big-hearted woman who made the bear,
which has twice the bulk of this boy in my arms.
I could fret for the thousandth time that maybe I’ve failed
as man or parent or husband,
but no, I won’t be going that way, or those.

Hank’s midnight train is whining low
While here I hear only a lyrical breathing
and the odd and oddly tuneful infant gurgle.
The scent of the grandson’s crown
wafts up. That’s when all preachments waft up too,

all vanities, worries, to die their sudden deaths.


                   The Long and Short

Betty, as always, was making doughnuts.
Why would she stop, I supposed, even though
Her husband had died two nights before?
The general store would keep buying her stuff.
People loved those doughnuts, plain as they were.

I could tell she was cooking before I knocked
By smelling the heat of her Fry-O-Lator.
I’d known them forever. No storybook marriage,
But she and Dale for the most part got on,
The way old couples usually manage.

Grease-smoke mixed with that wet dog odor
In the woods, which signals we’ll soon get snow.
Two flickers flushed from behind their trailer.
Dale was suddenly gone.  Here then gone.
I pictured his walk, how he reeled like a sailor

After a long-log rolled off a truck
Years back, and turned both femurs to dust.
A three-legged chipmunk ducked under a downed
Dead hemlock. I watched a pigeon slip
Into the loft of their buckling barn.

They felt fitting, these varied signs that boded
Winter. Mind you, I did like Dale,
And would miss him all right. Yet I caught myself,
Surprised and ashamed, in a sort of rehearsal
For Betty of poignant recall and grief,

No matter a small brook cheerfully chimed
A hundred yards off, no matter the field,
Which someone had planted with rye for cover
Through the coming cold, looked green as spring.
Betty called me inside. She was leaning over

Her stove. She smiled and wept at once,
And the tears fell into the bubbling basket,
Each drop hissing and dancing inside.
Life struck me abruptly as both long and short.
They’re lively anyhow!” Betty cried.
 


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Narrative Values, Lyric Poetry

Vermont Public Television has produced a video of a recent talk I gave at the excellent Norwich (VT) Bookstore.

If you are interested, go to http://vermontpbs.org/show/21872/105

Monday, April 4, 2016

Interview

If anyone should be interested, Burlington, Vermont-based author and radio host Shelagh Shapiro interviewed me on her show, Write the Book. She is a sharp mind indeed. As for me, I'm not the one to judge.

http://writethebook.podbean.com/e/sydney-lea-interview-388-22216/

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Inviolable Voice

I seem to be posting pretty sporadically, as I assumed I might once I ended my term as poet laureate. I am not idle, though. My excellent successor s Vermont state poet, Chard deNiord, and I are working on an anthology of Vermont poets, ouyr little state having the most such citizens per capita of any in the nation.

I also recently published my book of mini-essays, "What's the Story? Reflections on a Life Grown Long," available from Green Writers Press. And on the 1st of this month, my twelfth poetry collection, "No Doubt the Nameless," was issued by the terrific Four Way Books of NYC. Here is a link to the Author's Page posted by the staff there:


The ugliness of the current political season deeply disturbs me, and there follow some meditations on one aspect of it, the bashing of immigrants. I am working on a talk that I'll present in Bled, Slovenia come May.




In May, and for the eighth time, I will attend the annual meeting of PEN in Slovenia, the best organized thing of its kind I know. In addition to readings, presenters are asked to address the migrant (and immigrant) crisis that faces the West. As I consider what I’ll say, I find myself reflecting on what strikes me as a disturbing moment in American political history. Here are some reflections.

The citizens of my nation, which I do love, may sometimes fall into the belief that our land has an exclusive hold on virtue; nowadays, some also find that the ever so slightly left-of-center inclinations of Barack Obama have threatened the country with ruin, moral and otherwise. I admit this strikes me as nonsense.

The U.S. still has a number of virtues, and high among them, at least until lately, has been its receptiveness to immigration. This seems apt, of course, in that the only Americans who can claim to be truly indigenous are our so-called Indians. Though I am no social scientist, I would urge, in fact, that some other assets that America has historically displayed-- improvisatory agility, inventiveness, relative disregard for social station-- owe themselves to the rich variety of cultures we encompass.

