Live Poets Society: Chens v. Boyer On World Poetry Day

Today is World Poetry Day, and since much of the East Coast is housebound from the snow storm, what better excuse to light the candles, pour some tea (or cognac) and enjoy some rhyming verse by Ivy Style’s founder Christian Chensvold and special correspondent G. Bruce Boyer. Both men studied English in college (Boyer even taught it) and began writing poetry around that time.

While at school Chensvold recited poetry (in shirt and tie) at his local cafe, self-published a volume upon graduation entitled “Photos of My Brain,” and had a piece published in Poet Magazine circa 1995. The sonnet below was composed last November, his first composition in two decades (well, save for the Ivy Style photo shoot), and was received with cold indifference by the woman who inspired it.

Boyer’s work has appeared in The Rake. “I don’t write poetry regularly,” he says, “only when I experience something that strikes me as insightful, usually in a psychological way. I tend to agree with Robert Motherwell when he wrote, ‘It may be that the deep necessity of art is the examination of self-deception.'” The following poem, entitled “Old Children,” is published here for the first time.

* * *

Old Children

By G. Bruce Boyer

“The tragedy is not that we grow old, but that we don’t.” — Oscar Wilde


Sometimes it seems life’s fated results
Are we never really end up adults.
From childhood to age in one fleet clip,
The years between a blurry trip.

Age has its comforts they say with a smile,
The spirit still strong, though the body turns vile.
We wouldn’t go back, they hasten to say,
Full knowing the choice has been taken away.

But sadder than those are the ones who still know
They haven’t grown old, even clutched in death’s throe.
Wilde got it right, as he so often did,
We just go to the grave with our children well hid.

* * *

To E——

By Christian Chensvold

In the darkest year of my life, the end
of a long-tossing inner tempest,
of stumbling along through crook and bend
without a star to guide me from the forest,

I thought these sullen woods would ever be
my mournful home, full of dragons wise
in torment, but which I came with time to see
were mirages glimpsed through half-shut eyes.

And then lo there shone in the heavens an astral aide
to guide me from gloom with glorious beam,
and I came upon a church, where inside was a maid

whom I’d seen before as if in a dream,
with moonwashed skin and hair to blanket sorrow,
who spoke her name to me, and in doing so,

became real, though still like some damsel of yore,
and in my heart I felt open a long-closed door.

13 Comments on "Live Poets Society: Chens v. Boyer On World Poetry Day"

  1. EvanEverhart | March 21, 2018 at 2:21 pm |

    Is it just me, or does it look like the fellow in the painting is wearing a button down collared shirt with french cuffs beneath his dressing gown? Comments upon the substance of this post to come. So far; quite enjoyable!

  2. whiskeydent | March 21, 2018 at 2:57 pm |

    Kris Kristofferson, “The Pilgrim, Chapter 33”

    See him wasted on the sidewalk in his jacket and his jeans
    Wearin’ yesterday’s misfortunes like a smile
    Once he had a future full of money, love and dreams
    Which he spent like they was goin’ out of style

    And he keeps right on a-changin’ for the better or the worse
    Searchin’ for a shrine he’s never found
    Never knowin’ if believin’ is a blessin’ or a curse
    Or if the goin’ up was worth the comin’ down

    He’s a poet, oh, he’s a picker, he’s a prophet, he’s a pusher
    He’s a pilgrim and a preacher, and a problem when he’s stoned
    He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth, partly fiction
    Takin’ ev’ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home

    He has tasted good and evil, in your bedrooms and your bars
    And he’s traded in tomorrow for today
    Runnin’ from his devils Lord, and reachin’ for the stars
    And losin’ all he loved, along the way

    But if this world keeps right on turnin’, for the better or the worse
    And all he ever gets is older and around
    From the rockin’ of the cradle, to the rollin’ of the hearse
    The goin’ up was worth the comin’ down

    He’s a poet, an’ he’s a picker, he’s a prophet, an’ he’s a pusher
    He’s a pilgrim and a preacher, and a problem when he’s stoned
    He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction
    Takin’ ev’ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home

    There’s a lot of wrong directions, on that lonely way back home

  3. Mitchell S. | March 21, 2018 at 3:46 pm |

    @EvanEverhart: See “Tony Curtis and the French Buttondown”:

  4. Caustic Man | March 21, 2018 at 6:45 pm |

    I greatly enjoyed both poems. I hope this won’t be too out of place among poetry by the two accomplished writers featured in this post, but here’s something from me.

    Short Poem for Jessica

    Why do I linger on the thought of your lips,
    as if thinking a moment longer might bring you near.
    Or the thought of your eyes,
    as if their half concealed smile might ease our time apart.

