Elegy for Norman Hindley
facts, to be dealt with, as the sea is, the demand
that they be played by, that they only can be, that they must
be played by, said he, coldly, the
By ear, he sd.
But that which matters, that which insists, that which will last,
that! o my people, where shall you find it, how, where, where
shall you listen
when all become billboards, when, all, even silence, is spray-gunned?
Charles Olson “I, Maximus of Gloucester to You”
I. Norman Hindley 1944-2014
my eye that cd denote the hum
of the whales in his
New England whaler’s voice,
Norman’s tuning fork voice – Rhode Island, not Gloucester, Mass –
but still measuring true pitch,
which I saw as water, the sea, oceans lapping and always around me,
the hum of Norman’s voice, a reminder to keep me true,
and now if I cd just,
if I cd only
hear one verse of his uncompleted sea epic
all the way through, then I cd,
yes I think I cd,
play it by ear.
My mother, who drank her German
coffee with cream, dark percolated
witch’s brew, many cups a day,
cd only play the piano
by ear, but she cast lusty and joyful spells upon
the keys. She was enchanted out of her
constricted life. She was Proud
of paying for my piano lessons, $2.50 a week.
Took in ironing to make extra money
her bookkeeper’s job wouldn’t
accommodate. She was Proud
that I learned to read music,
though in those early days I too could Play
by ear. I can’t remember how I lost that talent,
perhaps forgot it in the excitement of Reading
I recognize now that my Reading music and she Not,
began the separation between us.
I also recognize that separation:
the only way for me to
The piano, old, upright, never tuned,
seems to be a marker.
Enchanted, holding its factory
years. Or perhaps my
deficient even then?
thought as progress
to play by ear.
the tuning fork hums, sings
in the night, bright
as the sun, but
my ear doesn’t hear.
or my eyes
blurry. I need to play it by ear,
when it’s dark. Need
the fork. Dig it
out from under the orange
trees. Let it
in my ear.
Forget it, Diane, he’s dead,
no more stanzas to hum
from the waves of his bow, no
letters to his lady, the bow-sprite, but he
was Singing Something he heard,
before he died,
luring him, the mermaids of poetry,
who Sang their
melodies by ear. True. By ear.
Charles Olson, Homer, Jeffers, see-bards,
in their swirling, epic oceans of words,
the eye so paramount to them, the EYE
needed to see the truth,
when the racket of, the Sirens of, the Sounds of
sick mu sick,
racket and cla-mour, drowning out
singularity. He was so close to drowning out
the false. So close.
Slick and dangerously smart Ed
Dorn turned the Eye into I and back again, negated them
both on a desert, neon journey, jukebox shaped like
a bean, calling, cla-mouring, reminding
that even in seeming wilderness, or countries of
the imagination, that we always play it
by ear Everywhere you listen,
sounds must overwhelm.
street names, winter eels, diamond dogs, gunslinger, max-
imus, roan stallions, Achilles’ shield arresting images that
we SEE with our minds,
See. “That which matters, that which insists, will last.”
Olson, you opened my eyes this morning to my old friend, Norman Hindley,
to the bright light tight delight of the loud, glamorous sun, but all
things blurry in this phase. O memory,
take me for
to old sites of truth where Norman used to wander,
where he uncovered t/ruth? something, clear, icy, remote.
Eye am listening to Norman, still present,
his stripped syllables, singular, eloquent, For