Thursday, April 20, 2017

Remembering Karl Patten

     From my Lewisburg, PA friend, Ruta Karelis, I have recently learned of the April 16  death of my beloved first poetry teacher, Bucknell professor and poet, Karl Patten (1927-2017).  Karl's oft-repeated phrase (and poem title) "Every Thing Connects"  -- found on my shelf in The Impossible Reaches (Dorcas Press, 1992) -- is on my mind daily.  Another poem from that collection -- "The Play" -- I am reading and rereading today, remembering the poet.  Here it is, from Karl Patten, for you.

The Play     by Karl Patten

You're tired?  I'm tired too.  Let's forget we're people, forget all that.

You be a horizon, infinite, flat, a forever-place,
I'll be double, gray-blue ocean, gray-blue sky, touching you, just. 

You be apple-flowers snowing the tree in May.
I'll be pears in the next orchard running over the hill in ranks.

You'll be a book, open, black on white, birdfeet in snow telling a tale,
I'll be two eyes travelling left to right and back, left to right.

You be an estuary, muddy, salt-meadows on your shores.
I'll be a flood-tide bringing news from the full moon.

You be a bottle, greenest of smooth green, stately, very aware,
I'll be the good red wine, knowing I'll die but you'll live.

We'll both be playing at forgetting, forgetting that we're playing.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this poem. I just learned of his death in the most recent issue of Bucknell Magazine. He was my poetry professor, too, way back in '78 and '80, and he impressed me as someone who was so *himself*, so without apology, committed for decades to causes he knew to be righteous. He was a man of integrity. I will also never forget how vigorously and dramatically he smoked cigarettes!