EPIC Poet’s Corner — Travel, A Gathering Around the Family Piano

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My Edmonds News presents the latest installment of a new feature, Poet’s Corner, from the Edmonds-based EPIC Poetry Group.

 Travel

My decision to travel, is more than the when, where or how,

I am not dependant on a travel agency,

my spirit guide is history,

unflinching, ingrained, deep, dark, dank, unforgiving,

I grew up listening to The Grand Ole Opry,

each Saturday night, ears glued to an old Philco radio,

my grandparents and I listened, laughed, sang,

in our minds,

We could see Cousin Minnie Pearl decked out in her freshly starched gingham dress,

sporting a straw sun hat, price tag still attached,

We could hear the sweet drawl of Judy Canova,

envision pig tails hanging, touching the front of her pinafore,

beneath, feet sheltered by over sized scuffed brogans,

unforgettable, the preachy oratories of Grandpa Jones,

filtered through corn cob pipe smoke,

washing over a brand spanking new pair of overalls,

We knew them, they were us!

Grandma, we have cousins in Tennessee?

Uncle Jake has a brand new Packard?

We could travel to the Opry!

then the silence,

an ominous silence,

a calm before the storm,

a storm that never came,

hidden between frowns,

fidgeting, hand wringing,

lay a deep dark truth, old as time,

in the journey from childhood to old age, little has changed,

the road to various destinations, is still fraught with danger,

in some places, your money can buy you tolerance,

in others, no amount of money can offset the currency of hate,

daily I gaze upon the wall,

in my home office,

a place of refuge,

stringed instruments displayed on the wall,

hanging left to right:

Dobro, mandolin, 5 string banjo, classical guitar, dreadnought guitar,

all memories of The Opry,

a trip never taken,

lines never crossed,

for me travel planned is deeper than reaching into my wallet,

deeper than desires or dreams,

it is a reach into a deep, dark history,

silent,

a calm before the storm,

maps show 50 states,

for me there are far fewer,

deep,dark,silent.

Gerald M. Bigelow

~ ~ ~

A Gathering around the Family Piano

There was a wholeness in the family’s dysfunction,

an orchestrated coming together of disparate parts,

everyone had a moment,

an opportunity,

a responsibility,

a role to play,

a need to pull genius from the air,

some sang,

some played,

All cared about the music,

“Jazz was in their souls!”

the sounds,

languid and earthy,

a blues shout,

a gospel note,

a classical riff,

an alcoholic musing,

syncopated inebriation,

delivering pace to the flowing melody line,

moving in and out,

music swirling like a cat-fight in a smoke-filled box,

an ever-present stupor,

the curse of addiction woven deep in the fabric of family and New Orleans culture,

glasses too full,

“…far too often,”

they all drank to that!

as a child I sat curious,

listening,

gathered close to smell the harmony of voices,

feel the punctuated pounding of cigarette-stained piano keys,

keys scorched by blazing fingers,

leaping across the notes,

music competing with kitchen aromas:

Gumbo boiling,

rice steaming,

eyes weeping,

too much pepper,

too much cigarette smoke,

a bubbling cauldron,

angels and devils mixing,

a potent brew of humanity,

a family whole in their dysfunction,

looking back,

the steps of time separate the memory from the event,

leaving only a dim light burning.

Gerald M. Bigelow

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I Love the Desert but I can’t Stand the Heat

I can’t stand the heat of intolerance,

that fans the flames of hate,

I can’t stand the heat of ignorance,

that melts the heart of trust,

I can’t stand the oppressive heat,

that shrink wraps the brain,

causing narrow mindedness,

the Imax vision of stars,

punctuate the indigo face of night,

panoramic parades of cacti,

gallivant across the desert landscape,

in the distance a lone Coyote howls.

Gerald M. Bigelow

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gerald Bigelow is a retired aerospace IT Executive. Previously published in the Arizona centennial anthology, his poetry has also appeared in four editions of Between the Lines. Bigelow is an “at large” board member for EPIC Group Writers, and chairs a monthly poetry group. He is the editor and contributor to a recently published poetry anthology Soundings from the Salish Sea, (A Pacific Northwest Poetry Anthology). He was recently selected to read his poetry at an event featuring Claudia Castro Luna, Washington State Poet Laureate.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

The EPIC Poetry Group has been in existence for four years. It is open to the members of the public (free of charge) who are interested expressing and improving their poetry writing skills. The group meets the second Tuesday of the month at the Edmonds Library from 6-7:45 p.m.

3 Replies to “EPIC Poet’s Corner — Travel, A Gathering Around the Family Piano”

  1. Gerald’s poem ‘Travel’ is a beautiful, evocative reminder that the “good old days” were not the same for all. His description of a family gathered around the radio, listening to a show they wouldn’t be allowed to watch in person, breaks my heart. I can picture a young Gerald, envisioning himself at the Grand Ole Opry, figuring out a way to get there. . . while the adults try to figure out a way to tell him they’re not welcome. Oh my. And I wonder: here in 2019, how far have we really come? Well done, Gerald.

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