“I paused as the surrounding darkness
only made the incredible light even more
various & glorious, there, up the stairs
& through the great glittering gate.”
— Jack Collom, from “A Sled in the Ozarks”
Jack Collom many things to many…and to the
mountains & birds he brought his many friends to…
we thank you in that chorus of discovery…
We were in touch before Naropa & the Jack Kerouac School of
Disembodied Poetics coalesced, landing in Boulder, and lucky we were that Jack Collom was there on the other end to greet us, and join the great experiment of contemplative eco-poetics and “crazy wisdom” lineages…
He was The Poet Guide of the negative ions of the magnificent
spine of the continent and he was editing the magazine “the” and already in touch with poets everywhere.
He was with us at Naropa during our New Weathers themed
program and passed on as the Summer Writing Program ended. His last reading on this earth during our opening week.
Keep yodeling into the goat void of becoming, dear Jack!
You are missed & remembered….
What to say about the beginning of our memorial except with the pure and simple presence of a doe and her twin fawns? The Performing Arts Center was teeming with people as every seat filled to capacity, the walls too, and even the hallway out into the pavilion. Everyone who could afford a good view of the stage could see a handsomely framed copy of his visage, shadow-boxed feathers one is sure to have seen by his writing table, and a heaping basket of “weeds” (russian sage, black-eyed susans, sunflowers, cattails, other thrush and fuss, etc) lovingly collected by his wife, Jennifer Heath.
Jack was further honored by readings and music from two of his children, Chris and Sierra, children and adults who he has taught, poets he worked with, everyone a testimony to his epithet as ‘The Great Collaborator’.
Jovan Mayes, poet laureate of Aurora made an announcement with Val Wheeler and her students about a permanent tribute to Jack honoring his love for nature and habitats of winged-wild things (possibly a tree with bench?). If you are interested in learning more and/or becoming involved, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
And of course there was yodeling by Josepha Conrad and Ken Bernstein, closed the evening for us getting the room of 200+ to yodel en suite in Jack’s spirit.
The Collaborative Poems:
I. Exquisite Corpse
The first line is always the hardest to write and the last is no picnic either Picnics are my grandmother’s temple She always loved candy before lunch
II. I remember…
Jack telling our class that we were “too serious for our own good” & yodeled instructions
I remember after the ceremony at Naropa as we gathered for refreshments and shared thoughts on Jack, I saw a woman from across the crowd, among the hubbub she dropped her tray of food and drink. And as the crowd passed over her puddle of splattered purple juice. Each shoe tracking with it, a tiny sticky imprint of the juice. forever-part of it immortal on their soles. As Jack stays, a small imprint on us. Forever.
I remember when the light sat so low it almost shook its shadow
I remember being proud all the time to be American to be alive
I remember Jack’s poems everyone of them all at once.
I remember playing the “dictionary” game where you get points for the most liked definition without regard for truth.
III. Q / A
Where’s my wallet? Why do you search for it? I lost it in the self I want back Where shall I go now? To the land between yesterday and tomorrow What is Jack Collom’s favorite mollusk? Molly, of course.They visit every 32nd Thursday What are the names of the members of Cheap Trick? Nonsense, Enlightenment, Death, Togetherness… in so many words. What is the dove on the roof saying / so lonely and so often? “Let it be, y’all. Or don’t” Then / it flew off… With all the money and feathers! / Now what? a silver Chevrolet star, shooting to Alamosa Mimosa On a silver-backed / what? A silver sliver of star- / light. What else? (not a question) What happens when we die? We float up into the sky What do the sunflowers / gossip about? Bees’ feet, Jack’s light Endless Acrostics under the soil
J upiter fan, we give
A ll our love
C oming home to make a turnip tart
K abul is not so far
C onsidering the fact that heaven’s / right here
O ddly out of / whatever was / not, when however / it was / poetry … he laughs… he laughs
L ikely to let you rattle on, even as you blush…
L oving lasting in a blue ocean of infinity
O r just
M uddy dust stars