There has never been a single, definable American culture. For some, this is an impediment: our lack of monarchy and established religion famously drove novelist Henry James, for example, to Europe; but for others, including me, there is a hybridized glory in our most significant cultural achievements– like jazz, tap or hip-hop dancing, and even, though I haven’t space to linger on this, most of our greatest literature. And that glory is at least partly accounted for by the multivalency of our cultural life.

It therefore greatly pains me that a nation of immigrants should now seek to slam the door against all manner of prospective newcomers. How, one wonders, can someone named O’Malley, or Zukofsky, or LaSalle, or Belli, or Feinstein, or for that matter Trump– how can any of these insist on excluding people named Hernandez or Hussein or Said? For a U.S. citizen to demonize whole categories of people (Syrian, Central American, Mexican, what have you?) smacks disturbingly of fascistical logic. I have the dreadful suspicion that my country is sliding toward the sort of thought that ushered in the Holocaust: namely, that if things are going ill in my country, then it must be the fault of some group disloyal to its national character. America’s current socio-economic problems are legion, yes, but many angry people are now blaming them on some of the poorest and most defenseless people ever to have sought refuge on our shores. Why such citizens should hold these struggling souls accountable for their woes, rather than faulting the fabulously wealthy, who, by virtue of brute economic power, have clearly been far more responsible for those woes than any other faction—well, that’s beyond me. Even more absurd is their imagining a Messiah in Donald Trump, the very personification of extravagant wealth.

Even apart from the moral issues connected to it, there are certain indisputable contradictions in our newfound exclusiveness: while so much talk is of the crime and terrorism that will accompany certain categories of immigrants, an American’s chances of coming to mortal harm at the hands of one of his or her native-born, gun-toting compatriots are literally 5,000 times greater than of dying at the hands of the people we are being told to curse. One also hears that illegal aliens are taxing our social service capacities and are thus a mighty burden on American taxpayers. So far as I know, there is no credible study to ratify any such claim; what is clear is that, without immigrant labor, the cost of many American products would soar so astronomically as truly to hurt the taxpayer. Even here in Vermont, the dairy industry would likely founder without Latin-American labor; the prices of fruits and vegetables grown in places like Florida or California, to use a more dramatic example,  would rapidly rise beyond the reach of all but those same ultra-wealthy Americans.

But for the moment, needless to say, it is Muslim immigrants who have become our whipping boys, no matter the sad irony that the U.S has killed many, many more Middle and Near Easterners with our ill considered wars and our drone attacks than citizens of ours have been killed by Muslims of whatever sort, including terrorists. And yet...

And yet, having allowed all this, I do at the same time harbor some contrarian reflections on the issue we’ll be discussing in Slovenia. The program description suggests, for instance, that "we need not repeat the hopes that so-called normal Muslims, those living in Europe and North America and already adjusted to Western standards, can calm the terrorists, although these fighters of the Caliphate represent only a small minority of the Muslim community."  Really? Have I missed some reason not to repeat those hopes? I confess to disappointment in prominent Muslim leaders’ abidingly tepid condemnations, at home and abroad, of extremist violence. One can comprehend a concern for their own personal safety, and I don’t meant to sound sanctimonious;  I’m not sure how I myself would behave in their positions. But such worries never deterred the likes of Martin Luther King.

The program description also asserts that Islamist terrorism "has its source in a deep and fundamental rage against the West and its continuing exploitative tendencies in the Near and Middle East, as well as its pervasive belief in the superiority of Western civilization."  Well, western exploitation in the Middle East is undeniable, even reprehensible, and surely does have something to do with the violence we are witnessing; and yet the planners and perpetrators of the events of September 11th, 2001, of each of the more recent attacks on U.S. soil, and of the Paris massacre seem all in fact to have been quite well-heeled and well-educated; indeed, quite a number have benefited greatly from the abundance of the western world. What I’m stressing, then, is that their motives appear to have been far less political than religious, or, more accurately, that their politics appear to have been determined by religious fundamentalism, as unbending in its contemporary radical-Islamic avatar as it was in the militancy of Christians during the Crusades. The Caliphate, in a word, insists upon the superiority of its own culture. From my perspective, the mere fact that we, Westerners for the most part, will be able to have such an open conversation as the one I look forward to in May– well, that may not be an automatic proof of relative superiority, but at this stage in my life it will do until some better proof comes along.

