Brad has been writing and publishing poetry for 20-odd years in publications including The Avocet, Bellowing Ark, Blind Man's Rainbow, Clark Street Review, Colere, Modern Haiku, Nomad's Choir, Poetry East, and Willow Review. We are slowly beginning to add his poems to this site. Please keep checking back for more. All poems c. Brad Vickers

POETRY READINGS I'VE ATTENDED IN NEW YORK CITY

i.

I saw Robert Bly,
telling a member of the audience,
who couldn’t hear him, even though,
he was very close to the microphone,
Robert said, “I am not going to speak
any louder than this!
And I am sorry if you cannot hear!
Maybe you should lean forward more,
or use a cotton swab!”

ii.

When I saw
the ever-so-popular, Billy Collins,
the theme was to read from other poets.
So he started to read Emily Dickinson.
When he finished the first poem and before
starting the next, he laughed to himself,
took off his glasses and announced,
“I’m Sorry! My ego is too big.
I have to read one of mine!”
The audience cheered longer than his poem.

iii.

I was sitting with Gerald Stern,
where he was waiting
to go up and read after a young poet,
who was getting deep
into the murkiness of his words.
I asked Gerry if he needed anything,
water or soda. He motioned
to come closer to him and he softly said,
“Yeah! Get me a gun so I can shoot this guy!
He’s terrible! Bad poetry! Awful!”

iv.

I was listening to Joy Harjo read,
Which was darn near close to perfection.
She ended her reading by singing “acappella”
A pretty song with one word, “love.”

v.

I saw Stanley Kunitz
when he was ninety-seven,
three years before he died.
And without any introduction,
he slowly walked up the staircase,
leading to the stage and without
help of a cane, walked soft and easy
to the podium.
He was greeted with
such ear-deafening applause,
that I never heard any poet,
before or after, receive.
He tapped the microphone gently and said,
“Hi, I’m Stanley Kunitz!”
And at that moment, he lived forever.

QUESTIONING WHO AND WHAT I AM

There may be something wrong with me —
maybe f**ked-up. You see,

I am an American, white, man,
who makes a living playing and singing
African/American Blues.

I am an American, white, man,
who reads American Indian history
and literature.

I am an American, white, man,
who reads Spanish, Chicano, and Latino
poems and stories.

I am a Scot-Irish, British, American, white, man.
who loves Gypsy music
and their life.

I am a Scot-Irish, British, American, white, man,
who wishes to live with Aborigines in Australia,
and all peoples of Oceania —
live with reclusive African tribes – live along the
Arctic Circle with Laplanders, Siberians, and Inuits.

I am a Protestant, Scot-Irish, British, American, white, man,
who feels the pain of the Holocaust, reads the “Torah” and the
“Holy Bible” along with the “Anam Cara” and the “Bhagavad-Gita”,
while all the while wishing the return of The Goddess.

I am a Protestant, Scot-Irish, British, American, white, man,
wanting to live with Afghani, Iraqi, and Syrian families
and trying with them to memorize the “Qur’an” as did Sayyid al Huffaz.

I am a Protestant, Scot-Irish, British, American, white, man,
who loved Pope John II, loves the Dalai Lama, adored the joyous
Desmond Tutu, feels the wisdom of the ancient Taoists —
the wisdom of Siddartha Guatama, reads ancient Chinese River
and Mountain poetry, reads ancient Japanese Haiku and Haibun,
feels all Southeast Asian, Sanskrit, and Tamil literature,
reads the ecstatic poems of the Hindus and Sufis, loves Rumi,
Hafiz, Kabir, and Ghalib, reads Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Norse
mythology, understands Theosophy, mystic insight, and anthroposophy,
understands the Kabbalah, the Maharishis, and the Sufi Dervishes,
Myrza Husayn-Ali and Baha’i, Gurdjieff, and Steiner, along with
Unitarianism, Emerson and Thoreau, and the Trancendentalists,
understands the Mali Dogon and the Pawnee looking skyward,
understands Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, and understands
the Native American Church.

I am a Protestant, Scot-Irish, British, American, white, man,
who curses my European ancestors
for wanting empires.

I am a Protestant, Scot-Irish, British, American, white, man,
who curses “Man”
for introducing prejudice and racist thought.

Now that I have told you I am this man,
maybe there is nothing wrong with me,
maybe I am not f**ked-up – maybe mankind is more complicated –
maybe I am a man, a woman — or still a child.

A DAY AT HOME DURING MANY MONTHS
OF THE CORONAVIRUS


From my hillside home
I breathe with the river below.
Every breath is caught
on rocks
grazed by water and fish.

The hill lifts the trees and plants
closer to the stars
I watch them grow before my eyes.

Bones spotlessly cleaned of fur
of an unknown mammal,
are scattered around my yard
by things of the woods
that come out at night.

