Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, ed., Books and Culture. / New at patreon.

Friday, January 14, 2011

"The Book of the Red King" at "Mezzo Cammin"

Eight poems from The Book of the Red King, a sequence I began in mid-October and for which I am still writing new poems, are up at the Mezzo Cammin fifth-anniversary issue. I have never written so many poems so quickly, and I find that these are in some mysterious, subterranean way very close to my heart. Perhaps it is because I am a secretly a courtly Fool . . .

Somehow I have a desire for my Red King and the Fool and Precious Wentletrap and the Tarot Witch and the Flower Queen and all the other characters from this sequence to wander out in the world and meet people. I want them to make friends.

Thanks to editor-poet Kim Bridgford, and confetti-with-fish to all the other contributors!

Here's title and opening lines from each of my poems:

About the Red Book

What does it mean to be a king?

To have the birds flock to your arms?
Gather flocks of men or cattle?

The Starry Fool

In a shivering of bells
The Fool comes shining, shimmering
Unseen along the moonshine way.

The King and the Fool

American Skittles, Jeu de Roi, Toptafel


The royal toymaker brings in a game
And sets it on the table by the king.
As wide and long as a coffin for a dwarf,

The Two Tables

The King sets a table for the Fool,
Arranging the cloth and the whittled spool

That's wound with gilt and silver thread,

The Moon of Precious Wentletrap

The moon is ripe, and so the Fool will dream
His moon-round dream of Precious Wentletrap:
Each moon she climbs the staircase of his dream,

The Birthday Cap

It is the Fool's birthday, so the Red King
Gives him another birthday cap: this time
It is yellow, as yellow as a ring

The Turret Stairs

Some nights the Red King climbs the twisted stair
That narrows like a precious wentletrap,
And at the top he pauses to admire

Directions for a Birthday Hat

Take willow peelings, stained to black, and steam
Them in fresh water from a running stream:
Weave into the shape desired--the tea

Now take my hand and jump to www.mezzocammin.com, where if you click on Poetry, you can find many wonders--and me, down at the bottom with XYZ.

16 comments:

  1. I am amazed and delighted by these rich and beautiful poems. You need to post a picture of a wentletrap. I had to look up the word to learn it was a marine snail.

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  2. Hmm, good idea! Shall have to find the perfect one.

    Thanks for reading, Robbi. The facebookies seem to like them as well, and I am glad for the comments here and there because this series has poured out like some kind of pleasurable madness. I have a keener wish for people to like these than usual.

    It has been three months: I've never had a flood of poems last so long or be so much fun to write. That is encouraging, I think.

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  3. P. S. Of course, my Precious Wentletrap is a great deal more than a marine snail! XD

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  4. I'm sure it is.
    I do like these poems very much!!

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  5. Ah, good.

    Just found a few emails about them in the mailbox. And am glad to hear.

    The Fool likes readers!

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  6. i love the music in these. And feel that because i was not interested when in school, i am probably missing all sorts of witty and wise connections, not knowing much about mythology and ancient works. But it does feel like ancient works are echoing in your words.

    Here's a fascinating view of a wentletrap:
    http://www.viewville.com/wentletrap-p342.html

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  7. Oh, yes, I have seen some of those photographs: very interesting to see the formation more clearly, and a good one for Robbi!

    Glad you liked the song or swing of them, zephyr. Zephyrs know a lot about music.

    I tend to think that I reduce all I read to a kind of alphabet soup of the mind. No doubt there are traces of the past in how I put those letters together again later, but I hope that all that I have written for the Red King and the Fool will be understandable. Besides, mythology works at a deep, inchoate level...

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  8. And...i'm hoping these find their way into their own book. i would love to read them as a whole.

    also, i think people like Margaret, at awaytogarden.com,her sisters would like these, and recommend them via their blogs. And, if i were you, i'd email Dominique Browning [slowlovelife.com] and invite her to read any of your works.

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  9. zephyr,

    Just ran back in the cold and snow from singing for the American Guild of Organists... very jolly, though I was roped in at the last moment. I can remember at time when I could not even walk in the snow without occasionally falling down.

    Yes, I am definitely thinking this will be a book. I have 85 poems so far, and that is more than I have ever written in such a space of time. There's just something about these figures; they keep drawing me back, every time I think that I am done with them. But some day there will be "The Book of the Red King," I hope.

    Thanks for mentioning people you think might like them (or others?) I am trying to collect a list since I seem to have so many books coming out so close together. And feel free to mention at will; I do think word-of-mouth from readers is more powerful than anything the writer can do (aside, maybe, from dancing naked or slapping the ghost of Norman Mailer.)

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  10. Oh goodie! 85!! Wow...that's awesome. Literally.

    i'm sure these two women bloggers would love all of your work and i'll keep my thinking cap on for others i may visit.

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  11. zehyr,

    Thanks! You are a helpful little zephyr. Lot of snow for a zephyr, don't you think?

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  12. Ohhh, yes. And you know this one loves it. with apologies to your southern heart.

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  13. Southerners love snow because they never see it, and I certainly have not lost the love of watching the snow come down in its infinitely variable patterns. Also that wonderful blue on snow at twilight...

    But I don't appreciate it in all its manifestations because I don't do snow sports, unless you count the occasional snowman or snow cave with children. And even that is rare.

    Thanks for the thinking! I'm not sure how a person who is afflicted with modesty approaches online readers. I've always had a hard time with the whole issue of marketing and getting the word out, though I'm trying!

    Make that "Remember a time," willya? Neurotic about typos.

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  14. Now I know why you those of them! Yeats.

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  15. i have the same aversion, to my dismay and detriment.

    My recommendation should have been to visit those women's blogs--primarily because i think you would enjoy them, and if/when you were moved to comment i'm almost certain they would follow your link back to yours and the sharing of your work would then come naturally. That's what i envisioned, but certainly not what i wrote. Both Margaret and Dominique are writers/editors and promoting their own books right now.

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  16. Yes, it is hard to change the way you arrived on the planet or the way you were formed, whichever it is--or both!

    I did find them both interesting... and saw the books (one with a Yeats title, too.)

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.