Studio of Edwin & Marcia Ward

Friday, March 7, 2014

21 POEMS - Edwin Forrest Ward

21 POEMS - Edwin Forrest Ward


nights without love

I looted unlocked
cars, drunk
stumbled I upon

lookin’ for
a bride tossed garter
I’d lost long ago or a
bow for my broken arrow

in my ransacking ways
I was an indian angel
among the trinkets
of glove box and floor

here a condom, there some gum
aglow on the dashboard
saint someone protects
the plunder from me

I take little, just read signs
recycle debris
these nights without love
make a barbarian of me


aside water pools and water
falls, stone beneath four feet
in places such as this
we pile rocks
scribe names
to make tomorrow weep

carved intaglio, ancient pine
will fall in time upon
assembled spelling stones
eras leave no bone unturned
mountains tremble
chasms yawn
years from now
arrives too soon

love like ours
nights like this
the only countermeasures


the undress of a waitress
in morning
coffee black and cigarettes
the silkiest lounging attire


it ain’t easy
to quiet the world
it ain’t easy
to set the stage right

it’s a tease to look me in the eyes
it’s a tease
to stand in such light

a bureau of cosmetics
a nightstand of books
the lamp off now
the window outside
a dawn bed of flowers

time is a place
a bouquet of earthly locations


death is the dilemma
an epitaph cures

write yours now


it is always morning
flesh against flesh upon
lush carpet in a poem to promises kept
Away Forever Swept


simply said
sun enlightens earth

even the moon needs
sunlight to ride
white across the night

is this not apparent to all?
I wonder
 in these days of art
when upon the face of it
they paint a woman’s flirt
as if the sun were flower

come on! I know
the anatomy of
orchid and fire

who brings light
who is flower


all right, kid
put this in your pocket
with the house keys

she will always be younger
than you
with your ability
to woo
even in the city
where quantity obscures

you’ll find her
smooth face, bright
shiver of light, cupped
flesh in your hands

another key:
what to do with it
her youth and willingness


it wasn’t easy
to give up the many
for monogamy’s one.

I’d slide my eyes along the lie
of every passing female thigh
every woman met, undressed
for what attire conceals
the toss of eye
the hair reveals.

some say the face. some say
the verb of bending. must
needs be unending, the
tangle of reasons for love.


you need no ESP
to sense the strings
we’ve tangled

the physics of the world
strings the astronomical
the small

puppet to puppet
with no puppeteer
we, the lovers, dance.

I am rising
you are rising


quicker. love
puts lead in the foot
the accelerator to the floor

it’s always a
to love


we do everything together.
sleep, cook, eat, shower, water, weed and flower
play, empower, mistake, parent, work, procreate
inspire, desire, conspire
we do everything together.

now she primps as I write.
the perfect lay of dungaree denim
announces her intention
attracts my attention.

my lover has new lucky jeans.
look how well they fit, she says
I’m dressing for sex at the office today.

lucky for me we work together.
lucky for me we do everything together.


upon my knees I look up to see
a diadem of galaxies
vortex the cortex of my love

incredulous she asks
how do we make the sun go up and down?

with our love, as always, with our love


this woman
like a poem needs
another’s hands
to make it tight
the love around the braided hair

for this man
what’s to do?
but tie the knot
or lift the hair
to kiss the face
that love would wear
to see the white light
shining there


love is couscous cake
with lemon curd, the
affections of an afternoon’s kiss
giving up lust for Lent.

love bends an ear to hear
a fantasy to sharpen its
delights against and asks
questions of fidelity
and the trust of just
one name between us.

ah, drive time with my Valentine.
in the back seat, the kids asleep,
and a picnic keeps, as mountain towns
a century golden old ghost by.

the curves along the creek
host an infinity of light
sliced by jagged peaks
as we fly in the face
of a suitcase of facts against us
- we legatees of outlaw mountain lore.

recognize, we do,
the effect the music has on us
as the road follows water through the canyon
while centrifugation creates
our lean of bodies
‘round snakes at fifty-five
and switchbacks at twenty.

