Saturday, January 17, 2015

Poem: Ode to David Simpson

 I stumbled upon an article about the poet David Simpson, who, along with his twin brother, Dan, was born premature and blind. David is an excellent poet and was the Montgomery County Poet Laureate in 2007.

I was shocked to learn that he's been diagnosed with ALS.

David Simpson is a common name. Will the poet please stand up?

Read this post David wrote about his singing and his professional organ playing.

From a blog post,

Dave pulled the microphone closer to him and began by saying, “As most of you in this room already know, about a year ago I was diagnosed with ALS.”   We did know.  Despite having a lost some of the vivacity and strength of vocal inflection characteristic of his readings, Dave read in a clear voice that reached everyone’s ears.  After reading half a dozen poems, he would need to stop and catch his breath taking drinks of water from the bottle that Ona handed him.

David is always surrounded by a retinue of fans, just as when I first met him at Barnes & Noble. I saw him a couple other times. Certainly for the Poet Laureate Award Ceremony at Arcadia College.

I met his mother at that time. She had just remarried. She was about 80 years old. She's a religious person. Dunno about David or his brother, Dan. 

Saw him at a poetry reading at the Elkins Park Library. We hugged and I'm sure I told him "I love you." Because I do!

I sent him an email but it bounced.

Martha and Carly, from my Writer's Group, gave me good feedback for the poem I wrote for him.

Wonder why I want it to reach him?


Remember those Sunday mornings we would spend together
on the phone?
I’d met you once at the Barnes and Noble and asked you
to be my Homer, blind poet that you are, never to see
the beauty of your own long graying ponytail
or the gray in your pebbled King Lear eyes.

I saw you and loved you immediately, immensely,
your court crowded round, you the
Nestor in Achilles’ tent.

You were a student of Sharon Olds and
taught me the phrase, “You’ve got to kill
off your darlings.”

Do you remember, David, the poem I wrote called
“White Eyelet Cover” about a comforter I bought
at a garage sale, and used that very day.
I am not afraid of germs. It smelled like bleach.
In my poem, I casually mention I change my
fitted sheets once every three months –
a line that aroused your interest.

You and I were on the clock, my time, a wind-up kitchen timer I
set on the carpet next to my poetry and cup of coffee,
the porcelain cup a gift from a manic-depressive named Sue, your gift
the sound of your voice, murmuring as the swell of
ocean waves at Cape May.

Later when I said it was our last phone date, you asked
"Was it anything I did?"
"No," I said. "I just can't afford you anymore."
And killed you off, my darling. 

And now, a fellow poet tells me you’ve found a girl. I’m happy
for you, David, a fifty-year-old man who never had babies.
The world, you told me, is not made for the blind.

Can you imagine the kind of love a blind poet would make? The laying
on of hands. The immense sighs.

A postscript attends this ode. I have learned, poet Simpson,
you have just married, and have been diagnosed with one of the
dread diseases of our age.

Use your time well. Know that after you’re gone, your memory
will remain firm as my backyard maple whose leaves are
scattered across the lawn.  

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