Friday, May 15, 2015

for the godfather, daniel thompson (1935-2004)

Jeffrey Bowen's poem "for the godfather, daniel thompson (1935-2004)" was awarded first place in the 2015 Hessler Street Fair poetry contest.  He will be reading it from the main stage at the Hessler Street Fair at 1:45 p.m. (right before the Cats On Holiday set at 2:00 pm) this Sunday, May 17th; broadcast live on WRUW-FM 91.1.
Daniel Thompson (photo by John Hauserman)

for the godfather, daniel thompson (1935-2004)

at the outpost coffee house you said, “you seem like a nice kid, now go away”
at the “together help line” it was, “hey kid, don’t i know you?”
after a reading of some hot-off-the-press buddhist third class junkmail oracle jazz,
you advised, “try to stay out of jail”  then offered your card, “just in case”

years later, down in kent, you got right in my face,
and said, “nice work, ever read at a junk yard?”

poet laureate, king of hearts, jack of the arts

tradesman, fisherman, great grey chief

bondsman, bread man, blanket man, thief

stealing time, and offering rhyme in return, you backed me into gigs:
“can you pick me up?” “got a minute?”
“what are you doin’ right now?”
“any poems on you?”

so we did militant larynx, midnight poets, at the arabica, hart crane’s valentine,
and readings in honor of d.a. levy and langston hughes,
PAND at cain park, dan’s slam, luigi’s in your ear, mark’s reader,
barry’s library, suzanne’s book store,
on stage at CPT, hessler street fair, barking spider,
and gigs with sparks, salinger, melton, drumplay and brother ray

so when they say, “did you know him well?”
i say, “hell, every poet did”

and every one of the hundreds who actually went to church that day
had something to say, a poem to read, a story to tell
Jeffrey Bowen reading at the
Hessler Street Fair poetry contest May 13
(photo courtesy Sean Thomas Lemonhead)

so, with a kiss of the ring and a wave of the hand,
i say thank you to the best damn poet in the land
of cleve,
from which, so many artists eventually split

but not you, daniel,
you stayed, and the band played,
and we all got paid
in smiles,
and miles of poems,
good deeds,
words to heed

and we still hear you in the wind
as it whips across the flats, cuts carefully up superior,
takes one-o-five to east boulevard, then jogs to juniper
whispers across the mic at the spider,
and playfully rustles leaves and tussles hair,
at the annual hessler street fair

--jeffrey bowen

To read the rest of the 2015 Hessler Street Fair poems, get a copy of the 2015 Hessler Street Fair Anthology, available at the Mac's Backs booth at the Hessler Street Fair this weekend, or directly from Mac's Backs. 

jeffrey bowen

poetry & percussion

Jeffrey Bowen’s poetry has been published by Art Crimes, Cicada, Cool Cleveland, Crisis Chronicles, Cleveland State University Poetry Center, Dimensions, Doan Brook Watershed, Excursions, Green Panda Press, Hessler Street Fair, Procrastination Press, Poet’s League of Greater Cleveland, The City, The Cleveland Reader, and Whiskey Island Magazine He is one of six poets profiled in the 1995 documentary, “Off the Page”. Four of his poems are featured on “Cleveland Tumbadors,” an album of Traditional Afro Cuban Music and Latin Jazz on Fame City Records. Jeffrey is the resident poet & conga player with the band, Cats On Holiday, and his poetry appears on their CD, “Holiday in a Box” from COHTONE Records. Jeffrey’s poetry is among the “Top Ten Cleveland Poems” in both 2013 and 2014. His tribute to Poet Laureate Daniel Thompson won the 2015 Hessler Street Fair Poetry Anthology Competition. Jeffrey’s writing has also appeared in Call & Post, City News, Cool Cleveland, EcoWatch, Elephant Journal, Girl Scout News, GreenCityBlueLake, Heights Observer, Live Cleveland, Neighborhood News, Nonprofit Notes, Sun News and various Habitat for Humanity publications.

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The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau