Tuesday, December 12, 2017

JTR III Today You Would Be 75

JTRIII, Taken at Bay State Road, Boston, Fall 1970
Today you would be 75

Oh, Jack
You changed my life
Turned it upside down
& right-side up
So glad I took that job
At Allen Bookoff Studios
On 25th Street, Baltimore

Passionate lovers
Wild lovers
Clumsy lovers
Brilliant and Brittle
Such bad lovers
Inept, uncertain
So unknowing of how
Of what
Outcast, bred out of our love
Our need to love each other
Yet love we did

The poetry
The Art
You awoke the me in me
Bursting with a quest for
Movies became cinema
Books, discovery tours
Music, centuries old
Brand new
Fluid and explosive
 Dancing with rhythms
I knew not before
No longer just
 teenage mating calls

Personally, sexually
Still forming social selves
We still had, like cooking
Housekeeping, to learn
How, and who, to love
So mired in religion to know
The book of love unwritten
Stumbling, while escaping, running
Down the forbidden path

Destroying lives
In soap opera drama
Throwing out the order of things
Babies thrown aside
Women, mothers scored
And scorning, admired, loved, scorning
As un  that which is our nature

Joy Street in Boston
Home of the Appalachian Club
House of bishops
In the Shadow of the State House
And the Whorehouse
Where black suited government workers
spent lunch & breaks
Across from the Red Shed of Kennedy studios
Our last attempt to live together
The battles raged
The chair, the beautiful art nouveau chair
So lovingly restored
So powerfully broken over my back
The police called,
Calming us down, not intervening
In domestic affairs until tragedy happened
Their kindness keeping us from bodily harm
The injury replaced with sorrow
That we could not
Control the flood

Setting sail apart
To Washington for you
For me Pittsburgh, Newburyport
And North, ever North

Always, brothers in love
The thick and the thin
Nourished and whetted
We were too much
And not enough
For each other                                                     

John Tyler Ricketts III 1942-2011

st. jean 1973

50  years Ago
So glad I took that job

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Harassment on High

Funny Man

sit-com society,
On a Jerry Springer stage
Society scorns sanctified sex roles
Honed for years, for eons
Since the finger first pointed to Eve
In the common legend
Now points at men
Who played the game
Set for them, even in jest

Now fingers point
One step from picking up the stone
First to toss at the culprit
Madwomen armed in a hotel room
frazzled femininity a high-heeled cause

While the Chief Finger
Know of tiny hands
Tweet venom to male and female alike
Lynching up with his little round mount
And prissy voice, the judgment of the king

Changing capitals of tiny kingdoms
To appease his commanding worshiping godmen
Fitfully bringing apocalypse they so adore
Wishing holy hell on the sinful poor
Holy Richeousness Pensive with bright—eyed hate
Saint Donald, the Revelator
Dancing on the pole
Nailing the cross of Jerusalem

                                                                                                                                Christmastide 2017
Media Fanning the Flames of Miscontent
(aka Forked Tongue Fox)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Mother Eats her Son

"My darling monkeyboy, Momma loves you so much I could just eat you all up."
12" x 15" x 2", Enameled, foiled cardstock  June 2016

Lyrics from a traditional Traditional Sephardic song after the Lamentations of Jerimiah, translated by Hamete Benengeli

Una Madre Comio Asado (a Mother Roasted Her Child):

And a mother roasted
and ate her cherished son

“Look at my eyes, mother.
I learned the law with them

Look at my forehead, mother
I wore the phylacteries there

Look at my mouth, mother:
I learned the law with it.”

Lyrics from a traditional Traditional Sephardic song after the Lamentations of Jerimiah, translated by Hamete Benengeli

From an interview with the composer, Osvaldo Golijov :
“That’s another incredible thing.  I said,  “What is this?”  How can one come up with a lyric like this?  “A mother roasted her cherished son, and then the son says:  ‘Look at my eyes, mother, I learned the Torah with them.  Look at my mouth I learned the law with it.”
”It alludes to the Lamentations of Jeremiah, which basically says:   Look at the city that stood so proud, and now mothers are eating their children.  That’s what happens when war ravages a region.  To me the marriage of these words and the beautiful melody are tremendous.” 