I should admit that to play historian or social scientist takes me out of my depth. Let me turn, therefore, to some matters about which I do know a bit. Our program asks, "What can we, as writers and intellectuals, contribute to this relationship, that must grow into dialogue?" I am all for dialogue, and am far from thinking it impossible with all Islamic people, a few of whom I include among my friends. Frankly, however, I think we live in a fairy tale world if we imagine the likes of the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab, or Bokol Haram are the least interested in dialogue. Their views of the true, good, and beautiful are, from what I can tell, absolute and non-negotiable.

Yet we are further asked, ”What role must literature and culture play in resolving the conflict between Middle Eaterner and Westerner?” Most of us are lucky enough not to live in a system such as the old USSR’s, say, in which –as Joseph Brosdsky once said in a journal I edited– merely to describe a flower accurately felt like a political act. But in much of the west, and certainly in the U.S, we face a subtler difficulty: namely that neither the authorities nor the public at large are likely to be swayed one way or another by anything like fiction or poetry, simply because those arts go largely unnoticed. To that extent, our better writing strategies likely involve newspapers or, more accurately in our day, social media, as opposed to the so-called creative arts. But even online activism, to name it that, proves problematic, for at least two reasons. The first is that social media find Einstein in the same house as the village imbecile: thus, if two disparate accounts of the same thing are broadcast, there is no determining which will strike a broad readership as more compelling. In the U.S., this was exemplified by the idiotic controversy over President Obama’s birthplace. Those who chose to label him a Kenyan were simply not to be dissuaded by indisputable proof of his birth in Hawaii. The social media’s second great liability is that, just as oppressed parties may use them, so may their oppressors, a sad fact illustrated by the ill-starred Arab Spring and by frequent manipulations of information in China, for instance.

So it may be that more direct political activism– street demonstrations, more vigorous support of  candidates we believe in, and so on—are the likeliest avenues to such success as we may may find.

But let us imagine a literature that was an effective tool of change. My surmise is that, like socialist realism, it would, qua writing, be bad or tepid in any case, simply because art founded primarily on an aprioristic agenda is usually doomed to inferiority in my view.

All this may sound as though I urge political or social nonchalance upon the artist, urge him or her to be a little Nero, playing the violin as Rome burns. Not at all. In fact, exactly the contrary. Any poet who stayed innocent of the great migrant crisis would be no poet at all. An artist must be as open as possible to all manner of observation, and must be jealous of those observatory powers, because the threats to them are myriad. To allow that openness to be usurped by anything –even the noblest political or moral conviction– is by my lights suicidal.

Here is a remark, which resonates with me, by my dear friend, poet Fleda Brown: "I’ve long since quit worrying about whether writing itself is a worthy use of my life. Whether it is or isn’t doesn’t change my inclination to do it. Anyway, I’m positive that it matters, words themselves being small bulbs buried under the soil, small grenades."

I hope that Fleda is right, but in any case, I know that a willful effort to make my poems "political" or "relevant" will serve no one: not me, not my reader, and not any cause I subscribe to, including a sane and compassionate attitude toward those disrupted by violence, along with the development of a non-hysterical stance toward terrorism.

The only thing I really know to do is to beat at my keyboard. If what results is an explosion, I must accept that. If I am moved by a bloom or a bird or the birth of a grandchild, these are what I need to bring forth. The point is, we writers need to sustain belief in our own voices, and in their autonomy– not to the point of perversity or narcissism, but right up to those points. If we allow our voices to be controlled by dogma, even virtuous dogma (if there be such a thing), we might as well be writing advertisements or propaganda. We need to believe that our sincerest testimonies matter, even if we cannot define how that may be in any definitive way. We need to agree with American poet William Carlos William's assertion that

  •   It is difficult
    to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
            for lack
of what is found there.



Friday, December 18, 2015

New book

Vermont's new maverick publisher, Green Writers Press, has released my collection of mini-essays (the longest in the book is four pages, most about the length of the two that follow here).

