Saturday, April 11, 2009

Book Exchange, Part 4

Gary B. Fitzgerald’s two books, Softwood and Hardwood, aren’t journals in the conventional sense, but to a large degree they serve that purpose. His poems are direct, quiet, and reflective. They are conversational and down to earth. Together, they form the kind of record I think many of us wish our fathers and brothers had left behind, or perhaps would still if they knew how. In both books, the inner and natural worlds are intertwined. When the poet holds up a flower, that flower also acts as a mirror. Animals, trees, thorns, streams, and stars — they are all related somehow to love, loss, kinship, triumph, and regret. Lovely.


      When I worked at the zoo I noticed
      how some animals would fight to escape,
      tearing and scratching at chain link or stone,
      desperate to find freedom some way.
      Others were perfectly happy
      to be fed every day.

                                                — Hardwood

Book Exchange, Part 3
Book Exchange, Part 2
Book Exchange, Part 1

Recently Linked: A friendly welcome to Nazia Mallick, of New Delhi, India, who has signed on as a follower of Recently Banned Literature. Nazia is the author of three blogs. You can read more about her here.

Journal entry for April 10 added to Volume 23 of Songs and Letters.


Nazia said...

Hello William

It was just few days ago that I discovered your website and was blown away!
Believe me, with the risk of sounding like a gushing teenager I must tell you that I have been totally engrossed in reading your poems since then. The experience is almost transcendental.
I think you have found the knack of capturing the wordless language of the heart through your poems/Haiku.

Thank you so much for sharing.

warm wishes


William Michaelian said...

Nazia, your comments are deeply appreciated. Thank you.

baj salchert said...


Did some more fiddling today with my 5-poet KH post. There now is one poem from each book. Tried to keep them somewhat on the same theme. Chose Gary B. Fitzgerald's "Hello" hug.

About your poem: one of the reasons I chose it was because my father and I, although we did things together, were never close.
I tried to change that toward the end of his long life, and may have succeeded through a poem I'd written and asked one of my sisters to read to him. When I asked her how it went, she told me he smiled. So, you are welcome and

I thank you for choosing the lines you did from #14 and #20. It helps me see them more fully. Often I do not strive for musicality in my poems, but Shakespeare, Keats, Dylan Thomas, and Eliot were several of the many who influenced me.

William Michaelian said...


Thanks for the update on your KH post. Those are some nice selections.

What you said about you and your father reminded me: when I was about fifteen, I wrote a poem for my father; he cried when he read it. The poem hasn’t survived and I remember only its title. My father passed away in 1995. He wasn’t a reader of poetry or novels, but was intelligent, well informed, had a great sense of humor, and was an excellent judge of character.

Judging by the many poems of yours that I’ve read, I would guess there is almost always a melody running through your head.

Thanks again.

Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

I wrote this for my father in 1992, two years before he passed away.

That Which You Must Keep

The winds of time, they scatter lives
like leaves spin in the Fall,
scatter legacies and fortunes,
families and all.
More things are lost in lifetimes
than one man can scarce recall.
Down come our dearest, treasured dreams
as does the castle wall.

But if a man can grasp and keep
just one thing through the rage,
and though he’ll lose the book,
can keep but one slim page
and hold it tightly to him
as he gathers years and age,
then surely this is whispered
by the oldest, wisest sage:

“Let nothing lost defeat you,
bring you worry, tears or bother.
Stay strong through war and pestilence,
through fl ood and wicked weather;
just one thing must you never lose,
because there is no other,
and that’s the love that’s in your heart
for your one and only father.”

Happy Father’s Day