Here are links to two versions of this song, the first, w/Dawn Upshaw singing Golijov's adaption, the second of Sephardic origin by The Renaissance Singers.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Kitchen of Words

A Poem

is a recipe
a list
 of ingredients
some savory
some sweet
a spicy twist of ideas
to pause the heart
ignite the mind
breathe air, rise and fall

baked, fried
raw or wrapped
stir quickly
 slow cooked
to enhance, enrich
the wholeness
the reasons
of Life

3 August 2017  jmf-w

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Invention of Time

A Poem written, lost, and found again, seemed to belong to these works which I'd done during the spring & summer of 2015:

A Feather on the Breath

Time, discovered, devised
To understand the circle of day and night
The hours
The motions
The minutes
We created
watching the movements
of seasons
of stars, of planets
time to reap, time to sow
To fit our life, our time

Creating gods in our image
And his time in ours

Is not hours, is not minutes, days, weeks years
It steps far beyond our meager span
God we found immeasurable
But still he is ours

Time we name it
Expands far beyond
Far beyond where our mortal selves
Can fit

To have that
For a minute or 144 hours
24 of rest
The mind lingers in wonder
or runs in fear
Is to have eternity
In the palm of the hand
In the breath of a moment
In the
An eye

April 2016 - July 2017

Work 2:  Seeking the Red Dwarf

Sketch:  Blue Tape blocking for two paintings above Spring 2015

Monday, July 24, 2017

Enemy, A Memory Poem, Spring/Summer 1974

Theseus and the Minotaur.  from Pompeii, Museum of Italy, Naples


We gauge ourselves by ideals
Beholding our noble nature as a guide
For us and all humankind

Then came you

Then the lawful turned lawless
passion resorts to pain
Love to lust
no regard to reason, to wisdom
To evil or to good
just the desire for the taste of blood

Such were you, a specter
I do not recall how or when we met
At the 7’s maybe, the Gardens, Stone Soup
But the attraction was there

Magnetic, hypnotic
I don’t think we ever spoke
I know not the sound of your voice
Yet, I’d know you
In a crowd, I’d know
50 years later

It was primal, like sex
But it was not
We both wanted to do
Instinctive opposite
You the dark, eyes and hair
I, blonde, blue eyed, fair
Not good  not bad
caused us to chase each other
In the black midnight
Down the alleys of Beacon Hill
And there between Brimmer & Charles
Below the towering Advent steeple
silent cop car, spotlight
enclosed in our lethal
just as we’d caught each other
the police slammed us against their car
i can still feel their sexual frisk
Grilled us with questions, accusations
Commanded, sternly, kindly, strangely
to go
One south, one north
And not, not to meet again
I walked in the lone blacken streets
not one mortal soul about
Far far into the quiet night
Circling beyond Mass General
To return to my Russell Street home

Months later, in the heat of summer
we did meet again
In a distant seaside town
Our radar detecting blocks away
switched sides to avoid that
Eyes locked, vulpine
until we could see no more
the passion a pinhole in our eyes

                                                                         j.m. frase-white,  July 2017

Monday, July 17, 2017

At the VA Hospital, White River Junction

Visions of Warriors, 5th of July 2017
Overheard in the Eye Clinic
Veterans Hospital, White River Junction

Three today, with attentive companions
The first came in with a demonstrative blond
Like a wife, maybe too young, as old as I, a daughter?
”I’m going to the bathroom, don’t do anything,” she commanded.
He remained mute, nodding, his mind
Like his one eye, behind a patch, elsewhere
Away from her loud pecking voice
Upon returning she snatched
The newspaper from his hands
Glares at the headlines and bellows
“That Trump is just out looking for a fight!”