Some of these pieces began as "translations" into prose of certain older poems that had never found their rhythms. I had an intuition –whether accurate or not is for others to judge– that those poems would do better if presented in the more supple format of prose.

Whatever the case, if these attract you, go to my web site, www.sydneylea.net, for ordering information.

Happy holidays!


Storytelling at the Res

Joe hopes he’s a good guy now, but by jollies he wasn’t a good one once. He says he even stole his own wife’s hairlong jewelry to pay off a deal.

I have to smile: hairlong.  

If you need a drink or drug, Joe continues, believe me, you’ll take what you got to take. Go ahead and rob your buddies or, like he just said, even your very own folks.   

Outside, cold rain is coming steadily, but it feels so warm indoors I’m afraid I’ll doze, even though I’m not exactly sleepy, and Joe’s story isn’t boring. Not at all.

There was a time he worked a big saw, he says, and the whole while plastered. It’s a wonder he never got himself or somebody wasted. There was a lot of days like that, and a lot in the joint too.  Once he broke a white cop’s arm with a tire iron. The cop and his pals didn’t like that, you can bet. 

Joe wears a raven feather in his hat, which he jokes about, telling how it shows he’s gotten better, because it sure isn’t no war bonnet. He tries to stay humble is what he’s saying, just that one feather. He prays all his war days are done for.  

Anybody else got something? he asks now. Everyone nods, but afterwards most just look shy and keep their mouths shut, except one guy in the room whose tribal name is See-Quickly, but people call him Jesse. He wears braids and has half an arm missing. He speaks up just enough to say he’s glad he’s out of prison. Again. I hear some scattered applause.   

They’s a bunch of other people not here, Joe says, some of them clean and sober for years. Then they disappear, and then you hear they’re locked up, or else dead.

What about you? Joe asks, looking at me, one of the few white guys.  What you got?

I try to say something, but it seems too hard to come up with anything but that I’m happy to be here, which I guess is true.   

No, no, don’t nobody feel on the spot, Joe continues, shaking his head, which makes his jowls shake too.  He’s just a guy himself with some habits. Like check out this gut– too many doughnuts.    

But doughnuts don’t make you lose it. I want to say that, because we are all in this place for being crazy once.  

You got something more, Jesse? Joe asks. Let’s hear about it. Once you put stuff right out in the open, see, that helps you get it out of your system.  You start in with that, then maybe you can get some healing.    

Jesse says, I don’t even own no hat, never mind some bonnet. I ain’t got shit.    

Joe calls that God’s will for now.     

So when I chopped off my arm at the mill, that was God working his ways on the res? Jesse asks Joe, but he isn’t pissed off; or anyhow he smiles.  

Joe knows Jesse didn’t mean anything bad. What happens, whatever it is, is what happens, he says. You might as well think there’s a reason for it. I mean, check around here. Joe nods his head at everyone in his seat. I look down at the floor when his eyes get to me. We’re supposed to be where we’re at.  I just call that a God deal, even when our asses get throwed in stir, maybe even if we’re killed. What do I know? I don’t know what God is, except He ain’t me. 

I wonder if what he says next might not just be right, and it could include me: we all went to different schools together. 

My trouble is, I want a story, and not just any story, but a knockout like Jesse’s. The fact that I keep looking for that sort of thing means maybe I’m not so much better than I was when I was using after all. I have to be a lunatic or just a fool to have wishes like that, to believe I haven’t been beat up enough to be interesting.

The blue tattoo on Jesse’s stub shows only the top halves of letters; I can’t make out the word they spell.
 




Surviving Romance

The world swelters, even at twilight on this August Sunday. My great love naps, her hair lank and humid across her forehead. The blunt protrusion of an empty wine bottle from last night’s party, which all day we have forgotten to clear away, bobs above the scratched rim of a bucket, its ice long gone liquid. How tempting it is for me to laze here too in the dank present.

It must be jelly, ‘cause jam don’t shake like that. Big Joe Turner’s figuration from my ancient turntable, the volume low, recalls not some erotic encounter but a dawn from years and years ago, which might seem to urge, Hurry back. I remember mornings then, the streets’ tar not yet a-shimmer with heat. Our family was passing two weeks in a rented seaside cottage.

