A John Perlman letter, 1969

A new poem. This grew out of our talk at the top of the hill. Went up there to finish it. The analogy is again musical. Section I: Prelude etc. Section II - a discordant, as a potential of all wishing and an assumed split: the loss of primal; ie, present sympathy. The music , then, homeopathic: as such only partially developmental.
Hope you like it - please advise.

Pattern and Potential

These cold rocks, out-
crop. Dark basaltic
bed. And the pattern:
intrude, up-lift, fold
and firm.

       We climbed
above the valley, above
a mud marsh, beyond new
humus, footing lost on leaves and moss.
Then we sat, tossing twigs
down the hillside,
letting our hearts a slow.

We talked of a city, rhythmical.
In counterpoint, harmonious
with this hill, a solidity
of moment. Of the two
as fused motion, both
thereby, in a realm, human,
              And memory:
a herd of sheep
driven slowly from a hill,
thru a clipped pasture land,
to the outer reaches
of the passable roads.

In a sullen vision
of dead trees, there is
a footpath leading
to a lake. Stunted bluegill
overrun its shallows,
and algae, passive
as drifting barges,
ride the flat water.
By mid-summer
it closes solid below the sun.
The air suspends
like a single blow
on a slack drum.
A man, sentimental, dreaming, ill-at-ease.

We had all marched singing,
theatrical, from the forest,
sun on the treetops,
dusk in the valley.
Thru the dark, we had seen
the granite moving
at the cliff side.
Within the outer range
of the thick oaks
and the clustering brush,
it seemed our cooking fire
had re-kindled, that each twig snapping
was a following fire.

Speaking at the hill crest.
Between, a single motion.
Of things made
for a making future
from a dense present.
Of pattern: in hollows
of stone, moss
to staunch a wound;
twigs come to a stop
below the cool hills
and closing rock.
Of men, gathering at dusk
around a fire
seen from a hill
through a rhythm of branches.

John Perlman


  1. Claudia,

    I am intrigued by that "The music, then, homeopathic" line: the idea that in the disease (the "discordant")lie the healing properties presumably to be found in the following verses. Resoration of an original "wholeness" seems to be the intended effect.

    I wonder if Samperi commented on Perlman's piece.

  2. And ... "a fire / seen from a hill / through a rhythm of branches." Wonderful! A vision of the wholeness Conrad speaks of—both now and primeval. An extraordinary poem....

  3. this is REALLY nice to see/read ...

    tears in eyes adds to the .... 'karma'

    (to USE a '60's attitude/word that (for me)
    lifted certain poets upandoutside of
    the main-stream drivel

    iswhatwerightnow,need. thanks for the "re:connect"

  4. Thank you gentleman for your comments.
    Maybe John will share my father's letter and we can see if he commented on the poem.


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