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Monday, 9 July 2012

Charlie Vermont: Presbyterian Nurse


Salmon - Boaz - Obed (detail): Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1511-12, fresco, Cappella Sistina, Vatican

never blink in compassion

and care, straight hair

always at the ready

church on Sunday

PTA and ballgames

during the week

an upholder of Christ’s

dictum to visit the sick

came in one day with

an accidental needle stick

used needle, owner of said

blood unknown

she shivered and shuttered

herself in fear of HIV

but it had been there

overnight, reassurance

the horror the possibility

an unlikely outcome

she went back to who she was

bravely, knowing the risks

Asa - Jehoshaphat - Joram (detail): Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1511-1512, fresco, Cappella Sistina, Vatican


TC said...

Charlie Vermont is a poet and healer in the tradition of William Carlos Williams.

Forty-some years ago he began sending me terrific poems, which I in turn put in that journal now famous for its wall-to-wall rich kid balloon and taxidermy parties. Back then however the publication did have one claim to relevance, at least for the Intelligence Agency which (as we poet dupes would latterly learn) was covertly "running and financing the operation". It made a really cool front. All that's now been found out. A cure for the disrespect this journal has thereby earned and richly deserved is to search the ancient files and dig up the actual poems.

Charlie's poems may be found by the perspicacious in issues #47, 49, 51 and 55 of The Paris Review.

It's been a long time since Charlie and I have seen one another (Bolinas in the Jurassic Period) but then it's been a long time since I've seen anybody, and I feel Charlie's personal presence all the time in his writing voice. In those interim years which I've assiduously wasted Charlie was putting his folk shoulder to the communitarianism and conscientious social activism wheel across the wilds and stretches of the High Southwest and ended up going all the way for his principles, becoming a people's doctor in a part of these States where that kind of miracle can still occur. All hail and salute then!

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Knowing the risks is taking them. I see that risks can attack, suck away and tug at you. This is how it is at the wheel. Charlie Vermont. A name with a state in it. A place.

TC said...

Life or death situations seem to bring out the best in some people.

Michelangelo's images of compassion appeared to hold up here and the human feeling content also being upheld would constitute a remarkable thing in itself; not many poems can stand without embarrassment in the light of the Sistine Chapel after all.

Susan, about places -- Charlie probably has that legendary New York State of Mind deeply engrained, but now he's in, no not Vermont, but Arkansas. He has been a close observer of American life from those as well as other interesting vantages; the privileges of the several avocations and professions.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Re “In those interim years which I’ve assiduously wasted”—I think all of us out here in the wasteland—Charlie Vermont included—would counter with a Don’t be so hard on yourself, Tom.

Luster said...

I contacted him in Arkansas a couple of years back and he told me about his care for the late Arkansas poet Besmilr Brigham.

Wooden Boy said...

"never blink in compassion and care"

The physical impossibility of keeping your eyes open when attending to the suffering of another - and yet that's what you're called to. Set this alongside the "possibility" of "the unlikely outcome" - to be passed over as "...she went back to who she was...".

This is somebody writing out of a place full of tough ethical demands and writing great poetry at that!

Susan Kay Anderson said...

It often feels like wasted time
away from the poet's words
his dispatches
greens, mauves, oranges
the downcast eyes he goes
on and on
even ellipses are fascinating
and thoroughly examined.

What is found there
is what time is all about
more or less
true. Like bears
are true.



All hail to thee, blythe spirit --
"never blink in compassion"


light coming into fog against invisible
ridge, birds beginning to call in field
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

this group of drawings seen,
repetitions of “types”

as one appears, what before
it, something happens

grey white of fog against top of ridge,
shadowed green pine on tip of sandspit

ACravan said...

This is really splendid on all counts. Bravo Charlie; Bravo Michelangelo. Curtis