Fruit of the Loquat Tree

Gus Blaisdell's studio shelf

Gus has a shelf in his study filled with found objects.

They glow in the south window,

they resonate in memory.

Gus has a grandson named

Jack Augustus.

He twirls a phrase like other children swing

tin pails at the beach.

Jack says

bop de bop de bop de bop.

This beat is coded in his genes.

 

Loquat, loquat.

How many varieties can there be

of fruit from this one loquat tree?

 

Marshal Will Kane turns back

from retirement

each semester. Gus asks his students

Can you hear it? Do you GET it?

There’s courage in this art,

no art without courage.

It’s always nearly noon,

ask Wen Ho Lee.

Loquat, loquat.

Bop de bop de bop de bop.

 

A friend from Socorro days asks me

are you related to Gus

by marriage?

 

Let’s skip a survey of the intervening decades

and turn to objects that glow in memory.

Gus taught a class there.

Are you related to Gus by

learning?

Loquat, loquat.

Bob de bop de bop de bop.

How many varieties can there be

of fruit from this one loquat tree?

 

Translate loquat from Mandarin: Rush Orange.

Pronounce its taxonomic name:

Eriobotrya japonica.

Follow it hanging in the western sky,

round burnt orange disk.

Follow it to the first tree

rooted in oriental earth, rooted in Adam’s memory.

Seeds from this one tree blew across oceans,

flowered in strange, distant worlds.

Can you hear the rhythm that carried these seeds?

Do you GET it?

Loquat, loquat.

Bop de bop de bop de bop

 

 

16 Sept 2000

Mark Ivey

“Written for Gus” Sixty-Fifth Birthday

 

 

Invitation to a Ghost

My Vampire

©Nicole Blaisdell Ivey

Invitation to a Ghost

for Henri Coulette(1927-1988)

I ask you to come back now as you were in youth,

Confident, eager, and the silver brushed from your temples,

Let it be as though a man could go backwards through death,

Erasing the years that did not much count,

Or that added up perhaps to no more than a single brilliant

forenoon.

Sit with us. Let it be as it was in those days

When alcohol brought our tongues the first sweet foretaste of

oblivion.

And what should we speak of but verse? For who would speak of

such things now but among friends?

(A bad line, an atrocious line, could make you wince: we have all

seen it.)

I see you again turn toward the cold and battering sea.

Gull shadows darken the skylight; a wind keens among the chimney

pots;

Your hand trembles a little.

What year was that?

Correct me if I remember it badly,

But was there not a dream, sweet but also terrible,

In which Eurydice, strangely, preceded you?

And you followed, knowing exactly what to expect, and of course

she did turn.

Come back now and help me with these verses.

Whisper to me some beautiful secret that you remember from life.

Donald Justice

*Read by Raymond Waddington at Gus Blaisdell’s memorial celebration Feb 2005

The Intellectuals at Okie’s Bar

Gus Blaisdell NM 1969 ©Arthur Lazar

Gus 1969 © Arthur Lazar

The Intellectuals at Okie’s Bar                                                                                                 for Gus Blaisdell

They are lovers of their own distortions                                                                               who sit in such darkness    music                                                                                     steaming about them                                                                                                                                                     beer swelling                                                                                       their muscles / sense and temperance                                                                                   tortured into hours of speech                                                                                                 to dowse their minds’ reflection                                                                                                                                                                  Ocean at night                                                     leaps up in tongues of green illuminated                                                                                 spume    and dies on sand                                                                                                       A residual humor flaps its wings                                                                                             evacuates into air                                                                                                                                                     The bar is                                                                                       headquarters for difficult gymnastics

There is nothing outside but stars                                                                                       and a sliced moon    cold now in Novermber that                                                                     arrogant Heaven peopled by the dead                                                                               Cars wearing holsters cruise                                                                                                   the boulevard                                                                                                                                                      at one with those harmonious                                                                         seasons and cycles to which                                                                                                   the balls of drunks aspire:                                                                                                                                                        to be contained                                                                           in Purpose     molten fluid pouring                                                                                 through strict cylinders                                                                                                                                                        to arrive at                                                                                       the laurel bush at last     completely relieved                                                                         done with hessian duty      into the arms                                                                                 of a goddess more woman than ghost

