Joan Logghe said that men and women inhabit each other like undergarments. "He wears me and I wear him."
—Rice, page 72
I’ve been going through my 2007 journal, collecting bits and pieces of scribbling that might be a poem, and I found this note re: Joan Logghe’s Rice (Tres Chicas, 2004). The book is a collection of 74 regular-looking and untitled sonnets broken into 8 and 6 stanzas. JB Bryan sent me the book as a gift (he with Renée Gregorio designed it) several years ago. It's truly a handsome book, but I’m not a fan of sonnets, Joan is a student of Robert Bly and that whole root of the poetry tree doesn’t turn me on, so it must have sat around my house for a year before I even bothered to thumb through it. When I did I immediately enjoyed random poems and then over the next week or so read the book from cover to cover. This is not a usual habit of mine. I have poetry books that I’m reading scattered all around my house and office. But I loved Rice. It documents a rough patch in her long marriage. Her husband of many years (they have three grown children together) is attracted to another woman, they are on the fulcrum of their lives, the rest of which, as we all know, is downhill making its way toward the sea. So, in part, the sonnets read like a narrative, but they also carry with them of histories of old friends (Jim Sagel dies in one of the poems) in the post-Hippie life of northern New Mexico, ruminations on geology and poetics and food and poems and her Jewish heritage and Buddhist practice and all the stuff that goes into a life of making poems and a family and dinner and a history of one’s own. The poems ring in concert with many of my own feeling about living a life out here. Lee Byrd, who doesn’t read a lot of poetry, grabbed the book when I was done and likewise read it from cover to cover. We both heartily recommend it.
Below I will add the sonnet which is on page 54. Probably not the best in the book (whatever that means, and for who), but it discusses her writing of sonnets and she populates the poem with her dead men friends. One of them was a friend of mine, the late artist and sculptor and poet Bill Gersh. Hell, I probably only spent 8 hours with Bill during the time I knew him, but he was one of those guys, if he knew you, spilled his life into yours with enormous pleasure. In the early 1990s I had a DH Lawrence Fellowship and so was blessed with spending the summer at the DH Lawrence Ranch at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains just north of Taos. Bill invited my son John (he must have been 14 at the time) and I over for dinner in the adobe home he had built himself. The poet Renée Gregorio was there. And, with delicious food and good wine in our bellies, Bill told us the almost epic journey on how he rode his Harley from California to Taos, a beautiful blonde woman wrapping her thighs around him and hugging him close. When he got to Taos, the Harley went kaput, the woman left him, Max Feinstein and the tribe were building New Buffalo and Gersh knew he was home among the longhairs and the Indians and the rural Hispanics and the mountains. The story was beautifully told, funny and sad and righteous, a true insight into the life of an artist in the 1960s. Bill pulled no punches in the telling, and I was delighted Johnny Byrd got to hear the story. 14 years old is a good time to hear such stories. Bill died in 1994 at the age of 51. He was a year younger than me.
By the way, you don’t need to know all these peculiar histories and endnotes to thoroughly enjoy Rice. And Tres Chicas is a collaborative effort of Joan, Renée and Miriam Sagan. The painting above is Gersh's "The Trailblazer" which I found on the artnet website.
Gersh gave me permission to write any kind
of sonnet I want, “Just write a fuckin’ sonnet.”
And Grolnick says in a riff from death, “Go, chick,
go.” And Robert says you’ll never meditate, stop
kidding yourself. And Rick inquires after my health.
Just write a sonnet, forget abba abba cd cd cd.
They all assemble in these fourteen lines,
give me thumbs up. Go ahead, the dead said.
My living love lost his job, cut off all his hair,
drank love in a beer. Wanted to trade romance
in for a new model. Rode off, over there.
I flipped. I did the Change of Life dance, sang
“Growing Old in America” blues. I cried myself down
ten pounds. Weight returns, but the dead cheer me on.