Poetry: Garrett Caples

Richard O. Moore Imagined as a Bob Dylan Song

as a child back in ohio
they gambled for my toys
they loaded up a pick up truck
with my relatives and tore
off for another part of america
leaving me behind
in a county home in L.A.
for the orphaned & the blind

i learned to be invisible
a naked camera eye
a lamppost by a lighthouse
an antenna in your side
i wasn’t made for handgrenades
i was made for making signs
i heard the noise behind each word
the notes in every sigh

i met railroad poets, potentates
rock royalty, potential mates
posers & composers & fate
decreed i orchestrate
experience through templates
executives could tolerate
if it came in underbudget
& within the bounds of taste

they kicked me offa campus
& i quit a couple jobs
i made penicillin for the willing
shooting movies for the mobs
still my poems followed me
like undomesticated dogs
the world was all that was the case
in my arguments with god

at first devoid of virtue
& lastly cleansed of pride
i flouted death’s selection
by accidentally surviving
but she still lives inside of me
a creature without form
on the pages of my yesterdays
i’ll keep tomorrow warm

This poem is a miniature biography of San Francisco Renaissance poet and filmmaker Richard O. Moore, whose first book, Writing the Silences, appeared in 2010 from the University of California and whose second book, Particulars of Place, will appear from Omnidawn in 2015. Why it took the form of a Bob Dylan song, I can’t say; it just came to me that way. The melody is somewhere between “Shelter from the Storm” and “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.”

CaplesAuthorPhoto3Garrett Caples is the author of two full-length collections, The Garrett Caples Reader (Black Square, 1999) and Complications (Meritage, 2007). A book of essays, Retrievals, has just appeared from Wave Books, which also published his pamphlet, Quintessence of the Minor (2010). A contributing writer to the San Francisco Bay Guardian, he is the poetry editor at City Lights Books and curator of the Spotlight Poetry Series. With Nancy Joyce Peters and Andrew Joron, he also edited The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia (UC Press, 2013).