Climb These Stones
Or Chisel Your Own

3 hours a day for eleven years
in different slaughter houses,
I scrubbed, sprayed blood off walls,
floors and scooped bones into buckets,
so I could spend precious hours
in public libraries throughout
the Midwest reading poetry and fiction
searching for my niche.
What I learned was to begin writing
with an empty head,
then let my instincts be my guide.
Stanzas and paragraphs hit me in a flash,
no matter the clock time
and had to be put on paper immediately,
otherwise they’re gone
as quickly as they came.

I began my 8-year apprenticeship
at actor Joel Grey’s suggestion.
At the crack of the New Year’s bell
in 1956, I felt I was ready for the
center ring!
Bones, NYC, published my first poem
A Modern Replacement
of the nine I held back.
My first collection of poems,
Argument for Love, hit the
bookstores in 1969.

Only a few poets, fiction writers
and playwrights are distinct individuals;
the rest are bland and neutral
personalities with little to say
and generally dull.
(Even an average poet gets lucky
And writes a few interesting stanzas.)

Talent dries up. Endurance doesn’t.
The few who make it an occupation
become more specialized
because their words don’t have
the plasticity of music,
painting or sculpture.

Great poets and fiction writers’
come from deep inside their
often opening themselves
to un-faced abuses:
complete exhaustion
we must write through daily.

Drilling with jack-hammers
is exhausting, but not what
the poet fiction writer playwright
It is external;
the other internal.

Our age does not—perhaps no age
Ever did—pay enough tribute and respect
to those masters of imagination.

The poet cannot make a living,
the novelist fares best as a
peeping tom,
and the playwright as a Simple Simon.
But the mere commentator, who
does little but rearrange the obvious,
is considered something of a marvel.

6-27-06, Yonkers, NY (3rd poem in 6 yrs)

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