He’s “the poetry man, you make things alright.” sings Phoebe Snow in her song from 1989,
One of my favorite poets is a man better known for being a restaurant owner for more than twenty years in a number of locations in Boston.
I was a patron at his various locations before I came to have any personal interaction with him. He was a friend waiting to be discovered. I was attracted to his restaurant’s healthy, delicious and affordable food. I noticed that his restaurant had a diverse and joyous staff. For many years I thought he was a Southerner because of the name of his restaurant (Mississippi’s) and because of his middle name. I assumed he was a ragin’ Cajun because of that middle name.
I learned he was a man of deep convictions, strong opinions, and very community-oriented. Mississippi’s (now closed but not forgotten), was a part of the economic and social development of Roxbury. He was a strong supporter of the Roxbury Film Festival for a number of years. We had a natural affinity that deepened when he shared his poetry blog and read and supported my writing on my blog.
We have been admirers of each other for a couple of years now. So, without his permission or knowledge, I invite you to read a couple of Jim LaFond Lewis’s poems that I’ve included in this post. I hope that they touch you in some way. I also encourage you to be a regular visitor to his blog. (He also writes great essays but hasn’t kept that blog post.)
Jim’s poetry is sometimes crushingly deep, often displays a wry humor, and at other times is as light as a feather. I am often struck by the precision of his words. When he goes through brief periods of no poems coming forth, I miss them. Here are two of poems, very different creations, from my friend, Jim, the poetry man, yeah-eah-eah.
On some nights she draws a line down the center of the bed
and if I cross it, she threatens to machine gun me dead,
it’s dangerous, but I love her anyway,
so I forget, then I move my toe across, and my neck,
and before you know it, the DMZ has shrunk to just a theory,
she’s all elbows and nails, and even though
I haven’t woken, I’m leery she might start poking me
with determination and the finger which she keeps for just that purpose
like a fixed bayonet,
but I love her anyway and figure that she means me no real harm
so I roll to the center
(I ask you, who can remember the rules when he’s dreaming?)
and that’s when the swearing starts,
or the whole thing breaks down into touching and caring,
okay it happened once when I was thirty and it was my birthday,
but like our dog, whose memory in these transactions I admire,
I go on believing that this time,
there just might be a ceasefire.
– Jim LaFond-Lewis
Sam is in the living room
Sam is in the den
Sam is in the dining room
Sam is in his bed.
Sam is on the sofa
Sam is drinking long
Sam is in the cellar
Sam is on the lawn.
Sam is eating evening’s meal
Sam is often bad
Sam is keeping my life real
Sam is feeling sad.
Sam has never left me
Sam can hardly walk
Sam thinks he protects me
Sam can barely bark.
– Jim LaFond Lewis