Tag Archives: Todd Bartel

The Cambridge Poem

T H E  C A M B R I D G E  P O E M ~ #poetry

 

Commencement Address – Class of 1990 – The Cambridge School, Weston, MA

 

Give your regards when you go to the reunion and at the dinner,

say that you were thinking about them     They’ll, eventually, recall

your name; you went to the movies with that one, felt the weight

of their life when they sat next to you – they never said a word

 

All of you are rising friends: one used to play the piano, one once

wrote a play, one even seemed awakened enough to photograph the

fields as the unencumbered with tutored minds and unrehearsed passions

 

Meet them at the door, they’ve brought the souvenirs of time; a seashell

from the Pacific, the nose of a marble saint, and from the field

a spent casing divulged from the flower bed

 

Face a rising world bearing its gifts in its hands, kiss your incidental

dreams – rise, move away, take others

 

Give your regards to the well­-protected; you knew them, you went

to school together     There’s something to bury when you begin

to move away     When you are ready and rich in your wish for the

world, you have a new race to start

 

From the heart of this darkened quadrangle, I hear the library

hum, an immense chorus of writers murmur inside their books along

the unlit, alphabetical shelves; each one stitched into their

own private coat, (you will have to write your own) together forming

a continuous, enormous breath of language

 

I picture a figure in the act of reading, shoes on the desk, head tilted

into the wind, a person in two worlds, holding the nape of their neck

as another’s life saturates the page; or, in the middle of a thesis,

moving from paragraph to verse, touring endless rooms (you will have to  write your own)

 

I hear the voice of my mother and father reading and inside their

voices lie other, distant sounds

 

 

I see us reading ourselves away from ourselves, straining in circles of

light to find more light until the line of words becomes a trail

that we follow across a page and you will have to listen hard to

hear the voices going away (and, you will have to write your own).

 

 

© 1990 Jessan Dunn (DeCredico) Otis

Poetry as Narrative

THE RISK OF REAL GROUND

 

Stepping into air the woman falls

momentarily catching hair and nails

as on a wing or cliff or webs

 

First this, then that

 

Falling is water washing flesh away

it changes everything

begin to learn, again

 

Earth gives up pieces of itself so slowly

breathing passes through ash or oak or bone

amber perfume fills a room

 

A hand touches and moves away

you meet yourself

passing by a shattered glass

 

Say you understand, say you say

stand up, open your mouth

what are you standing on.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

– for Todd Bartel, Joanna Barth, Miguel Calderon, Sean Coel, Jemima Farwell, Lael Jacobs,

Elizabeth Jackson Johnston, Blane Kieng, John McLaughlin, Anna Regnery, Charis SanAntonio,

and Jodi Schwartz

(c) 1986 Jessan Dunn (DeCredico) Otis