DeWitt Clinton – Reading “Joy of Wine”

Clinton LE P&W September 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing September 2023

Reading “Joy of Wine”, poems by DeWitt Clinton.

Reading “Joy of Wine”

After Li Ch’ing-chao’s “Joy of Wine,”
sung“ to the Tune ‘A Dream Song’

Ages ago, so long ago, we travelled north
To see migrating birds, and the colors so
Brilliant even as they floated to the ground,
But we found a table at the Fox & Hounds,
And after, of course I made a wrong turn,
And then, completely lost in the dark dark
Woods, but even without a GPS to guide
Us out and home, somehow, we found a way
South still a bit tipsy, not far from the Lake
With so many Canadians settling into the late
Night, and the waves were crashing onto
The beach near our small home, and pulling
Onto the street where only one of us lives
Now, we startled grazing deer on our lawn,
And then, quite late, we found a lonely bed.

Who Wants That?

It could be worse, of course, but who wants what
Is already really bad to get worse, as in, Holy Cow
Worse, as in, that’s bad, or WTFJH or some kind
Of Bad Bad that only the worst are hoo-hawing
About right now, as this is something that brings
Out the best or worst of those who skipped out
After third grade thinking nothing more needed
Up there, except something is needed up there,
But not what’s there now, no, not ever needed
Though it’s going to be a tough go to try to even
Speak evenhandedly but if we even used that
Word once we’d probably be on the ground
With a terrible amount of blood staining what
Was once a decent sidewalk only now it’s more
Like a hardpan gurney with a bloody head bruised
Eyes, swollen lips and leaky eyes so who wants
That, really so there’s going to always be that
Quick hesitation before going in and saying stop
What you are doing as before we even get the
Command out into open space, when BAM we’re
Down and out on the gurney, and what, whatever
Made us think we could talk our way out of or into
This mess some call a mess and others just think
Of it as just something to hit as there’s not much
Else to do as we all get closer and closer to the edge
Of space where somebody somebody is yelling from
Somewhere stop doing that, and those doing just
That start the old belly jelly roll just before the bat
Comes out to rearrange whatever thoughts we once
Had up there about fair and square so here comes
The first pitch, and we duck a bit too slowly and try
To stand up straight as the second windup is out
There, cold, aiming for a better contact between
Bat and head, and it’s a hit, a bloody hit, and then
We’re down, face down, with a heel kicking in the
Old kidney and we’re wondering that maybe it’s
Really going to be worse but then it could be worse,
But who wants that?

Knock Knock, Who’s There?

Minding my own business, trying to stay asleep though
Up much earlier, but now safe under a pile of covers,
Then, out of nowhere, “Are you out there somewhere?”
In her voice, which is what some call voice recognition,
Or at least we call it that when we think we know just
Who is making this dream call in morning before morning
If we really want to call 3:15 an early morning wake-up
And yes, I’m awake all right, wouldn’t you if you knew
Nobody can say anything like that if somebody is officially
Boxed away as cremains, awaiting a scattering, as some
Might say, on a yahrzeit that is still so far away that no
One yet, to my knowledge, has even thought about flight
Tickets so we can all gather by the harbor where you’ve
Requested a final scattering, not the traditional unveiling
As there’s certainly no stone, and nothing under the stone
But that’s really not important now, is it, but can you just
Explain, neatly, without starting into something longwinded
About what dreams are really about, could you just say
No worries, bro, that stuff is out there, and might even
Return, not to scare you at all, really, but just to leave you
Completely, totally, like never ever before, totally gaga.

© DeWitt Clinton

DeWitt Clinton taught English, Creative Writing, and World of Ideas courses for over 30 years at the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater.  Recent book collections include At the End of the War (Kelsay Books, 2018), By A Lake Near A Moon: Fishing with the Chinese Masters (Is A Rose Press, 2020), and Hello There (Word Poetry, 2021) which was awarded the 2022 Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers.  His poems and essays have appeared in a variety of national and international journals.  He is a student of Iyengar Yoga and occasionally offers a gentle yoga class to seniors in the Milwaukee Public Library System, and the Village of Shorewood Library.

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