we babble our way unto the next
descent and reminisce,
taste the sweat of a hot springs rendezvous
with you, your Pinto winding west
across a valley so high
‘twas lit by stars that moonless night.

one hand upon the wheel I
keep one upon your thigh.
even the most kindred souls
have separate bodies.

even the most kindred souls
have separate bodies.


a ranch relic lust, who but you
o creatrix, could sativa trust?
who but you, shape shaper of silver night?
who but you insights with light?

in a small garden, in a small place
…no, that will never do…
in a valley vast the mother of the harvest fires up
another fecund moment, a full moon swoon
creeping through the groin of earth itself.

children gather ‘round her, their eyes, like
adoring spacecraft.
the moment is the happiness of handing him, the
partner, man
a flower bigger than his dick, bigger than a bird,
bigger than his appetite.

the Pot Queen loves the measure of his delight at
his first sight of it
anticipates the pleasures of the making love he’s
promised her for later.
the Pot Queen attends well, charms again, this
creature she has captured.

her radiance, the pleasure of happy
I am to see you.
her world, one of interested beings
still interested in being.
her taste, the velvet throat of imagination.
her face, the verb to luster.

(for Steve Wilson)

now that steve is back
the plainer poems
dressed like bookman
scouting lawn sales
the ass pocket a jingle
with miniatures of vodka
one shot per slug
rambling a bit to insure
the territory’s covered
before opening the bag
that carries home the pumpkin pie


if everyone believed in ghosts
there’d be no lies
fortune tellers would
be out of business
or in charge of the future
we could nothing to connive
what with all the family watching
we would just have flower gardens
and throw parties
sculpting beautiful statues
of our selves
for our children

if everyone believed in ghosts
there’d be no bad deals
no short weight
and very little conversation
in the government
the pain would slacken
no stiff necks
and love
would be the subject
of our experiments


nobody knows
what he does
inside the trick

he hides the strings
she moves his hands


it’s not easy
to throw away
old clothes

the buttons alone!

BILLY B – (for William S. Burroughs Jr.)

billy b
he be dead
at thirty-three
(like a cypress tree cut down
to clear the air around
a stop sign
- the idiots!

something cute about
 a pirate and a poet
funning themselves
on colorado boulevard

with me on the lark to luck love
and the baby you divined
and you
casually on your way to early death
and sainthood in a cutthroat heaven)

we were outriggish as you said
the clothes the hearts the hair
and you
on the hospital morphine fly
so high
you’d pass out on a toke of good weed
and I’d take you home to your chair
where you’d smoke your cigarettes
drink your beer - schlitz malt liquor please -
and stare
at alice liddell
doc holliday
or joe frazier
maybe get your strength back in a while
and throw a knife into the wall
or bayonet the couch

I’d water your philodendron
a tropical rarity you claimed
for a year I was gonna get
a new pot for it, billy

and remember lili, billy
an angel come to see you
            I’d hoped there’d be a meeting of the hearts            
and remember the day
you ernie and ray
dressed in wedding bests
out the door at 9 am
catching a ride
to the finest celebration of the summer, your last

tattooed children
actors and painters
cool jazz on the balcony
beautiful dresses across the floor
with booze on the tables even
and mushrooms in the bag

tony scibella was throwing hats
off the edge
and you warned about knives
and revenge in relation to your hat
and that hillside

child-mad you were
defending your hat

and on the way back that night
you wanted to stop at mcdonald’s
but I didn’t have the hour
it would take you to eat

I dropped you off hungry
in front of your pad
and pointed at
the jack in the box across the street

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

"In My Mother's Bed"

 “In My Mother’s Bed”

as always
for Marcia

The great American poet, Robert Lee Frost, was once asked, “What is the most significant event, the most important thing that ever happened to you?” I’m sure the interviewer thought Frost’s response would have something to do one of the following: with Frost’s recitation of his poem “The Outright Gift” at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1963, the first time ever that a poet had the honor of reading at a presidential inauguration; or being selected to be the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1953 to 1959; or receiving the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry four times, in the years 1924, 1931, 1937 and 1943; or receiving Yale’s Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 1963; or his marriage to his high school sweetheart and co-valedictorian, Elinor White on December 19, 1895; or the births of any of his six children. Robert Frost’s answer, however, had nothing to do with any of these important events and dates in his life; rather, his answer – “a road less traveled,” if you will - had to do with Frost’s own birth in San Francisco on March 26, 1874: “I was born in my mother’s bed.”