    How can I reason with the vacancy I feel,
    reason cannot know the void I endure without you here.
    Nor can science know my spirit,
    no calculus is enough to measure the changes in my heart.

    If I could make genuine the world of dreams,
    and within my own mind conjure figures of you, life-like,
    I would think myself wise in joy or a fool in love,
    though I would count myself contented, and twice-right.

  5. Teasing Tom was a very bad boy,
    A great big squirt was his favourite toy
    He put live shrimps in his father’s boots,
    And sewed up the sleeves of his Sunday suits;
    He punched his poor little sisters’ heads,
    And cayenne-peppered their four-post beds;
    He plastered their hair with cobbler’s wax,
    And dropped hot halfpennies down their backs.
    The consequence was he was lost totally,
    And married a girl in the corps de bally!

  6. Love After Love
    -Derek Walcott

    The time will come
    when, with elation
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror
    and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

    and say, sit here. Eat.
    You will love again the stranger who was your self.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

    all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.
    Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

    the photographs, the desperate notes,
    peel your own image from the mirror.
    Sit. Feast on your life.

  7. Roy Earnshaw | March 22, 2018 at 12:23 am |

    When asked whether he should be considered a poet, Bob Dylan replied: ” “I think of myself more as a song-and-dance man.”

  8. Vern Trotter | March 22, 2018 at 1:45 am |

    -Rupert Brooke

    If I should die, think only this of me:
    That there’s some corner of a foreign field
    That is forever England. There shall be
    In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
    A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
    Gave, once more, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
    A body of England’s breathing English air,
    Washed by rivers, blest by sons of home.

    And think this heart, all evil shed away,
    A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
    Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
    Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
    And laughter learnt of friends; and gentleness,
    In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

  9. Dutch Uncle | March 22, 2018 at 2:06 am |

    THE night was thick and hazy
    When the ‘Piccadilly Daisy’
    Carried down the crew and captain in the sea;
    And I think the water drowned ’em;
    For they never, never found ’em,
    And I know they didn’t come ashore with me.

    Oh! ’twas very sad and lonely
    When I found myself the only
    Population on this cultivated shore;
    But I’ve made a little tavern
    In a rocky little cavern,
    And I sit and watch for people at the door.

    I spent no time in looking
    For a girl to do my cooking,
    As I’m quite a clever hand at making stews;
    But I had that fellow Friday,
    Just to keep the tavern tidy,
    And to put a Sunday polish on my shoes.

    I have a little garden
    That I’m cultivating lard in,
    As the things I eat are rather tough and dry;
    For I live on toasted lizards,
    Prickly pears, and parrot gizzards,
    And I’m really very fond of beetle-pie.

    The clothes I had were furry,
    And it made me fret and worry
    When I found the moths were eating off the hair;
    And I had to scrape and sand ’em,
    And I boiled ’em and I tanned ’em,
    Till I got the fine morocco suit I wear.

    I sometimes seek diversion
    In a family excursion
    With the few domestic animals you see;
    And we take along a carrot
    As refreshment for the parrot,
    And a little can of jungleberry tea.

    Then we gather as we travel,
    Bits of moss and dirty gravel,
    And we chip off little specimens of stone;
    And we carry home as prizes
    Funny bugs, of handy sizes,
    Just to give the day a scientific tone.

    If the roads are wet and muddy
    We remain at home and study,—
    For the Goat is very clever at a sum,—
    And the Dog, instead of fighting,
    Studies ornamental writing,
    While the Cat is taking lessons on the drum.

    We retire at eleven,
    And we rise again at seven;
    And I wish to call attention, as I close,
    To the fact that all the scholars
    Are correct about their collars,
    And particular in turning out their toes.

    Charles Edward Carryl

  10. I was particularly struck by Mr. Boyer’s “Full knowing the choice has been taken away.” Wisdom in that poem.

    CC seems to have had a breakthrough year. Congratulations!

  11. Henry Contestwinner | March 22, 2018 at 6:44 pm |

    Christian Chensvold
    when it comes to men’s fold
    ing of their pocket squares
    says it is best to do it naturally, and not put on airs.

  12. Henry Contestwinner | March 23, 2018 at 12:00 pm |

    A clerihew, for those who were curious.

  13. Vern Trotter | March 27, 2018 at 10:19 pm |

    Clerihew: a short comic verse consisting of two rhyming couplets with lines of unequal length, typically referring to a famous person.

    Named after Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956), the English writer who invented it. In my opinion Henry deserves the trophy here.

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