Niamh Clune

Environment, poetry, comment, children's books,

The Wednesday Poetry Corner With Susie Bertie

Susie Bertie has long been a special friend to me. She is a delightful person putting me in mind of a light quixotic flash of brilliance that comes and leaves a special touch of sparkle. And she can write. She moves words around as though they were scents or mysteries. Welcome back Susie  to Plum Tree Books. And thank you for sharing your passion about Derrick Brown.


By Susie Bertie…

Whenever Niamh Clune asks me for a piece; whether for an event, a publication, or for The Plum Tree,  I become thrilled and equally terrified. Thrilled because she sets the bar high, and constantly challenges me to explore some darkened corner, or fold in the fabric of experience.  Terrified because, well, that is my nature. It is human, easy to fall into comparisons with others in this Corner, to feel a bit ‘less than’.  Too much the outlier.  But Niamh knows me well enough to know I ultimately won’t give a hoot. I’ll step up. Engage. Stretch a bit.

I confess to visiting my previous Wednesday Poetry Corner, to see what nonsense I explored then and honestly,  the nonsense still applies. Poetry is my inner-construct – how I move through my minutes, how I interpret what lies in the spaces between. Poetry, for me, is the rising need to define not only the edges, but the common white spaces that make up our human narrative –the bursts of the glorious, the lament of the sorrowful, the thread that invokes the sacred.   Without poets, without poetry and the fluidity of thought and word … we become hollow, existence meaningless.

So, I want to talk today about Derrick Brown.  He is a storytelling force, a passionate phrase-smith, and a mighty influence in the American poetry movement.   You can read at your leisure here:

And it is often this piece of his, that reminds me of my compass point:

A finger, two dots, then me 

Lying together in the park on Seventh,
our backs smoosh grass and I say
I will love you till I become a child again,
when feeding me and bathing me is no longer romantic,
but rather necessary.

I will love you till there is no till.
Till I die.
And when that electroencephalogram shuts down, baby
that’s when the real lovin’ kicks in.

Forgive me for sounding selfish
but I won’t be able to wait under the earth for you
(albeit a romantic thought for groundhogs,
gophers and the gooey worms).
I will not be able to wait for you…

but I will meet up with you
and here’s where you will find me:
get a pen–

Hold your finger up
(two fingers if your hands are frail by now)
and count two stars directly to the left
of the North American moon.
You will find me there.
You will find me darting behind amazing quasars
Behind flirtatious winks
of bright and blasting boom stars!

Sometimes charging so far into space
the darkness goes blue.
I will be there chasing sound waves
riding them like two-dollar pony ride horses
that have finally broken free and wild.
I will be facing backwards, lying sideways,
no hands, sidesaddle, sometimes standing
sometimes screaming zip zang zowie!
My God, it’s good to be back in space… Where is everybody?

You will recognize my voice.
You will see the flash of a fire trail
burning off the back of me
burning like a gasoline comet kerosene sapphire.
This is my voice.
Don’t look for my body or a ghost.
I’ll resemble more a pilot light than a man now.

I’m sure some will see
this cobalt star white light from earth
and cast me a wish like a wonder bomb.
And I’ll think “Hmmph. people still do that?”

I’m sure I’ll take the light wonder bombs
to the point in the universe
where sound does end.
The back porch of God’s summer home.

It’s so quiet here, you float.
It feels the way cotton candy tastes.

I say to him… why do I call you God?
He says ‘Because Grand Poobah sounds ridiculous.’
(Who knew he was so witty?)
I ask him ‘Lord, so many poets have tried to nail it and missed, what is holy?’

At that moment,
the planets begin to spin and awaken
and large movie screens appear on Mars, Saturn and Venus
each bearing images I have witnessed
and over each and every clip flashes the word holy.

magic tricks–holy
cows’ tongues–holy
snowballs upside the head–holy
clumsy first kisses–holy
sneaking into movies–holy
your mother teaching you to slow dance
the fear returning
the fear overcome–holy
eating top ramen on upside-down frisbees
cause it was either plates or more beer–holy
drunk beach cruiser nights–holy
the $5.00 you made in vegas
and the $450.00 you lost–holy
the last time you were nervous holding hands–holy
feeling God at a pool hall but not church–holy
sleeping during your uncle’s memorized dinner prayer–holy
losing your watch in the waves and all that signifies–holy
the day you got to really speak to your father cause the television broke–holy
the day your grandmother told you something meaningful
cause she was dying–holy
the medicine
the hope
the blood
the fear
the trust
the crush
the work
the loss
the love
the test
the birth
the end
the finale
the design
in the stars
is the same
in our hearts
the design
in the stars
is the same
in our hearts
in the rebuilt machinery of our hearts

So love, you should know what to look for
and exactly where to go…

Take your time and don’t worry about getting lost.
You’ll find me.
Up there, a finger and two dots away.
If you’re wondering if I’ll still be able to hold you
…I honestly don’t know

But I do know that I could still fall for
a swish of light that comes barreling
and cascading towards me.

It will resemble your sweet definite hands.
The universe will bend.
The planets will bow.
And I will say “Oh, there you are. I been waitin’ for ya. Now we can go.”

And the two pilot lights go zoooooooom
into the black construction paper night

as somewhere else
two other lovers lie down on their backs and say
“What the hell was that?”

-Derrick Brown, Beat Poet

About Dr Niamh

When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down. One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.” Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!” I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I? I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.” Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray. With love from Dr. Niamh, Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books.

4 comments on “The Wednesday Poetry Corner With Susie Bertie

  1. Jamie Dedes
    December 4, 2013

    A wonderful combination of playfulness and spiritual infusion. Absolutley delightful.

    “Poetry for me …” ditto all that.


  2. Patricia Tilton
    December 5, 2013

    You had me with your opening: “Poetry, for me, is the rising need to define not only the edges, but the common white spaces that make up our human narrative –the bursts of the glorious, the lament of the sorrowful, the thread that invokes the sacred….” You truly have a gift. Enjoyed Derek’s poem. It has a spiritual element to it I like.


  3. soziebird
    December 8, 2013

    Thank you from the fullness of my heart for all your kind comments ….
    Write on !!!


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This entry was posted on December 4, 2013 by in Guest Authors, Poetry and tagged , , , , , .
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