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Edwin Drummond     
Bio: A Climber's Guide to the Mind of Edwin Drummond. I was born in a nutshell, England, with an inherent drive - like Thoreau's beetle - to get out of the fixed form and see the world through my own inner eyes. Which propelled me up trees, electric pylons, buildings, hills, cliffs and mountains.  Contrapuntally, as I climbed up ( including making a solo climb of El Capitan and leading political protest climbs for Amnesty International and for the UN) my aspirations to understand the human predicament became more grounded.  In the writing of poetry I try to keep one ear to the ground, the other in the air: lightning conductor, fishing rod, a well, at best a tree: height and depth together, from roots to seeds. With, yes, lots of falls from grace. 

 This selection of poems spans the last twenty years of the forty that I have been writing and climbing.



The Experiment

He laid down poems like roads: but there was
no mass transport.
He built an airport out of verse: everything
was grounded, and besides, the fares 
were out of the question.

Space was the answer.

‘As I stepped down’ – he later wrote,
for he could have sworn – ‘the moon boomed.’
It couldn’t be…hollow? A month later, getting
desperate – for there was nothing to do but write –
he reached down for a rock to throw at the Earth,
so that people would know he was up there
- it crumpled in his grip.

A snowman in his white astronaut suit,
surrounded by crumpled balls of paper…
Was everything made of paper?
Everything.

Except the Earth.

He was gazing at the clouds of breath,
they began to clear, unveiling
an oceanic tear of water,
which parted like a mouth, showing
the glowing heart beating.

The plastic suit softened.
He started to move…
Before he reached the dark side
he looked back
- the blood drop of the sun
was trembling – 
he felt something warm leave.

Looking down he was turning to bone,
then just dust, white sand,
a breath of air and he would be gone.

Only his head remains, and
- out of nowhere – two fledgling ears,
satellites, that began shuttling back 
and forth like butterflies
after his neck was dismantled.

Once a month he turns
to gape at the Earth.



Deer to Me

Crack of a twig…
I glance back into
two, huge eyes.
A wet, black nose
twitching oak leaves,

while the milk of my cereal
drips onto my trousers.
Long velvet ears
like ballet slippers.
Plum, pursed lips.

Flitting through the trees
like Diana’s understudies
from those satyrs,
whose antlers are prised out
by men with certain doubts.
Barishnikov-buttocked, camera-shy.

Gone. Dear,

I have to say,
she is the other woman.
Naked, fey,
her stare back at the cars
is Asian, erotic
the way she trots off
with her white arse bobbing.

Although the green diet
doesn’t draw me to her pine kitchen
- and I’m not tempted in her bed
of leaves, her small feet
are so hard and sharp –
I bet her breath is sweet as grass.

And I would like to stroke
her trembling face,
and rest her head
on my tangled chest – your forest bed –
for an hour or two.

Quick private wild
animal, I could never capture or train
- who reminds me of you –
come again.
 
 
 
 
 

 

             Indebted

My tax accountant had put on weight.
Twisting a rubber band
around his fingers, he told me
"People on welfare hold a gun to my head

- Sit down please."

And then how he broke his wrist: hitting
the bathroom door of his ex; "Deliberately,"
he insists. As he tells me
he’s building model spaceships
he visibly relaxes: "One day"
- opening my file – he says,
"they’ll mine the asteroid belt."

As well as shelter taxes.

He loves to hike.
Is short-sighted.
And may, some day, be famous,
in Marin.

Recommending a book on Quantum Theory,
when he butted in, saying "When I was a freshman
in the Fifties, no one had heard of it
- let alone read," rebuffed, I said,
"I think anyone who could have interrupted
- especially after the Reichstag fire –
to say that Planck’s" – he blinked –
"deductions, would make space travel prices higher
than humanity could afford, should be able
to estimate for me what the inheritance taxes
on poetry will be, if we
don’t watch our language."

He laughed, then went through the forms,
figuring, between the lines,
"You will never be rich."

Walking home in the rain
toward the incoming sea, accountable
for everything, knowing disdain
saves nothing, I’m wondering
how much I can end up owing
to what came free…

Thought and the stars, your hand in the dark.



          The Basket of Dreams

Yesterday, just before I swept
a mess of light brown twigs
the wind had whisked around
the drive, a scuffling sound 
made me look up…

Two, gray doves, were building
- kindling - on the first deck
of the fire escape, from the shape,
the place half-hidden
and the greening time of year,
I guessed a nest.

First thought was pleasure.
Next came fear… 

that some owner might
not recognize how doves,
like love, come 
without permission. 

And order its removal.

I will not remove it.
Which might lead to my dismissal.

Next day, first thing
I sweep up the tell-tale twigs,
and notice from below
the woven forming,
hear the excited voices
calling as they shuttle
to and fro, and wish
it could be so for all of us
whose wings were clipped,
who tip-toe with our pens,
building thoughtful nests
for what still flies… Our hopes,
our love of truth and beauty
- all those ladders leading
down to earth and taking care
of him or her with whom
we share our bare bones nest
of arms each time we dare
to open what may still be wings
enough to reach each other
as we fall from sight and sound
and touch, into silence
so profound we find 
our voices.



In the cave
 

of the black woolen cap
you gave me to stay warm
while I ran on the hills,
a little snake has made a grave.

On the clay-baked path
it lay, a baby, no thicker than my pinkie.
Blue eyes, dust-dimmed cobalt beads;
6 inch tattooed length of beige diamond-skin;
the tiny black rattle silent-still.

Breathless… ?

Death’s fossil.
Probably hit by a mountain bike wheel.

I took off my hat.

…picking 
it up – slipping it 
in where my head had been –
I ran on with my new baton.

The ground was rising – growing hot
it might revive – bite – slithering
past my wrist…

In the freezer, awaiting
trial in the window box,
among the nasturtiums
and worms, when the flowers commence.

Poem remains…

only skeleton
notation of a silent song
summed among the swaying
grasses in the sun, before
it went down; a reminder: Stay
warm, slow down;

look both ways.