Just a little boy, I’d race every day to the tide-washed beach to gather jellyfish, which lay bright as jewels in the sand– perfect, intact. I’d carry them home in a bucket, store them down-cellar until dark, then haul them up at about this very hour, stashing them under my bed. It made no sense, except that it did, to me.

Just under my bedroom’s floor, each night I’d hear my father rocking my mother in the bamboo glider. Soon, suddenly and mysteriously, their lively chatter subsided to indecipherable whispers. My crisp sheets wilted; cicadas droned; headlights circuited the walls.

While I slept, those parents drained my treasures into a canal beside the house. I wouldn’t learn they had done that until much later. It seems that the stench from the pail grew pretty awful by ten o’clock. They’d fill the bucket with water from that rank canal, explaining how jellyfish dissolve once they’re out of the sea.

An inexcusable lie, I suppose, but a dispiriting one. Every day, the same dreary routine: dissolution, vanished particularity. It all seemed tragic but unavoidable.

Since then, as for anyone, of course, experience has leached the glitter from other ruses as well. I have at times responded to all that with the same old disenchantment, as if most of what we men and women value will always trickle back to a native, general ocean. One assembles hopes or objects or affections or memories– and they all dissolve.

Yet some things are not so fugitive after all. I note the gray in my wife’s full hair, the slack of her jaw as she slumbers, and each appears a feature of the most beautiful creature I’ve ever imagined. Her length of limb and neck strike me as nigh miraculous.

My senses stir: a breeze comes in, stiffening from northwest now, and the day’s stifling vapor lifts. Outdoors, there is no miasma of mudflat, teeming canal, old fish; I hear no soporific hum of tires on pavement; I whiff the spice of evergreen, the deeper one of dark earth; the comical drone of a bullfrog reaches me from the pond.

I’d felt as though my very flesh were liquefied. Now, as that gathering wind caresses the curtains and my sweat dries, I stand and put a match to a candle on the table. Its slight flame leans inward. I imagine sharp stars. My love’s ring-gems glitter in the subtle light, as drops might on a window screen after rain. She seems a girl in such illumination; her eyes have that star-like glitter too, familiar and dear, as she wakes and smiles.
 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Remarks on David Rees Evans– and a new poem

Having lately been succeeded as my state's Poet Laureate by the excellent Chard de Niord, I am posting far less regularly here than once. But I will keep at it now and then for those who may be intrerested.

I'd like to comment first on the inauguration of David Rees Evans as the president of Southern Vermont College in Bennington. I had not known this impressive man prior to the ceremony last Friday, so was particularly honored that he asked me to read the title poem of my last collections, "I Was Thinking of Beauty," at the ceremony.

I am so glad to have been on hand for the most compelling inaugural speech I have ever heard.

Southern Vermont College is a small liberal arts institution, 65% of whose students are the first in their families to have gone on to post-secondary education. I had lunch with a number of undergraduates prior to Mr. Evans's investiture, and was impressed by their curiosity, ambition, and charm. The same for such of their teachers as I met. These qualities confirmed my view that the best students are the best students everywhere; they are not all to be found in the so-called selective places.

President Evans pointed out that these supposedly more elite colleges and universities have a way of educating their students to believe that their own successes are part of some natural order of things.
I know the justice of that argument, so to speak, from within, having attended such an  institution. And yet, by way of geography and of sharing hunting and fishing enthusiasms with many excellent people who never dreamed of higher education at all, I learned early on that the self-congratulation of privileged folks like me was not always deserved at all, that the social capital many of us inherited was the defining distinction between us and lots of hardworking, highly intelligent people, ones who often had skills as refined and crucial as any that we could boast. (Try fixing an electrical problem in your house, say, by way of your Ph.D. in art history.) Of course I can scarcely even sketch the president's argument in such short compass; but then again, I could not present it half so eloquently as he did anyhow.

I wish President Evans a long and productive tenure at SVC, a college that is striving to right some of the inequities I have hinted at.

