NOB HILL FLYING STAR--I ran into Dave Johnson yesterday afternoon. His new book of poems Rebirth of Wonder has just come out from UNM Press. I have known Dave for about 25 years...ever since I took a poetry writing class from him. He has been an important figure in the New Mexico poetry scene for longer than that.
This book concentrates on the spiritual and physical journey of a preacher's kid from Minnesota who ended up a poet-philosopher in Albuquerque.
Here is a poem from the book.
Patriarch in the Midwest
Where grandfather dipped his pen I burn incense. His inkwell
a bronze pagoda laced with oriental trees and fern.
Winged serpents crawl along the tray, a butterfly etched in the roof
waits to rise with the smoke of sandalwood.
Grandfather was a dragon from the north whose nature rejected
the mystical East, the solitary path to Nirvana.
Jehovah wasn't a breath from within, but a force like a winter storm.
Sin could destroy the household or locusts reap the harvest.
Did Scandinavians travel too far inland losing sight of the sea?
All that snow filling the hollows in a man's mind.
Grandfather talked to God in English and Norwegian, like engagingAs if words could finally cut clear between good and evil.
the captain of a ship. His sermons charted the open spaces,
From his pulpit in Minnesota Grandfather could see the ocean.