My ears are exposed to a driving wind
that is not visiting
the road to my house.

My mind often wants to understand
the silence that stands around
waiting to speak.

BURNING LEAVES, 1962

My father and I
would take the cremation of leaves
that were in small metal buckets
over to the dead garden
and spread their ashes
over the sand-colored grass and vines.

My father would say the quickest of eulogies,
“This will make the coming Spring and Summer green.”

Fifty-eight years later it is Autumn again
and I now live in a new era
of speedy leaf blowers with trailers
quickly carting leaves away,
not leaving much time to rake up a past —
my childhood Autumn — a season of rituals:

The meticulous raking of ankle-deep leaves
that the north wind shook off the branches
of our trees and hedges.
We stored them in tall reed baskets
like Egyptian urns, then watched over them
like sentry guards.
We waited for windless days
to haul them to the top of the driveway
and shape them into mounds.
Then I would watch my father
sprinkle lighter fluid like the “holy water”
of an old gentle priest.
Then he would strike the long wooden match
that made red flames dance
in a Dervish frenzy.
We would then stand guard again over the mound
until it becomes a pile of white ash.

During every Autumn my eyes would tear
from the smoke of burning leaves.
The inside walls of my nose
stung like iodine on a wound.

But it didn’t stop
the overwhelming joy I had —
A young boy helping his father.

MY ONE AND ONLY SUNSHINE

When the sun shines on a beach,
the souls of rock and stone simmer.
Their volcanic hotnesss deeply massages
the naked body.

When the sun shines on a tree,
shade swings from branch to branch,
creating a room to sit in.

When the sun shines on me,
my blood — part animal, part man —
swims with light, sings with light,
even in the darkness.

THE ASS AND THE PACHYDERM
(A folktale For Americans)


On a remote island,
far away from the rest of the world,
lived a large population of humans
with only two animals:
the ass and the pachyderm.
They shared a peaceful co-existence
where both animals took turns
serving the community.

The ass gave rides to the children,
the elderly and the poor.
It stood patiently for artists
as they draped their easels
over the animal’s back
so they could paint landscapes.
The ass passionately listened
to musicians and singers.
Actors and poets paid homage to it.

The pachyderm helped the businesses and commerce.
It transported goods and cargo,
it helped clear land for new enterprises.
It was very patient with all industrial activities
and never forgot how to please the corporates.

But as the years passed,
the ass and pachyderm
became old and tired
and were failing to serve
the community well.

The public became disappointed.
Soon it was discovered
That another animal had been living on the island;
a chicken.
It was strong and healthy
but it could never provide
the service of the ass and pachyderm.
At most it could only feed a few
with its eggs.

The people took this as a sign
to become independent — to
help find a rooster for the hen — to
work towards managing
upcoming flocks that would bring comfort
in knowing that if their arts and businesses failed,
at least there would be food for thought.

The island now celebrated the chicken
and all were happy.

But one day it was reported that frogs
were appearing along the shoreline.
Not your everyday frogs, but talking frogs.
They were annoying to some people.
Seems they only wanted to talk
about things green.

FOCUSED

It’s a beautiful day in my backyard.
The cat rolls on its back,
bathing in rays of the sun
and waiting for the purple finch
that baths in the cat’s domain.

The song of the purple finch
announces its joy in life,
as the cat creeps around the birdbath
in the joy of the hunt.

Two opposite joys in the same moment.

From sun-up to sun-down
the purple finch will sing,
and throughout the many mornings to come
the cat will wait for it,
whether it’s the same bird or not.

THE ENCOUNTER

“I am here for you!” A voice whispers,
as I look out onto the horizon,
covered in the green of tree crowns.
I am standing on the upper deck of my home,
looking to see where the voice comes from.

I couldn’t tell if it was human or animal,
as I hear the whispering voice
trail off into the distance.

Later tonight in my silence,
I will call on “The Graces” and “The Muses.”
With pen and paper I will ask which one
had whispered to me, then,
ask the availability of marriage.

AT THE EDGE OF SOME MARSHLAND

The monstrous act of winter — cold,
echoing through cavernous trees,
comes to an end.

Surrounding the marshland, ice patches
lie about like broken panes of glass.
Some, smashed into little shards,
reflect in the sunlight as would
stars in the night sky.

At the edge of a season, a door opens,
windows lift, and huge energy,
restless and determined, comes in.
It cleans house.

At the edge of the water, beaks, snouts, and whiskers,
untangle reeds and wild grass
from their sleep.

A fly emerges.

Flowers open.

Then it begins.

THE WIND AND THE EAGLE

The wind is at war.

Like an axe it tries
to split a rock.
It tries to raise sand;
move mountains.
It tries to make waves;
pummel the earth.

The eagle leaves its nest
to be with his brother, the wind.
Its wings will embrace it.
All will be calm.