Poem by Thomas Gagnon


 

Father and Son

His paperweight tells me: co-founder of UM/B.
He bought the Cajun street-singer’s CD.
(How and why did a Cajun
land in red-brick Cambridge?)
He told me, there’s a paper at OCBC
you could write for. I’ve met the editor.
A good woman, and smart. You would like her.
And she liked my reviews (but I look back and wonder,
did I have the right to write there?)

Yes, he had virtues, but it’s the silliness I recall.
Instead of Captain and Tenille, Captain and Toenail.
(Or a joke cast a probable aspersion,
like “Cary Grunt” or “Audrey Heartburn.”)
Instead of “simmer,” he coined—from where?—“geburgle”
but the rule: his jokes had within them criticism.
About a democratic practice in ancient Athens
once vaunted at UM/B, he made the goofy statement,
“Canadians couldn’t vote”—humor with an accusation.

I launched accusations like a thousand warships,
wittily written but no leaven, is my suspicion.
He said, you could make a career in film criticism.
I looked from some hazy place inside me
to the focus of my father’s eyes,
the in-earnest of his eyes.

 

At first, Thomas Gagnon published articles, reviews, and essays for small Boston newspapers. Upon reading The Book of Hours: Prayers to a Lowly God by Rainer Maria Rilke, Gagnon wrote poetry as well. He has published poetry in disability-related magazines, such as Breath & Shadow. In 2011, he self-published a collection of poems, Pop Poetry, in which he combined traditional poetry forms with the rhyme and rhythm of the pop song. Currently, Gagnon is involved in mental health advocacy and recovery, and he is re-working a novel concerning the ambitions and troubles of a young man with bipolar disorder.

Judson Evans is a full-time Instructor in the Liberal Arts department at The Boston Conservatory at Berklee where he has taught a range of courses, from a Poetry Workshop on haiku, prose poetry and haibun, to a course on theories of cave art and the role of the cave in ritual and philosophy. In 2007 he was chosen by John Yau as an Emerging Poet for The Academy of American Poets. He was one of the founding members of Off the Park Press, and published work in each of its three anthologies responding to provocative contemporary painters. His most recent work has been published in (print journals) Laurel Review, Folio, Volt; 1913: a journal of forms; and Green Mountains Review, and (online journals) White Whale Review and Amethyst Arsenic. He won The Phillip Booth Poetry Award from Salt Hill Review in 2013. He has collaborated with composers, such Mohammed Fairouz, Mart Epstein, and Rudolf Rojhan, who set several of his poems to music, as well as with choreographers, dancers, musicians and other poets, including Gale Batchelder, and videographers Nate Tucker and Ray Klimek.

 

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