What i know of joy would fit in a slim ghetto pocket
an origami dollar dipping wings in a soken Ramon salute thin as a dime dropped on the abandoned education passing history off as a pothole to be filled in an election year for a photo shoot.
What i know of patience prescribes twist off bottle tops in a window display of forgotten soldiers awaiting vaccination from the cost of wars we’ll never see on tv but always know in our bones as broken glass gathered in bedsheets sprinkled like pepper spray in the schoolyard.
What i know of righteousness is a metallic fish icon on a vagabond trailer with out of date out of state plates housing a happy meal beggar unsure of the best corner or the chances of a public restroom being open on a holiday.
The divine is holy to blame for claiming hope is an unfiltered breath the air of grievance codified to endanger the gendered, the tender, the air bending warriors unarmed in the cross traffic the wheels of changing tires scream for roadside assistance Samaritans dust off all weather ponchos to register the hard rain ice caps melting in the drought of attention antler bones drum on the pipelines and wind chills the populist notion of mutual concern.
Same as it ever was the branch falls from the olive and seeks a river doves grit their teeth in the unsettling dust of rebirth and tattoos migrate back to the simple mark of lions and lambs in a border town pushing a broom for minimum wage
All the books on the moon write footnotes to fate fingers crossed against monkey shines masking the way forward the same boat the same page will never be the same as the unopened vein of contention everything true is a bird wondering why flags become fascinated with sticks in the mud
Find more from Will here:
My name is Will Schmit. I began writing poetry in the late 1960’s on a dare from a high school English teacher who took umbrage at my sarcastic response to his suggestion Rod McKuen was the next Carl Sandburg. I didn’t know who the first Carl Sandberg was either but I was sure the poetry foisted upon us wasn’t worth the teacher’s emphasis.
I wrote a poem for the school newspaper but didn’t use my real name to not tip off the faculty. It got in the paper, it was some sort of concrete poem using the shape of steps coming to an abyss to represent our education.
My first outside school norm influence was Ginsburg’s Howl given to my by a member of our state champion wrestling team. I went to college in Milwaukee Wisconsin for several
half semesters, took two creative writing classes, well one and a half as I was bodily carried out of class by a body builder named Texas Jack Gonyo who told me poetry can’t exist in a classroom with no windows. He brought me to the side of a river and began to teach me Tai Chi and turned me onto Arthur Whaley’s Translations from the Chinese.
In 1972 I published my first book of poems Woof dem Babies Down on a literally underground press called Babylon. Anti-war protest stuff mixed in with travel tales of crossing most of Canada on a bicycle and of course the unrequited love poems.
Feminist poetry was the rage and I heard Denise Levertov live and began peddling small press radical feminist poetry books out of the co-op where I worked. Some of the lesbian poets didn’t know I was a male as my
nom de plume was not so gender specific and when they came to town to read it made for some awkward book sales. I left the Midwest at the height of my local fame having pulled in a 100 or more people to a hybrid jazz/poetry show as the local poetry club wouldn’t give me a gig.
I didn’t quit writing altogether but it was the 90’s before I got back on stage for an open mic in Northern California. I was also studying music and African Dance and formed a spoken word band with a group of multi-instrumentalists called Wiley Jadavega and the Poetry Section because the local Barnes & Noble didn’t have one.
We played coffee clubs and campus lounges for a few years, put out a cassette, did a local TV spot. Incidentally a poet who just last year was a Pulitzer nominee was a fan of the
band. I put out two chapbooks during the decade but the band folded and I again didn’t quite quit writing to study saxophone.
To be blunt I didn’t have much use for poetry. If I came across a literary journal I’d page through it and scratch my head at the obtuse language. Poetry slams and rap styles left me in the dust as I couldn’t memorize or freestyle so I took fiction courses on line, finished a novel, came in 12 th out of 200 in a contest and, you guessed it, set it all aside to study saxophone.
I’ve always worked, always been a blue collar street level sort of poet and around 1995 I got sober, re-married, and began writing faith and praise poems in what I imagined was a born again griot style. I called the band out of retirement to record a CD Bring to Glory
which is available on Spotify, iTunes, and my website.
I published a collection of personal psalmistry entitled Head Lines Poems & Provocations in an effort to rescue faith based literature from right wing propaganda. I got a Kirkus Review, had an ad in Poets&Writers and sold a handfull of signed copies before the pandemic.
I got on Twitter to promote the book and CD and found a new world on online publishing such as Fevers of the Mind. I’m writing more ‘secular’ stuff nowadays to use a word I would never use and have a new EP coming out later this year to be a poetic/music companion to a book of interviews I just signed a contract for entitled Bumping into God A Search for the Sound of Spirit.
I was recently excused from my first ever poetry workshop (and issued a full refund!) as I am apparently a horse’s ass of a different color. The highest compliment I’ve ever received is from folks who tell me they’re not into poetry but they read one of mine out loud to their spouse at the kitchen table through tears. Not sure I’ll ever top that but aim to have some sort of reputable press discover me as I enter my fifth decade of emerging as a poet.