Featured Poet: Bill Burtis, Stratham
Bill Burtis had a poem published in the now defunct Hartford Times when he was a lad. He's a graduate of the Iowa workshop and, after 38 years in writing poems in the Granite State, considers himself a New Hampshire poet.
A lot of my poetry exorcises demons. This one, in particular, looks at my feelings of failure as a father - feelings I know I share with many fathers - but in an oblique way, which I prefer to stabbing myself in the head. I'm particularly fond of this poem because I conceived the last three stanzas almost as they are on my cell phone, as a message on my home answering machine. Martine is my eldest daughter.
One day, leaving the park
by the ocean beach, I looked
up from installing your sister
in her car seat, to see you
running toward the park gate,
arms outstretched, after a car
that looked like ours.
I knew everything at once –
What you believed, how your spirit
would be bowed, how you
were staggered by your tears.
Today, a boy that small, three perhaps,
still young enough that his intention to run
outdistances the capacity of his legs
to carry him at such speeds –
in jeans and a bright green sweatshirt
is chasing pigeons in the park
endlessly turning moment after moment
to find a new pigeon.
Remarkably, they do not fly
but run on their little legs
ahead of him as if understanding
perfectly this child’s game.
He runs and runs, turning
to one pigeon after another;
There is nothing else in his world.
Instinctively I scan the park and eventually
find him, the grandfather in this case, wisely,
like a grandfather, keeping his distance, giving
this boy his rein, his world.