Poem for Gretchen

Ambitious environments
                                                             Blue Poles, Valla Beach

Sept 13, 2015   for Gretchen Miller

Jagun Reserve trails its sticky wall into the sea’s big blue eye,
a few roofs with solar in the green canopy fill the village (ignoring
next door’s corrugations). I should be content and am content, familiar
with my failings, distractibility, litter of abandoned projects and feeble
manual skills. I’d like to draw, sculpt, make music, but do what I do.

I’ve been thinking of David Smith near Lake George, Mohican country
upstate New York. From Fox Farm hemmed by wooden hills,
he watched his steel collages play with the elements in the surrounding
fields, one piece evolving another, colours and textures
nourished by the revolution of the sun and rotation of the seasons.

Anyway, our patch flaunts over one hundred kinetic sculptures:
green sparks fly; silver pinks prank with aerofoils; blues flicker
brilliantly below loose-limbed black aerobatics, rainbow beats and
majestic soaring gyres. A flood of verbs dart, glide, float, row,
pulse, loop, and loosely steer singing to the horizon.

We could move to a five acre block west of the highway with septic
but space grows weeds and work, more georgic than pastoral.
Am I ambitious enough? No. Do I work hard enough? No.
But that’s OK. Thinking and writing is living, though I never
lounged in a hammock on William Duffy’s Farm, Pine Island.

Bleeding Hearts flush blush though our small congested rainforest, vines
snake over Staghorns and Hibbertia’s buttery flowering, Scentless Rosewood
and Grey Myrtle bide their time, Fringed Wattles wear jade tassels of seed
and tree ferns fan a portfolio of fantastic fractals in Jurassic green
while underneath, native orchids flower white and plum, if you can imagine.

I love gamelan but a policeman lives next door and kids play opposite,
not that Hunter would have cared. The wild king of gonzo from Aspen,
Pitkin County liked, “to wander outside, stark naked, and fire my
.44 Magnum at various gongs I’ve mounted on the nearby hillside.”
He laced Eos with mescaline and ran for Sheriff. Am I brave enough? No.

David Smith, 1906 – 1965, by Dan Budnik

Back Paddock:

‘My cardinal vice of intellectual dissipation – sinful strolling from book to book, from care to idleness – is my cardinal vice still; is a malady that belongs to the chapter of Incurables.’
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journal, February 8, 1825.

‘I believe that gazing out at his fields, as he so often did, he found a kind of peace in the balance of the sculptures, which were like so many aspects of his identity. Physically manifested and set together to form their own dialogue – ultimately aesthetic – the sculptures in the fields brought a kind of musical order to the dissonance of his inner flow of feelings. He always said that for him, art was easier to do than life.’ Candida Smith (his daughter). From, ‘The Fields of David Smith’, in Candida N. Smith, Irving Sandler and Jerry L. Thompson, The Fields of David Smith, Mountainville, New York, Thames & Hudson, 1999.

‘Here I am and I’m not straining myself and yet I’m happy at this moment, and perhaps I’ve been wastefully unhappy in the past because through my arrogance or whatever, and in my blindness, I haven’t allowed myself to pay true attention to what was around me. And a very strange thing happened. After I wrote the poem and after I published it, I was reading among the poems of the eleventh-century Persian poet, Ansari, and he used exactly the same phrase at a moment when he was happy. He said, “I have wasted my life.”’ James Wright in Bruce Henricksen, ‘Poetry Must Think: An Interview with James Wright’, New Orleans Review, Vol 6:3, 1979.

‘Most of us are living here because we like the idea of being able to walk out our front doors and smile at what we see.’ ‘I like to load up on mescaline . . . while the sun comes up on the snow-peaks along the Continental Divide.’ Hunter S. Thompson, ‘The Battle Of Aspen: Freak Power’, Rolling Stone, October 1970, and Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist, 1971. At the time, he was running for the post of sheriff of Aspen.