************

In our house there is sadness that the older son of my wife's little sister is in a direc condition, owing to too many concussions. In his high school years, he was considered one of the best high school ice hockey players in the nation; however, before going on to college (and he'd have had his choice of many as a hockey recruit) he forswore the game, not least because one of his best friends and fellow players had been so badly brain-injured that ti took him an extended period even to be somewhat functional. Ironically enough, our nephew Danny finds himself in the same situation now. He is dropping perforce out of Colorado State, having suffered yet another concussion– in a neighborhood pickup game of all things, with small kids and geezers like me in the mix.

I was a hockey player myself, and have the missing upper teeth to prove it; but I was one of the lucky ones, escaping TBI in the course of my far less illustrious career. The following poem meditates on some of these matters:



         Clear and Cold

I don’t give a damn if that moon over our old valley
Looks twice the size of earth, if it crowds the sky,
Annihilating stars while I drive home unhappy
In a season after afternoons have died–

I will not write one word to praise this light,
Not with my nephew torqued in a hospital bed
By seizures after bashing his head on the ice
In a neighborhood shinny game, for the love of God,

Every college hockey coach in the nation
Had been looking at him with avaricious eyes.
But here he was whooping it up on school vacation
With guys my age and tottering kids on his side.

It doesn’t mean a thing, the stinking moon.
This child, a grown man now, has always been
The soul of sweetness. I couldn’t care less how huge
That fat lump of flotsam is. I’m thinking again

Of how one night, when his allergy to peanuts
Kicked in, the boy was loath to let anyone take him
To the oxygen tent and drugs at our backwoods clinic.
He hated to cause a bother. But he got taken.

The blue of his eyes seemed more vivid then for his fear–
Or ours. His hair shone gold as that ball up there.
And now these spasms, this pain, his parents’ despair.
I can’t rhapsodize on the moon, so candid and clear.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Poem in Honor of Vermont Arts Council's 50th Year


                                                    
 As it happens, my passing the torch as Vermont Poet Laureate to the gifted Chard deNiord is contemporaneous with the celebration of the VAC's existence for half a century. I will read the following poem on November 2, when, at the Vermont College of the Fine Arts in Montpelier, Chard is invested and a variety of governor's awards for excellence in the arts are presented. The Council has, of course, been deeply involved in all these matters.

It's been a joy and a privilege.






                                    Mixed Figures:
           A Salute to the Vermont Arts Council in its 50th year

A certain girl once longed
                                                to dance, and likewise a boy.
She does, he does. There were women
                                                and men who ached to sing
or play or compose. They do.
                                                Writers and painters and sculptors
and actors all follow old urges.
                                                With every step or word 
or note or dab of color,
                                                each tap of a mallet, each weld,
our mountains record a thrill
                                                along their spines, a throb
that thrums as far to the east
                                                as the long tidal river and westward
to great Petonbowk, the lake
                                                we call Champlain. Our slopes
and intervals arrange
                                                themselves as a series of circles, 

each wider than one before,
                                                and at length as a single circle
around Derby Line and Dorset,
                                                Bondville, Bloomfield, Barre,
Cabot, Cuttingsville.
                                                St. Albans, Saxton’s River.
The rest.  How I mix my figures!
                                                I’m a man at greater loss
for persuasive words than ever ,
                                                seeking to render a force
beyond his skills at depiction.
                                                I jumble our commonwealth’s map,
muddle even the simplest forms,
                                                all that I yearn to capture
so vast and varied– the sounds,
                                                the phrasings, the light, the movement.
Yet my failings don’t really matter.
                                                As King Lear’s blind Duke said,
“I see it feelingly.”
                                                Don’t all of us feel and see it
in this room, this town, this state,
                                                that ineffable amalgam
of Vermonters’ multifold spirits,
                                                which surge through the artist’s existence?
And those who honor that artist–
                                                it’s every bit as alive 
in them. They come from every
                                                walk– every flight of life.
They glide silent into the voices
                                                of horn and string; they shine,
however unnoticed, in brilliance
                                                of marble or metal or pigment; 
their indiscernible steps
                                                enliven the steps of the dancers;
they mutely charge an author’s
                                                forays into expression,
all of us fired and braced
                                                by this crucial collaboration.