Posts Tagged ‘Dave Manning’

Young Isaac is strolling through the orchard, another undifferentiated non-linear autumn afternoon of this perplexing equation we call life. Some of the fruit has detached itself and translocated several meters closer to the center of the earth. It has begun, with the help of fermenting microorganisms, to succumb to entropy. Isaac steps in it. He slips.

Isaac’s 70 kilograms, density of water, accelerate at 9.8 meters per second per second. Suddenly prone, the gravity of the situation strikes him. There, 10 centimeters from the tip of his nose, lies a perfect red spheroid. Glossy. Fragrant. The tiny lenticels on its taut unblemished skin are arranged with the symmetry of stars distributed across the heavenly sphere. “What an apple!” young Isaac exclaims, “Artios!” (his years of Greek instruction now finally relevant): That which is perfectly suited to its nature. The essence of appleness.

And how will Isaac’s own essence be transformed by this epiphany? How will yours and mine? No longer undifferentiated, will he discover his many gifts and their ideal trajectory? Will we ours? For are we not each of us an essence, our process of formation either distracted and garbled by the noisy physics of our history and our surroundings or alternatively able to grasp that trajectory perfectly suited to our unique nature? Besides mass and density and the ability to struggle upright against gravity, don’t we human animals also possess the agency of choice and change and discovery?

Isaac sits up and regards the apple. You know where this is headed. It will be 218 years before young Albert slips and falls and realizes that what Isaac experienced is actually the curvature of space. Meanwhile why don’t we all, each of us, sit up and regard our nature. Artios! To become that which is the perfect expression of our nature. It’s about time.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .

I have been a DAVID MANNING fan since I first sat up and discovered poetry. Whether he does it with a compassion that draws me deeper into the circle of human family or with a wry and pointed barb that makes me snort, he regards human nature and tells its truths. I will be the first person in line when his NEW AND SELECTED is released from PRESS 53 later this year.

And I have been favored to preview the manuscript. Wandering these wonderful poems spanning decades I enter an inner landscape and pass from reader to personal companion. There is a deep imagination at work; there is joy and no lack of laughter and sometimes a little weirdness; there are bright moments of insight and connection.

Most of all there is WONDER. No aspect of our human situation or our confounding universe goes unnoticed. David’s artistry gathers a desert landscape, a snatch of opera, a funky conversation and weaves from them with perfect sense and sensitivity an affirmation. When I reach the final page I say, “YES, that is the way it is.”

.     .     .     .     .     .     .

Sailing with Anne

Santa Monica, California, 1950

After her sailing class we cast off
into the ruffled Pacific blue, tide
incoming, echoes of great breakers
lapping the dock. She-the sailor,
the tiller, mine.

As we headed west, tacking
into a strong breeze I remember
marveling at who she was
to do these things. I imagined her
at the helm become Anne Bonny,
running a four-master down,
the setting sun turning red lights
in her hair.

I hope we left something there-
if only a boat paint-scrape
or salt spray from her hair.
Maybe something from that day
was never lost, but joined
the Pacific’s history, some trace
still riding the blue circuit
between the poles, with the sea-grape
and tiny life that make the coral.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .

Star Journey

Sometimes at night I return

to the Griffith Park planetarium

where stars from the surrounding hills

come out to music.

North of Los Feliz

I step from city lights into the night

sky of Patagonia with its wind-swept shores

under the warm lights of Fornax,

Fomalhaut, Alpha Crucis, a bright canopy

of southern stars, to music-Gymnopedie,

Satie’s barefoot dance.

Then, under the soft night sky,

I take off my shoes

and find my way into the stars.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .

David Manning’s NEW AND SELECTED POEMS is anticipated later this year from Press 53.

Star Journey first appeared in KaKalaK 2017 – Anthology of Carolina Poets
Sailing with Anne first appeared in Pinesong: The North Carolina Poetry Society

.     .     .     .     .     .     .

.     .     .     .     .     .     .


Read Full Post »

This is the book I had to write so that I could move on to higher literary endeavors.   David Treadway Manning

I came to Malaprop’s Books and Café expecting to be cracked up.  Which is to say, I came to listen to Dave read from his latest book, Yodeling Fungus.  After the introductory statement above, I knew I would not be disappointed.

I’ve been listening to David Manning read his poetry all across NC for the past ten years, nature poetry, love poetry, spiritual visions, politics, and I am always captivated by his ability to imagine fresh images.  He speaks truth from the heart.  And then . . . every once in a while he’ll startle me with a poem that is so sly, acerbic and right on downright damn funny I’ll just about strangle.  He confesses that these are the result of a genetic misfire from his muse, Guzman:

“Guzman de Pietro is a benevolent demon inhabiting the Manning bloodline for generations as a genetic hitchhiker, imparted into the genome to each its hosts humility and the restorative virtues of Merlot and bathtub naval strategy.  A form of male duende, Guzman erupts from time to time in newspapers and poems in outrageous and occasionally embarrassing public behavior.”

.     .     .     .     .


