Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tribute to a Lost Writer & Friend - Patrick Schnoor (II)

My late friend and poet Patrick Schnoor [1947-1997] was writing poetry in high school, that was better than most serious writers ever write in their whole lives. I thought, when I first read it, realizing that he'd written these poems when just a junior high school student in Los Banos, California in the early 1960's, he might go on to be a major American poet, but that was short-circuited by Patrick's drug problem(s). 
Here are three selections from 24 Sonnets, which I published as a small pamphlet in 1975 [Kensington: L Publications].
                              The Fly

Blue-bottle fly bake black beneath the sun.
Sear your jerky way across the concrete,
callous spot.  Your stop-go movements, discrete
quantum hops crack, seriate, the region
into stop-time, intense, and sequential.
I watch you close in a lyncean trance,
perhaps interpolate your random dance,
vibrant in the shattered air still full
of your buzz.  I'm dead.  And flat.   And supreme.
What an eerie sight you are--catch
some other god and teach him how to watch
the time, as rich and dense as thick, white cream.
soulless speck, setting scenes with dead finesse,
go, magnify another's emptiness.  


                      The Friendly Cat People 

Cats are esthetes:  They don't like your crumbling newspaper.
Their air wisp tails remove, and they like to think
they're licentious, though concerning their rumored sex they are mystic.
their non-aligned, unbenign stare
blinks resolvedly slow, and their gruesomely pink
mouths, whence dangle occasional small dusty mouse feet,
widen yawningly, with that functionally quiet flair
peculiarly leonine, epiglottilly domestic.
Watch a cat pour itself through a fence hole.
Observe the cats hunt before their lunch appointment,
how their play turns, surely, to cruel, if nothing's served,
claws splayed, their planetary eye-lights cooled.
And cats discriminate:  Often, at noon, they rest,
purring, nice, how people make the best pets.


                           Frog Catechist

Dry, abrasive tules smoulder, smokeless,
fester near the inadequate water,
as stagnant as the air aging in this
arid reservoir.  The curly mud sure
is fragile, cracked and peeling adobe
blanched by the exigeant sun.  Over there
the twin headgates are wound down uselessly.
I walk over to them, kneel, and stare
down through the grating at whatever may
be trapped behind it, in that concrete hole:
There's a bull-frog, with gold flecked constella-
tions in his eyes, and ex nihilo
nihil fit is demonstrated, as he
croaks, celebrates his office just for me.


Though distressingly juvenile in several ways, these precocious works demonstrate the inculcation of a number of pre-modern and post-modern techniques. The effects are crudely achieved, but the power of the vision--especially by one so young--speaks to a penetrating vision. 

I will post several more of Patrick's poems in the days ahead.  


Conrad DiDiodato said...


thanks for affirming the value of primary/secondary school education (though it probably wasn't your intention). I'd love to showcase some of the amazing poetic talents I've seen over the years in my high school classes. Talent appears early, and it's usually the grade 5or senior high school English teacher who spots and nourishes it. In my opinion the most shoddy, careless and plain untalented writing is usually to be found in the colleges/universities.

As I've said, I've seen precocious writing like this in my high school classes, too but alas, in culture-by-grants Canada the most glaring mediocrity always wins the day. Contemporary poetry in Canada (with exceptions, of course)is dismally tied to this government-academic stranglehold from which it's impossible to struggle free. I like your system: grants, awards only to the very best!

And my condolences to you on death of your friend.

J said...

In places awkward, but he understood the stark beauty of the central valley. I'll take a bit of nature poesy ala Jeffers, at least for chillin', over Kirby Olsen & pals doing WC Williams or Corsos, via John Milton on speed or whatever his trip is.

Then Pound didn't care for Jeffers' prosepoems I guess. Tant pis

jh said...

the frog catechist

that struck deep

one of the finest things i've read
of late


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