Thursday, March 24, 2011

special feature (part one): albert huffstickler

I first came across Albert Huffstickler (known simply as 'Huff') when 'Fire' magazine published a few of his poems in 2005. I was so moved by them that I bought his selected poems, 'Why I Write in Coffee Houses and Diners' (available from Amazon). Six years later, I'm still turning to Huff's poems for his wisdom and clarity. He was a well-known poet in Austin, Texas, and many of his poems reflect the area.

Poet and academic Felicia Mitchell wrote an introduction to 'Why I Write in Coffee Houses and Diners'. Although Huff died in 2002, his legacy continues to grow, and I'm pleased to be able to include a tribute poem, 'The angel of death disguised as a park bench', written by Felicia and dedicated to artist Sylvie Rosenthal, who in turn has created her own tribute to Huff. In this lovely poem, there are plenty of 'nods' to the images and characters that Huff wrote about.

The angel of death disguised as a park bench

for Sylvie Rosenthal

It’s time to rest,

to stop shuffling your bird-boned feet

down sidewalks and across streets

and through alleys

where men who look just like you

nod their blessings.

There’s a woman with a chisel in her hand

She wants to reshape your brow.

All those furrows could be alabaster-smooth.

One touch, and she will remind you:

there is rest for the weary.

Listen to the advice the world gives you.

The sparrow on your shoulder could be a sign.

The crow cawing at the sun could be just as right

as the cashier at the last coffee house you sat at.

“Will that be all, sir?” she asked.

“That will be all,” you said.

All all all all —the crow caws.

The sparrow shudders

In front of you, the woman with the chisel

points to a park bench.

She wants you to sit down,

to rest your bird-boned feet,

so she can reshape your brow.

Next to her, the angel of death disguised as a park bench

beckons you like a mother.

Your mother, or god, your god-like mother.

There is rest for the weary.

Have a seat and let the sculptor heal you.

By the time you leave this earth,

there will no trace of it in your flesh,

just one more statue in the park

encircled with pigeons who will never go hungry

and sparrows.

Felicia Mitchell © 2002

Published in FIRE (Bristol, England), 2003

In response to Rosenthal’s memorial for Huffstickler:

An image is here:
Rosenthal’s site, with contact info.

Wikipedia page for Albert Huffstickler:

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