We are not the mob that coils                                                                                           around Fortune’s rim     Snake eyes                                                                                     inhabit our bones                                                                                                                                                             seeing fumes                                                                             canopy all gay processions (prophesy also                                                                         the pit where brains are buried)                                                                                                                                                      so we refuse                                                                       to march                                                                                                                                                         hippity-hop through Hell instead                                                                       our toes quick                                                                                                                                                           as red coals                                                                                             spend our laughter in heads of foam                                                                               matching the need for                                                                                                                                                                    bright occasions

Gene Frumkin (1928-2007)                                                                                                  from Clouds and Red Earth     Swallow Press

***First published in The Only Journal of the Tibetan Kite Society, 1969                                    edited by Howard McCord , The Tribal Press

Ken’s poem for Gus

Gussy

Gus
Albuquerque, NM

“Earth angel, earth angel, the one I adore”
–The Penguins

Ten months after your death I got the news.
All that time you were still alive.  Each week
I thought of you or told a Blaisdell story,
The way I saw you first, at my front door,
Six hours late, the middle of the night, festooned
With leaves in your hair from the back yards you’d crashed through
As curly haired as Bacchus and as stoned:
“Your neighbors don’t know you, man”—you kept shouting,
“Professor Fields, goddamn it.”  The next three days
We talked and drank around the clock, the only
Trace of that conviviality, the phrase
“Far fuckin’ out!”  We said it a thousand times,
Late sixties eloquence, we never looked back.
We burned our lives to the rail, in a few years,
You sobered up and in a few more, me too.
From then on we remembered what we said.

You got to Stanford through a pachuco gang
In San Diego, tattoos on the backs of your fingers.
Arrested for stealing a book, you finished high school
In a bad boys joint run by the nuns.  The bookseller
(Later your trade) thought about what you’d done—
He’d never had a thug steal Wallace Stevens,
So he sent you all the Stevens in his store
And In Defense of Reason, strange remorse.
This Winters is smart, you said.  You came to Stanford
Where Uncle Lumpy, as you called him, loved you.
Your master and mine, he called you his wild boy.
One day the dean of men confronted you.
He’d just found out about your tattoos.  “This school
Is a gentleman’s school, and I expect you to act
Like one, at least, and not come back next term.
We’ve never had anyone like you.”  When you told Winters,
He stood up, pushing his chair into the wall,
And stumped across the quad.  “I never knew
What he said to the dean.”  Hell, you know what he said,
“This boy is ten times smarter than you.  He stays”

You only taught the best:  Mrs. Bridge,
Basho’s Narrow Road, Kurosawa,
Chris Marker and Descartes’ Meditations:
“Wrong in every one of them, but read them
Like a French New Novel, narrated by a man
Trying to keep from going mad, and failing.”
You were my only intellectual.
Your charm,
Your beautifully vulgar equanimity,
Brought learning to the table and the street,
“Where the rubber meets the chode,” I hear you laugh,
The rude road Strode rode.  In that quick riff
You’d hear John Ford, Woody, and Sonny Rollins,
And the Duke holding court at The Frontier,
The all-night diner where you said good night.
When you described a round bed with a bedspread
Printed with a target—“it was like ground zero
At a fuckathon”—my wife fell in love with you,
“The funniest man alive.”  And you still are.

“Not too many words between myself
And the world outside,” you wrote.
Well, more than you let on.  A single room
Is overflowing with them, “Some white puff
Just beyond our mouth.”  I want to phone you
When a doctor tells me of a patient complaining
Of fireballs in her universe, another
Suffering immaculate degeneration,
And a man controlling his rage by taking something
He called Hold Off.  But no one’s home.
Gus,
Fireball, immaculate degenerate, you hold off,
You’re somewhere out there, as they say at Acoma
(Simon Ortiz recalls you at Okie Joe’s),
You’re somewhere out there, Gus, or as you’d say it,
(Corazon, baby) you are far fuckin’ out.

Ken Fields