Monday, February 14, 2011

Dead Lynx Off a Trapline

Dead Lynx Off a Trapline

Across every river
I dream two men
eating a tug of war
of buffalo intestines.

The absolution I crave
is heavy with wet snow
from a Pacific storm.
The ice thins midstream.
I see swirls while
a woman guitars
a prayer made
of beaver hides.


This poem first appeared in the mid-1970's in Poetry Now, published and edited by E.V.Griffth.  Having a poem in Poetry Now was hot stuff back then.  Most of the leading poets of that era published their best writing in that magazine, which was really a poetry tabloid in competition with American Poetry Review.

Griffith was something of a recluse... living in Eureka, California, in the land of redwoods, far from the centers of literary power.  He edited a number of journals, including Hearse and Coffin.  As a young man, Griffith studied with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and fiction writer Robert Penn Warren.  Griffith tried his hand at both poetry and short fiction, but, finally, saw himself as an editor.  But in 1963 Griffith published a short story in Playboy.  Some fellow asked Griffith what his writing was doing in such a "pornographic" magazine... and Griffith asked the man what he was doing looking through that journal. 

In those years, I restlessly drove the country.  Every so often I would show up at Griffith's home on K Street in Eureka for a long night of drinking and talking poetry.  In the summer of 1975, after my wife Kate and I had wintered in central British Columbia, we rented a disused pentecostal meeting house in Fields Landing, just south of Eureka.  We were off our luck... and Griffith made sure that we didn't starve.  E.V. Griffith was a great editor and a true friend to many a poet, including me.

Stanford University Libraries hold the E.V. Griffith Archive. 

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