Celebrate Poetry with The Heretik: Poems and Prose about Family by Joe Ivory Mattingly
YESTERDAY WAS TAX DAY And a strange vibe was in the air. Seems like the day when people figure out where they stand with their money and their government puts them in touch with where they stand with everything else. Or not. So often we lead lives separated from the ones we should love more, including our selves.
Every day is tax day: The world forever demands we consider where we stand in relation to others. When the world is most taxing, I find my relation in poetry,
Consider this post your chance to post whatever you like about poetry here and elsewhere in this world, to drop in favorite poems and songs in part or in whole that mean the world to you, to do whatever you like. Thanks, Joe.
so much of a picture
depends upon the frame
what can exists
but not without its name
“In The Name of the Father” Joe Ivory Mattingly
the living rise
daily from the grave
days of the past unknowing
what the future holds in its hands
a flower tossed toward
tomorrow grazes my face
"Ezra" Joe Ivory Mattingly
one thing anything
but as how you see it
white as snow
pale as ice
white as vanilla
a boring ice cream
dark as doom
a shadow in my room
dark as night
when we dream
choice the destiny
"Carlos" Joe Ivory Mattingly
man the wondrous
pig climbs A tree
to spy heaven
in the splendor
of your words
"Will" Joe Ivory Mattingly
ashes on my forehead ashes burn my throat i have seen the world end end not once but twice first time didn’t kill me then i died again dying i do it so very well well dying pity the living the living here in hell
"Thomas" Joe Ivory Mattingly
you are in me
and I in you
echo of paumanok
father of none father of all
"Walt" Joe Ivory Mattingly
I have had many poetic father and many mothers as well. I thank them all who unknowing have given me all. Joe Ivory Mattingly
What is in a name? Nothing and Everything. I, Joe Ivory Mattingly, have but one genetic father given the first name Charles and the middle name of endless southern history Magruder. I heard about Mattingly and Magruder and the Civil War and the First Families of Maryland and the Ark and the Dove and endless tales from my genetic father throughout his life. He had, as my older brother would put it, an infinite capacity for outrage. And I might add a laugh. My father was an actor given to the soul of the word made flesh on the stage. An actor who became a lawyer to flesh out an income. Somewhere in there he met my mother. Geraldine Cecilia Ivory. Known as Jerry.
As most mothers do, my mother admitted a father in her life. His name was Joseph Ivory, which explains how I got the name. (My older brother got stuck with the Charles Magruder Mattingly. Ha.) My grandfather Joe Ivory was a founding member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3. For this badge of honor, he got himself locked out of many a job because unions were not looked upon with kindness in the Twenties and Thirties. Workers together may have power, but still someone would diminish it. When my grandfather died, my mother was almost too strong. She gave my brother my grandfather's tool box, but she said I would always have his name. I am Joseph Ivory Mattingly. I take a small pride in my middle name, no more than that. So I honor my grandfather.
My grandfather was given to few words. He spoke more by what he did. I miss him, as a man misses all his family in his heart, if not in his words each day, if not in his acts each night. I remember when he would open his tool box, something would get fixed. And if that tool box squeaked when it opened, he immediately would put some Three in One oil to the offending hinge. You deal with something when you see it. He never said it, but this he taught me countless times. He would smile every time he did it. We went through a lot of Three in One oil in our time.
My brothers and sisters will tell you I am not like the other Mattinglys, I am more the Ivory. Different in build, different of mind. My older sister likes to remind me that I said not a word for the full first three years of my life and have not shut up since. Guilty I plead to that, but innocent of all else. I am not so Catholic as the rest of my family. If someone says they believe in original sin, I say why believe in only one. Such statements would disquiet both sides of my family, but I am what I am. I am Joseph Ivory Mattingly.
I am more the Ivory. From my father I have been given the capacity for outrage, from my mother the ability to withstand the outrages within and without with humor. From some unknown Mattinglys and from some generations known in the past of Ivorys, I have inherited the gene for alcoholism and expressed it in the joy and sorrow of my life. I am more the Ivory, so I see the joy even in the sorrow.
What is in a name? A bond that can't be severed, even as we hold a knife in our hands. Today is the birthday of my brother Jim, who made his peace with me long before I made my peace with him. My niece Jeri has a birthday this week, as does my niece Sarah. Jeri is named for my mother. Sarah is the child of two cultures. All the world runs in her and she is strong in her stride. Today I miss you all in body, but am with you always in spirit.
My grandfather now and again would open his wallet. He would hold it
open like it held the world, like he was catching the wind for a
moment. I would look at what he had in his wallet. The union card. I
remember the picture of him with more hair. I remember the driver's
license. A chauffeur's license. My grandfather took work as a
chaffeur driving cars for others when others would not hire union
workers. When I would ask him why, he wouldn't say anything for a
minute. Or so it seemed. Then he would put his hand on me. I remember
the imprint of his hand on my shoulder, on my life. Why a chauffeur's
license? Because what you have now, you may not have tomorrow. Then
he would hand me a buck. I would ask him what is that was for. He
would say for nothing. Such nothing means everything to me now.