A Poetry Sampler from John Burroughs

“DOG & POET: You Decide Which is Which.” | Poet John Burroughs and Nash the dog at a Baber Mountain poetry festival near Richwood WV in July 2022. | WestVirginiaVille.com photo

“John Cage Engaged and Uncaged”

Sunken funkin' telepumpkin
Tell a country bumpkin who I am
And then let him tell you

Both will tell it true
Though their perspectives seem contradictory
I'm born of hickory and rectory
Blind Bartimaeus and insightful inspectory
True tale and muddled myth
On an identical trajectory

John Cage or someone like him
(is anyone like anyone
more than anyone is unlike?)
Said disharmony does not exist
Though even we peaceniks are pissed

Corn isn't hominy
But hominy is corn
And care isn't clothing
Though care can be worn
And all can be born
And all can be torn
And loved and forlorn
And warned and scorned
And according to some bother or brother or other

Sunken funkin' telepumpkin
Born of a couch potato
And a pureed tomato
An almost dead and buried berater
Blind hate hater
Thin ice skater
War abhorrer
Saint and horror
And governmental master
And sooner or later
Repeat reincarnator.

I am a living death
An awakened dream
Ash unconsumed
And a silent scream
Reconcilable so-called contradiction
And factual fiction

John Cage
Inadequately aged and yet
A sublime mess
Subconsciously clothed and consciously undressed
Said worse and better are no less than best
Corn is hominy
And there is no disharmony

Only harmonies to which our ears
And our fears
Are unaccustomed

“Redux Isn’t Pronounced Ray Do, But That Hasn’t Stopped Me”

I once said I don’t want to be
anyone but me, man, really
but then I tend to forget
I’m you and he and she
and the world is a poem
and whether or not we write
a word we’re all part of it
and each other

King Solomon is said to have said
there is nothing new under the sun
and he never saw cell phones
or personal computers
as far as I know

But what do I know?
I never met King Solomon
or even saw King Solomon’s Mines
though I know it starred
Richard Chamberlain

And in a sense we’re all this poem’s stars:
each daughter, doctor, dog, tree, rock,
sun, king, Richard, amoeba, chamberlain,
comedian comprised of star stuff, the same
atomic matter and energy that have been
around since long before Solomon’s time

So when you slap down your brother
you’re slapping down star stuff as well
as yourself because there’s no me except we
and we’re as large as we are wee
and everything’s relative as well
as correlative whether or not we’ve seen
the movie or touched a hem

and every identity crisis is a closing of eyes
and also an opening and may I never
write another careless word out of hurt
or hate or bravado or lack of empathy
but embrace the symphony of all
that is and live and love and learn
to dance with the stars

“Dog Day”

Valéry assures me a poem is never finished
while Rilke asserts that no feeling is final

Dickinson replies that seeing summer sky
is poetry outside of any book

Cocteau says a poet listens, does not invent
while I detect an emerging theme

Weary of obsessing about who said what and what
to say I embrace the poem’s lack of finality
and walk my dog in warm wooded air

smile watching him
run with abandon

John Burroughs is a nationally touring poet and performer who was born and spent his earliest years in Richwood, West Virginia, before his family moved to Ohio (quite a few of them have since moved back). He is the author of Rattle and Numb: Selected and New Poems, 1992-2019 [Venetian Spider Press] and over a dozen chapbooks. Since 2008, John has served as the founding editor for Crisis Chronicles Press. He recently served for two years as the Ohio Beat Poet Laureate and currently resides in Cleveland. In September 2022, John was honored by the National Beat Poetry Foundation as their new U.S. Beat Poet Laureate.

WEBSITE: crisischronicles.com
PERSONAL BLOG: jesuscrisis.blogspot.com
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/JesusCrisisBurroughs

5 QUESTIONS: With U.S. Beat Poet Laureate & WV native John Burroughs: September 1, 2022: John Burroughs, a native of Richwood WV, had his life saved by poetry back up in the Appalachian hills. Now, he is the National Beat Poet Laureate and a national touring and performing poet.

NOTE TO READERS: Since its founding in May 2020, WestVirginiaVille.com (a project of AmpMediaProject.com), has been a free online magazine of lively, opinionated & alternative writing and imagery about West Virginia. Help us stay in the business of offering ad-free, worthy content. CLICK HERE OR THE ‘DONATE’ BUTTON TO SUPPORT THE CAUSE.


Leave a Reply