Now I’m not sure how I came to know this odd fact. My best guess is that I heard it via a recorded interview with Frost that was broadcast on early public - as in University of Pennsylvania - radio in the 70s, a decade or so after his death. Regardless, it was an indelible tidbit etched on my hard drive that I never forgot and which helped to inform my getting on board with Marcia’s decision to pursue a homebirth when she became pregnant in July of 1980. Our first child was born on March 27, 1981, like Frost, in its mother’s bed, in particular at 542 South Pearl Street in Denver one hundred and seven years, plus three hours, after Frost was born. This is the story of that birth and the fortunate happenstance of the five women, the midwives who assisted.

Marcia and I were not exactly trying to conceive a child when we did. As with many of the important moments together in our lives, a wedding played a part in Marcia’s impregnation. Indeed, our history as a couple is wedding rich: Marcia and I met as blind dates at a wedding and we both have spent decades working as wedding professionals, Marcia as a photographer and I as a celebrant. Our own wedding in 1979 was so over the top personal that those in attendance still speak of the poems burned, the mushrooms distributed, the fact I wore no shirt, the motley tent made of sown together drapes that shaded her family and my friends from the July noontime sun in our South Pearl Street backyard, the severe frown on my father-in-law-to-be’s face. And much of what I know of spirituality and ritual has been engendered by what I’ve experienced at weddings.

Now the particular wedding connected to our first child’s conception was the wedding of my boss at the time, Tommy Larkin. He managed the Boston Half Shell where I waited tables. Thus it was an Irish/restaurant-worker wedding with more than its fair share of fine food and drink; and I do believe the alcohol offered and imbibed that day in Aspen Colorado played a significant role in Marcia’s miscalculation of her ovulation cycle as we made love the night of Tommy’s marriage. Nonetheless, when, a month or so later, it became apparent that something was missing in Marcia’s life, the regular monthly punctuation signaling all is as it has been, that she might be pregnant, we both were ecstatic with joy at the prospect of parenthood and we embraced the pink color of the test strip and the confirmation of her pregnancy with an almost rabid fervor. It would seem that something I wrote in a poem after attending Tony Scibella’s daughter’s wedding in 1979 – “At weddings, a woman, sometimes two, will get pregnant” - had been prophetic.

And soon, Marcia and I were off in search of a midwife, not an easy thing to do in 1980 as midwifery was generally frowned upon by most practitioners of modern medicine and not the usual choice of young married couples, even though humans have been born without hospitals, doctors and drugs for over two hundred thousand years. Many of the people in our lives at the time thought us a bit crazy, if not irresponsible, to pursue homebirth, including Marcia’s parents who would never be on the same page, culturally and spiritually, with their daughter and son-in-law. Marcia and I took to searching the postings of community bulletin boards in the Bohemian establishments we frequented: coffee houses and bookstores and what were then known as natural food stores. Although practically everyone we knew characterized our search as foolish, dangerous, and hippie-dippy, we thought it to be wise, natural and empowering, if you will, “the road less traveled.” And the midwife we soon hooked up with proved to be wise, natural and empowering as well. Rare would be the woman who could say she had walked in her shoes. Her name was Gina and to this day I consider us lucky to have found her because her underground network of fellow practitioners of black-market midwifery was so large that a curandera, i.e., a woman healer in Texas, her wisdom, was largely responsible for solving a difficulty that presented itself during the birth of our first child, and the elderly healer never even knew of us.

