Saluting Poetic Heroes

Jim Ellis (photo provided)

Every community has unsung and all too often unrecognized individuals who move forward a positive and challenging literary agenda that inspires and enhances creativity.  A supporter of all activities that promote poetry, Jim is a primary and significant founder, as well as bulwark of a monthly poetry circle in Auburn, NY. Jim is a renaissance gentleman and witty intellectual, raconteur, and overall great guy.  When he reads his work, Mr. Ellis always acknowledges poets whose work should be part of an listener's canon of accessible poetry.  Today is no different.  So, we convene this week’s “Avenues” with a selected poem by Jim followed by two of his works.


Sharing a brilliant poem by Alicia Ostriker and a couple by me.  


Alicia Ostriker

It’s not that the old are wise
But that we thirst for the wisdom

we had at twenty
when we understood everything

when our brains bubbled
with tingling insights

percolating up from
our brilliant genitals

when our music rang like a global siege
shooting down all the lies in the world

oh then we knew the truth
then we sparkled like mica in granite

and now we stand on the shore
of an ocean that rises and rises

but is too salt to drink



We're old - gettin' rid of clutter.
It's like fighting death itself.

Or at least going back through it.
Stuck at a favorite cluttersection.
Thrilling to re-find something cool
from 40 years ago.  

Even staring into it now
you can't remember
the beautiful feather
and you'd pick it up today
as you just did then.



(to Tomas Transtromer)

Going back to work at seventy, other than an occasional backache I feel as young as ever.

I am suddenly thrust into relationships with many other people - each powerfully distinct from the others, each with their unique quirks, histories, vulnerabilities, possibilities, fates.

How would I feel in their lives?  Are I so sure I wouldn't have made similar mistakes?  

Sonya the bus attendant, no front teeth, loud, jokey, playful even - who plays or is stupid like a fox - has worked here 33 years, raising her children and grandchildren, proud of how well she knows the school district, the buses, the kids, the co-workers!  Soul of the bus garage.

It is amazing to know people.  Not just to interact with them during some brief cultural or commercial moment, but to know how they think, how they will react to something...

how to make them laugh.
"We touched each other once.  We did."


Jim Ellis has had the privilege of working with school bus drivers and attendants for approximately 100 years.  

Jim Ellis (photo provided)


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