Random poetry

Although I sometimes do it, I think it’s kind of rude to give a copy of your book of poems to someone who hasn’t asked for it. I experience receiving an unsolicited book by a poet I don’t know as a burden. I feel obligated to turn my full attention to it, and mostly it’s a disappointment. I find that I read a new poem by an author I know and like with a much more welcoming attitude than one from a poet I don’t know. I’m all set to dislike a new poet, sad as that seems.

So it was with some trepidation that I picked up a book from Paper Kite Press that arrived mysteriously on my desk. I had never heard of Jack DeWitt, and had no idea where the book came from. But the first poem, “Ferranti’s Ford” pleased me, and I have been reading happily through the first section. Mr. DeWitt lives up to the wit in his surname, and as a bonus grew up in Stamford Connecticut about the same time I grew up 15 minutes down the road in suburban NY. He listened to Murray the K and WINS, both of which were the background of my teen years. So even though I was not fascinated with hot rods, and didn’t see Rebel Without a Cause till I was in my 20s, the references in his poems resonate for me. Here is a taste:

James Dean

I had just seen James Dean
in Rebel Without a Cause
& wanted everyone to know
that it was about me so
I bought a red nylon jacket
and wore it with the collar up
over a tight white tee-shirt.
I went to Jack’s Army & Navy
for the engineer boots.
My hair was perfect too,
even down to the calculated
cowlick. One day as I waited
in the school yard, looking perfectly cool
Alan showed up in his blue school
jacket. Sue Skigen turned to me
as he walked across the ball field:
“Don’t you think Alan looks
Just like James Dean?”
*           *           *

Ferranti’s Ford

Ferranti’s Ford slid slowly around City Hall
like a sea creature
                 searching for prey.
Its curved teeth
    were from a DeSoto. They drew the sun into its mouth.
                                              The color
was Titian red (pronounced “Tahitian” by the car guys):
                  no rose
          only jewels know such color
                               bright, deep, perfect–
Its chopped convertible top white, taut, low
                     –the way a shark rolls its eyes tight
                                   before it strikes
I followed it to Main Street
          –my heart pumped with each pop from its pipes.
I jumped with the wheels when he hit second gear.
                       As it rolled past the Plaza Theater
I stopped to catch my breath.
                       Then it was gone. The world was quiet.
I looked around.
                       Nothing had changed except my life.
Jack DeWitt

2 thoughts on “Random poetry

  1. I’d like to share a poem of mine which I think is somewhat in the same vein:

    The cardboard triangle
    in the garage shows pictures
    of flies looking good on paper,
    with cheerful yellow background,
    seeming alive, not kicking.
    Real flies, attracted,
    get stuck on the images,
    dead contrasting with live,
    before and after poses,
    like your great-grandfather
    in uniform long ago.

    We see it in the garage
    where we lift weights
    so we’ll look like those
    men in the magazines.

    — Tom Rankin

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