The Turn of The Mind to that Shaded Place

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"[Arthur Mampel] is the people's poet. The trouble is not enough people have heard of him or read his remarkable work. This modest volume may change that. Let us hope."
— Dan Rather, Former Anchor for CBS Evening News

"Arthur Mampel's poetry sings off the page with a music that is emotionally intricate, richly layered and essential. When I read Art's poems, each poem leaves me with the satisfaction of listening to brilliantly performed chamber music."
— Libby Larsen, Composer

When I was small
in the season of dead corn,
the pheasants weaved and prowled
among the fallen stalks;
and winter leaped through my window,
a bright sudden tale of hoary frost.

Selected Poems


Infrequent Passing

My blood came to a halt      when it was said of her
That she was frequent      I found her rare      none
Like her among human variety      Not one other dips
The hand      to talk with words      or flings the head
To illustrate a mood      just so

The way she knees the air      in walk      or throws her
Hair      into the wind      And in the banter of her talk
The eastward glancing of the eyes      Those tipsy      busy
Turns she makes      as if replying to a bird      the
Lonely      sagging      lower lip      when down from under
She comes up      to breathe in little sighs      (On counter
Top      her bony knuckles rap the jukie beat)

The momentary sway      in rising from her chair      to brush
The wrinkles from her skirt

How to call you less than      solitary      uncommon
an infrequent passing

The King Is Dead!

The King is dead!
In some black town,
Some white suburb
There is an influence in the air
As definite as his death.

Uncertainty fills the National Soul.
Black tears crystallize
From too many white wishes
Hearts are sore
From too much weeping.

The King will come again
Reads an ancient oracle.

From the streets
Of Bethlehem's quiet hostility
A word goes forth,
"He has and he was black."

Al's Fix-It Shop

The only work my father knew
Was with strong hands
That shaped – turned down – wrenched
Welded – measured – drilled – heated
Pounded – bent – curved – tapped

Into a surface of satisfaction.
Most of all I remember those hands,
The dark grease and oil stains
That filled the irregular
Lines of his fingers and palms,

Or after a day of welding
Those open sores that bled
Onto a trailer he was repairing,
And those hands, so battered
By the toil of work that he ached

In the evening when mother
Poured iodine over his knuckles.
And always – just in case – peroxide
Boiled over the wounds.
Oh, how he believed in peroxide!

How peroxide was better than a surgeon's knife,
Better than a visit to any doctor.
In the evening, after the shop closed
And supper over, father would descend
Into the depths of the house

And I could hear the big machine
Turning down a large stock of metal
And the shavings falling beneath the lathe,
Twisted hair, spun of a sorcerer's loom.
He would sing with a low,

Then high sounding tone
That boomed on my ears
From the grease-smelling cave below,
Like the rising tempo of a jazz singer,
In the finale of an evening show

Cabin Fly

On cabin bunk with head at rest
I audit with my eye
A score of rafters reaching west
And one drunk cabin fly.

He circles where the light makes plain
His universe of dust
He loops around the room again
Then puts down where he must.

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