A bit later handsome white haired man is wheeled in
Wearing shorts, sporting a baseball hat
The same color as his smooth sun-tanned skin
He begins chatting with this nursemaid, a lovely lady,
Raven hair, pulled back in a neat tail
Reminding him, teasing him gently, about his service
Joking, “That was the First World War?”

He laughs, says “No, they are all gone now.”
His story unfolds in their chatter
18 years old sent off to Belgium, then Germany, on the front line
Defeat soon follows
A visit, 100 miles from Berlin, the Camp
The concentration camp, bodies piled up
“You don’t know what I’ve seen.”
His voice hushes, an audible tremble, unveiling a dark secret,
“There piles of bodies, and living skeletons, women, little children, shriveled men.”
He hung his head, all were quiet . . .

The nurse asks if he misses New York
He tells her tales of civilian life, a policeman
On the horse patrol in Manhattan
He takes his vacations in February
With his ski-loving wife, to Stowe
now his retirement home

Another man is wheeled in,
He is smaller than the tanned veteran
His skin marble white, as are his polo shirt
His shorts, ironed air-force blue
His legs linen white, almost the color of
His white sporty shoes
his daughter says
He too was in the Great War, in the Pacific
Flying in scientists to assess the effects
biological, and chemical, the bounty
Of flattened Hiroshima
But he is silent, wearing dark eyeglasses
 as she describes his life
ascertaining that both solders
are 91, both Leo
Born in August

The man with the patch, we find is 92
A veteran of Korea, the blonde daughter tells us
“And that’s where is is all going to start again,
That crazy war.  Daddy, your ready to go back?” She brays
 the room, again
She slides in front of the two in wheelchairs
 perches on a bench
Directly between the two, says to the tanned tall man
“did you fight Hitler’s soldiers?”
Incredulity and challenge in her voice

oblivious to the stories he’s told
obscured from her ears
Tho’ she’d been sitting on the side
Much nearer than I, across the room

Listening as if to a play on stage
He repeated his tale, “18, Belgium, Berlin . . . concentration camps.”
“Did you know Hitler was Jewish?” she belts out accusingly
“I heard that too.” The nurse confirms.
A med tech comes, calls the name of the Horse soldier
He is rolled out, down the hall
Moments later, another calls the Korean one-eyed vet
Daughter commandeers steering him, by arm, down the hall

The silent Airman, perks up, laughs
Announces to the room, talking to himself
“It was beginning to sound like the barroom at the VFW.”

Months earlier
In the same room
I listened to two other vets
 from the conscripted  war of my era
the one on the right, dressed in sporty clothes
bearing the sunshine health of one who has
spent hours on the green
taking the lead in the conversation
he ascertains their brotherhood in
 the Tet offensive
The other vet, two seats away
After initial contact
 kept his head down
As if studying the floor
Anything below the level of eyes
He wears well-worn clothes, like him
Deprived of sleep, wakeful, worrisome
His skin colored by closed doors
From florescent overheads, and dim barrooms

The successful man, begins his tale
A radar tech, enclosed upon an isle
Identifying, directing the bombing mission
upon enemy lines
and incoming from over there
his fear the natives on the island would
his fortification find

the other man, looks up briefly
and says “I know I was on the line,
on the river, soaked in sweat and mud
 bombs raining down on us.”
In his voice gravel, the terror still there
We could feel it in the room
The mud, the green explosive land
The water soaking, the smell of Sulphur and of blood
Gritted in his voice
He cast his eyes back down and listened
The enclosed soldier
Went on, defining danger from afar
In the living room of war
But having heard the combat voice
The visions burst our ears
In this room we know
This embattled soldier
Relives combat daemons each day
Hell is Manmade here on earth
A heroic death the godly lie
of happy-ever-after daze
the plot the master weaves
it is he who has the power upon this earth
his name in history to  lie


The warrior who has been in battle knows where Jesus lies: there ain’t no land of glory.