Starry Campion

Terminal Issues

Far from faculty teas, and leather elbow-patches,
out in the blue-collar, bare-knuckle world,
out in the cliché-ridden, six-pack world,

the little magazines flash in and out like
virtual particles in the plenteous void.  Some
catch and flicker into light to illumine

the pages of Poet’s Market for a year
or two.  Names like Manna, Pegasus go up
like bottle-rockets then fall for next week’s

recycle.  Somehow Lyn Lifshin strides
their galaxies as if on stepping stones
before they vanish, the tiny journals,

home-grown in someone’s sewing room.
Coastal Plains, Wellspring, Potato Eyes –
I’ve had a poem in the final issue

of each one.  I have sent my coup-de-grace
like poisoned arrows into their vitals.
Amelia took my killer limerick then died

(with editor Fred) before the fatal fetal poem
could be born.  And Knuckle Merchant greeted
my aggression open-armed then shuddered,

limp into rain-soaked tabloid rags.  Now,
I send out poems, with a warning
like a black box label on a drug.

Enclosed are five new poems.
Thanks for you consideration.
The side effect is death.

.     .     .     .

What I should Have Said to the Young Poet Who Asked, “What Is the Typical Age of Your Reading Group Members?”

It’s don’t ask, don’t tell
when we wheel in our IVs
& orderlies.  Just come with some poems.
At noon we bring our lunches,

community oxygen & an extra tank
or two.  You won’t feel out of place
after we lay a few lines of Thanatopsis
on you with our cool blue hands.

Come visit – you’ll fit right in –
like six by three.  We keep out too much
sun, so you can ease back on one
of our satiny pillows & enjoy.

They keep the black van running
outside & Brown-Wynne on speed-dial.
Yesterday a youngster with progeria
came & caught up real fast.  Don’t worry,

before you know it you’ll be
one of us.  Your hands will clammy up
real fine – knobbly veins and all – and
those cheeks of baby fat will croc-o-dile.

.     .     .     .     .

Dave, Worthy Evans and I read as the “Poetrio” at Malaprop’s Books and Café on July 3, 2011.

Yodeling Fungus, Old Mountain Press

Other books by David Manning:
The Flower Sermon
The Ice Carver

Previous GriffinPoetry post Featuring Dave Manning


Read Full Post »

Picture a slender somewhat grave man approaching the lectern. Matter-of-fact. Even slightly reticent. With only the briefest introduction he begins to read, and now you’re suddenly jolted by verse that is tart as some strong organic acid. Or wickedly funny. Or so tender, so full of love, you want to beg this person to be your friend, too.

And sometimes all three of those in the same poem!

I have admired Dave Manning’s poetry for a decade, but the images that seethe up through his lines have been simmering from California in the ‘60’s all the way to Cary, NC yesterday. Sarcasm that is never cruel. Sweetness never treacle. And always lurking a page or two away that divine wickedness.

Two of my favorite are collected in his book-length The Flower Sermon. In almost every poem a mystery hovers at the edges. The lines between waking and dreams, between chemistry&physics and the spirit realm, between existence and the everafter, all these lines are blurred and merging.  From the poem Mysteries:

How can light so absolute be gone –
no lesson to learn, no explanation?
Only a wall where a door
once opened. A mystery

like death
or where fire goes
when it goes out.

A poem like a Zen koan, more question than answer. The act of discovery comes after I’ve finished the last line; its silence reverberates, its hushed clamor.

And the last two stanzas of Mallards in Winter, which cries to be read when spring is still a thing hoped for but mostly unseen:

Their peace is so profound I cannot
disturb them. Their house is icebound,
but its attic is the sky. In the tearing storm

I invite them to take refuge in my dreams.
At the canvas edge, where the seasons
change, they escape into springtime.

So many of Dave’s poems intimate that where there seems to be no escape – from ice, from winter, from death – the mystery of hope abides.

Crested Dwarf Iris

Here are the complete poems:

you are the music
While the music lasts.  —  T.S.Eliot

I light candles to the way
you eyes would find me
from the far choir loft
and you would smile,

to the day
we brought the smell
of Liquidamber leaves indoors
with us, the first two stair steps
wet with the May rain; on a wall
a painting I had never seen —
geese rising from a marsh at dawn —
street sounds with tones,
the green-bue of late afternoon.

How can light so absolute be gone –
no lesson to learn, no explanation?
Only a wall where a door
once opened. A mystery

like death
or where fire goes
when it goes out.


Mallards in Winter

With the leaves down, I see them
paddle the creek-length, green heads
against the lighted flow.

They drift downstream in silence,
as if in a painting on a silk screen,
toward Lake of the Winds.

Their wakes show them to be real.
I watch them bob and disappear,
then emerge from the banks into the winter’s

silvering light. They let the current
take them, soundless, through
the shadowed channel’s mystery.

Their peace is so profound I cannot
disturb them. Their house is icebound,
but its attic is the sky. In the tearing storm

I invite them to take refuge in my dreams.
At the canvas edge, where the seasons
change, they escape into springtime.

[from The Flower Sermon, Main Street Rag Publishing, (c) 2007 David T. Manning]


Links to other poems by David T. Manning:

Dave Manning Sampler in WestEndPoets Newsletter

At the Spring, in Rattle

Mirella, in PoetrySpark

Read Full Post »