Marcia’s labor was exceedingly long, over thirty hours: morning, noon, afternoon, evening, night, all night, into another morning. Because Gina was an on-the-down-low teacher of midwifery as well as a practitioner, there were three other midwives assisting Gina during the first twenty-nine hours of Marcia’s labor, and a fourth arrived about twenty minutes before our child was born. Ramona, the last to arrive – in the nick of time you might say - had just returned to Denver after two months of study and training with an elderly and legendary indigenous midwife, shaman and teacher who had been present at and assisted with the births of some thousands of kids in rural Texas. Upon arrival, Ramona had telephoned Gina’s house after departing the Greyhound bus on Twentieth Street and had been told by Gina’s daughter that Gina was attending a birth on Pearl Street. Informed that the birth most likely was imminent, given that Gina had already been gone from home more than twenty-four hours, Ramona took another bus, the Number 5, from downtown Denver and arrived at my house with a backpack full of traveling clothes and a head full of wisdoms recently learned. Still, she was quiet and calm and deferred to the more experienced and older midwives in attendance as Marcia’s labor progressed, that is, until things got dangerously complicated.

When my child entered the birth canal, there was a problem. Gina told us the baby wasn’t breech, but its seemingly large head and shoulders were positioned in such a way that, were this birth taking place in a hospital, given the duration of Marcia’s labor, most attending physicians would call for a surgeon to perform a Caesarian. I had all the faith in the world of Marcia’s determination to see things through and immense confidence in the midwives present, but I must admit I was apprehensive. Worried I was about the extreme effort Marcia was putting into pushing, concerned about her understandable exhaustion, disturbed by the gritty and growling moans that accompanied each push, fearful of the fluctuating information of the fetal monitoring, anxious about the time my child was spending in the birth canal. And then when Gina said we might consider going to the hospital if the progress through the birth canal remained impeded much longer, the young apprentice, Ramona, offered a suggestion, something the elderly curandera had only spoken of, a technique Ramona had not actually observed or employed.

Marcia sat on our futon bed with her back to the wall. Gina, monitoring our child’s vitals, squatted between Marcia’s legs. With a midwife on either side of Marcia, Ramona, with the assistance of Fiona, Gina’s primary assistant, did a handstand aside Marcia, the kind of handstand where one’s feet are used to walk up a wall with one’s head facing the wall. Ramona then sidestepped with her hands until she was centered over Marcia, an arm on either side of Marcia’s outstretched legs. And then as Ramona’s legs walked further up the wall above Marcia’s head, the three midwives lifted Ramona up, with their hands under her upside down shoulders until Ramona could place her hands lightly and gingerly on Marcia’s stomach, at which point she was literally doing a handstand on Marcia’s fundus, although the accompanying midwives were totally supporting Ramona’s weight and there was no pressure on Marcia or our child within. After exploring the surface of Marcia’s stomach like a masseuse and finding what she was looking for - our child’s rump I guessed - Ramona directed the three who were holding her up to ever so slightly let her weight come to bear on Marcia’s stomach. And as the women began to let the force of Ramona’s upside down weight come into play, I heard the sweetest words I’ve ever heard above the howl of Marcia’s final moan: “It’s a boy.”

After the birth of my son, I began writing letters to my assorted governmental representatives advocating that midwifery be legalized in Colorado. I wrote letters for thirteen years. Only one politician ever wrote back, my state house representative, and he informed me I was dangerously insane. Every year for more than a decade he told me the same thing. He was dead set against midwifery. And then in 1993 he wrote to thank me for my persistence as he had changed his mind and had voted to make midwifery legal in the state of Colorado.

I guess I should have written to thank him, but I did not. I simply burned the thirteen letters wherein he informed me of my lunacy, as I am the kind of Irish who enjoys a shaman’s voodoo as much as holding a grudge. On the other hand, I have been writing Thank You’s in the form of poems, novels, plays and stories to Mr. Frost these last thirty-four years, thanking him indirectly for the wisdom of his answer to the question of significance “I was born in my mother’s bed,” words that have inspired me and others – Marcia, Gina, Ramona, and many others – to take the road less traveled. And this tale is one of those Thank-You-Mr-Frost letters that I wish Ramona and that Texas curandera might read one day.