December 9, 2009

Max’s Musings

maxBy Max Molleston

A mix of blessings this December. We can become grateful for the smallest things that come our way. In Rhoada and my case it is twin girls our daughter Missy introduced into their world in early October.

One Christmas, when I was ten, I requested comic books and got ten dollars worth, presented to me in a big cardboard box and counted into the dozens. My reading and imagination lived on for months, based on Superman and the rest with Walt disney stuff that was in comic books at the time creating all kinds of funny moments. Elmer Fudd and his array of characters that animator Chuck Jones created.

Remember smaller gifts this month. A poem or story you know and can relate to your children and their children as part of your life or lives they did not know, as part of family history that needs the light of day, if you or your mate can’t get active in the memoir vein. All the time I am relating these things, we may take a trip to support the Iowa Hawkeye football team.

I have been reading from a great collection, very complete of poets of the last century, the twentieth. Just packed with poets and their work. One I have read about most recently, in connection with her exchange of letters with longtime friend and often companion, the poet Robert Lowell. Her name is Elizabeth Bishop. Publication of their written exchanges is about a year old now revealing more about this man and woman than most previously known. It might make a forty-dollar Christmas present. It is hard to know about poets, or writers for that matter. Very much an individual. Very closed at writing, not secretive but closeted while the process takes place. For some clarity, Elizabeth Bishop lived from 1911 to 1979. A wonderful invention titled Man-moth, which began as a misprint of the word mammoth, in a newspaper story. Bishop was very contemplative in her inventions, a factor many poets cannot muster. They can see and interpret with some arrangement of words, but pure invention is a skill escaping lots of poets. I would put myself in the see and write category, and just wish I could invent like Bishop and other of her ilk. Here are a few stanzas from her wonderful rhyming invention titled Roosters.

It begins:

At four o’clock
in the gun-metal blue dark
we hear the first crow of the first cock

just below
the gun-metal blue window
and immediately there is an echo

off in the distance,
then one from the back-yard fence,
then one with horrible insistence,

grates like a wet match
from the broccoli patch
flares, and all over town began to catch.


deep from raw throats
a senseless order floats
all over town. A rooster gloats

over our heads
from rusty iron sheds
and fences made from old bedsteads,

over our churches
where the tin rooster perches,
over our little wooden northern houses,

Making sallies
from the muddy alleys
marking our maps like Rand-McNally’s

These rhyming, power-packed three line stanzas go on for a couple more pages delving into history and mirth of this simple act that has been with humanity for, if not an eon, centuries into a murky past which seems to tell us little about ourselves and more about dinosaurs and rooster-style runners on the land. Then again, there will be oodles of books on dinosaurs available to our children, but aren’t they already on library shelves and book stores in dozens? Our wish for the month of merriment is for your attitude as one of forgiving and helpfulness and love for the lives we and others are bound to live around us, and ahead of us. Join me for something in 2010 next month, right here.