Thursday, January 05, 2006

For the Old Maestro, a poem by S. Marty

For the Old Maestro

I have come to be, like you
“A quiet madman, never far from tears”
My titans vanquished or subdued
My guides and teachers gone
no answering “Ou sont les neiges d’antan?”

We grow smaller with each life that’s shed
Even as our children turn to us
expecting a giant’s offering
like yours. In that little class room
at Sir George, the ladies young
and not so young sat forward and they clung
to every word. We young men stayed

Back, and tossed out arrogant questions
that shocked your followers but though
you brushed off our parries and our snide
asides, you seldom used the power
of your wit, to whip young ingenues in line
Until I ventured “Sex isn’t everything...”

The women turned and hissed me down
like snakes, but you laughed a lion’s laugh
because you knew the problem was
I hadn’t had enough to know

And after class you clapped me on the back
Claiming my friendship forever then and said
“Read Lawrence first, young Marty
then we’ll talk again”

I never tried to write like you
and never will. Good fortune brought me
to your door to hear what I had never heard
before, that poets were the true priests
The unacknowledged leaders still
What you believed, and taught

Whether it was true or not
You made us proud
To write what others tried
to beat out of our skins
in the little red neck towns

You made us proud
to be ourselves
In l965, when first we heard
Poetry was not dead and in a book

Poetry was this lion headed Jew
This fierce and joyous rowdy man
Opening the door to singing school
In cosmopolitan Montreal

I stepped through and
did I leap or did I fall?
Into the wide and welcoming arms
of the word

Sid Marty, Pincher Creek, Alberta
Jan. 4. 2005

11:20 PM


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