Wednesday 5 February 2014

1 Poem by Lewis Ellingham


my attention is fully held, I
                                                rest on a bed designed for me to move only
                                    in prescribed positions, left side, back, the room
darkened except for a computer screen, a technician’s face,
       his fingers racing over a keyboard, this is my heart,
                   the valves opening and closing, a ghostly pulsing
                               image and, from time to time, the
            sound up, rolling thumps of heartbeat, lines
                        graphing the rhythms, this has gone on
                                    for 80 years, the organ growing awhile
and, 15 years ago, violated by something called a “heart attack”
       and stent insert — I ask the technician, ‘Why is it that
              the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, the ancient
                     world believed the heart to be the seat of
                              intelligence?’ and he responds, ‘Did they?’
   and goes on to question, ‘Do they really know if that star
         blade runner from the South African Olympics team
                 killed his also-star wife intentionally, like the police
            say, or his excuse, that he thought she was an intruder?’
     I answer, ‘The charge is he killed her in bed with some kind of
              sports bat and dragged her into the bathroom, then closed
                        the door and shot her four times through the panel.’
By Shakespeare’s time, certainly, the heart is the center of
               feeling and emotion, intellect has moved to the brain.
                        Beat, beat, beat, pump, pump, pump, the valves
       seem to be jumping up and down, a joyous dance,
            evenly galloping, not perfectly repeating, still an
                  obvious order — the light in the room, over
         the echocardiogram, is ghastly, the movement lively,
South Africa, murder, here, here and


Born February 27th, 1933, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I grew up there, went away to a Jesuit high school in Wisconsin, and came to San Francisco by the mid-1950s. By 1960 I had become friends with Jack Spicer and his bar community life in North Beach, and never looked back. Spicer’s death in 1965 scattered the group, but many of those who had become friends. I wrote poetry in those Spicer years. Over the 1980s I was involved in Bob Gl├╝ck’s gay writer’s group, writing short fiction. In 1982 I’d begun the book Poet Be Like God that, and eventually published with Kevin Killian in 1995 by Wesleyan University Press., the only full biography so far of Jack Spicer [complemented by Killian’s & Peter Gizzi’s account, in 2008]. Although I was one of the organizers of the Gay Writers Conference in San Francisco in the early 1990s at the Cathedral Hill Hotel and other venues in the City, shortly thereafter my interests changed, I became an amateur genealogist, focusing on projects full time that have resulted in several published titles and large research projects at libraries and on line. But by the early years of this decade, I began to write again, returning to poetry and prose poetry.
Boots / Stiefel [4 volumes] (2006)
Ellingham Index in North America (1998)
The Ancestries of David Miller and Clarissa Moore [2 volumes] (1995)
The Heymanns of Kaltenholzhausen (1995)
Two Coventry Shoemakers Become Indiana Farmers (2000)

3 Sonnets (Lewis Ellingham, 1965), with music by Jack Goodwin [n.d.]
Koet’s death [novel] (1987)
La Via Sacra [long poem, illustrated by author’s photos] (1988)
Mechanicly We Move in God’s Universe [10 short stories] (1985)
Poet Be Like God, co-authored with Kevin Killian (short version, 1998)
Poet, Be Like God [5 volumes] (long version, 1989)
The Birds [poems; deluxe edition] (San Francisco: M Press, 2008)
The Bushes They Were Bells [fantasy] (1985)
The Coleman Valley Road [poems] (1981)
The Countless Unmurmuring Dead [autobiographical novel] (1986)
The Jefferson Airplane [chapbook, poems] (1971)
The Queen Mary [mystery] (1991)
The Rain Column [novella] (1990)
The Wounded Laurel [poems] (1965/1975)
Xavier [novella] (1989)
The Birds and Other Poems (San Francisco: Ithuriel’s Spear, 2009)
San Francisco: 33 Views (2011)
The Wall, The City, The Last Supper (2011)
Songs (2011)
an underlying permanence (February 2012)
Grasshopper Sparrow (February 2012)
The Collected Poetry and Prose Poetry Volumes 1 and 2 (summer 2012)
Objects (poems, 2012, 2013)

Publications in which writings were presented: 1961-1985:
9 Queen Bees (Dublin, Ireland) [poem ‘Ducks’ first appeared, then called ‘E’]
Cassiopeia (San Francisco)
Ephemeris (San Francisco)
Hart (San Francisco)
M (San Francisco)
Manroot (San Francisco)
No Apologies (San Francisco)
Open Space (San Francisco)
The Capilano Review (Vancouver, B.C. area)

Publications in which writings were presented: 1986-present:
M Press (San Francisco: Glenn Todd [personal imprimatur])
Mirage / Periodical (various issues)
Wesleyan University Press [New England Universities Presses]
Polis [annual magazine, summer 2011]
pallaksch [annual poetry magazine, 2012]


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