On Becoming a Poet in the 1950s by Stephen Beal

There was love and there was trees.
Either you could stay inside and probe your emotions
or you could go outside and keenly observe nature.
Describe the sheen on carapaces,
the effect of breeze on grass.

What’s the fag doing now? Dad would say.
Picking the nose of his heart?
Wanking off on a daffodil?

He’s not homosexual, Mom would retort, using her apron
as a potholder
to remove the apple brown betty from the oven.
He’s sensitive. He cares.
He wishes to impart values and standards to an indifferent world.

Wow! said Dad, stomping off to the pantry for another scotch.
Two poets in
the family. Ain’t I a lucky duck?

As fate would have it, I became one of your tweedy English
teachers, what
Dad would call a daffodil-wanker,
and Mom ended up doing needlepoint, seventy-two kneelers for
St. Fred’s
before she expired of the heart broken on the afternoon that
Dad
roared off with the Hell’s Angels.
We heard a little from Big Sur. A beard. Tattoos. A girlfriend
named Strawberry.
A boyfriend named Thor.
Bars and pot and coffeehouses, stuff like that.

After years of quotation by younger poets, admiration but no real
notice,
Dad is making the anthologies now.
Critics cite his primal rage, the way he nails Winnetka.

From: https://poets.org/poem/becoming-poet-1950s

Date: 2004

By: Stephen Beal (1939-2010)

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