Bill Nevins | 3 poems

A Gentile Kaddish Sung at Dawn for All Fallen in the Sun

(Written after finishing the book Spain in Our Hearts 
by Adam Hochschild, about those who died 1936-1939)


No, son, only a lucky few of us are Jews–
thick micks, Belgians, Germans–
we were and are–
yet proud enough to have known
those earth deep people of that 
Tribe of Moses,
or the Gente of Nuevo Mexico
and the loving folk of Vietnam
Louisiane,
Africa,
Spain–
oh, any fine land 
where they still breathe free
Afghanistan
Iraq
those of faith
those of Allah
or even the good believers in Pope or Lenin,
Rastafari or Buddha, for sweet Christ's sake!
even those who cherish this Fourth
this weird old falling down 
Amerikay
Hey!
brother
son
strong fighter
man
I, non-Jew old man
of yours
yet do strive to sing 
Kaddish
for you
in this troubled land
in
anyway I can
I do
This mountain morning
as I think of the fallen heroes
of Spain
of Gardez Base
of this falling rising world
May you fall softy
rise gently
in our holy star's blaze
in our fierce moon's pull

non, je ne regrette rien

(Liam 1981-2013)

I guess they
—my silent loved ones, far away—
blame me 
for his death
although, 
or perhaps because,

I never was a fan of war 
or glory
–nor was he–

they buried him
with all the pomp
and flags and war songs
the government
could lay on
to put their minds at rest
(he already was at rest)
to let them know they were the best
that they could be

still they fume
and are not at peace

as I can't explain
nor reflect nor share
their anger their hate
it seems that 
they aim blame
not at him
nor at any faceless foreign enemy,
nor at religion, recruiter, general or president
but at me:
a life long infidel 
to the military deity
to whom they bend the knee

if that helps them, so it must be
but, really?

I did not bring on his death
I shared his birth 
in that I was in on his conception–
—I don’t regret that love 
and life

I shared his life as he grew
as he walked, ran
marched and flew
off to war

I loved how he laughed
how he ran mountain wilds
as a child
I loved how he sang
"Redemption Song”

so how can I regret
his death 
any more than his birth,
his life, his song,
which I can never regret?

and how could one make amends
for what was so good for so long,
for his life that always lives on,
after all?

he lived and died with no regrets
he gave us what he had to give

he sang his song

we give him honor,
love,
sweet memory

and like him
with no regrets
we all should live
we all should sing

we are his
he is ours
we live with him
ever and all
all and ever
evermore

no, I have no regrets

Thorns and Blood (El Poeta Revisits New York)

Alive! (Un Milagro!)
Federico Garcia Lorca
bursts, laughing,
from the pavement
in front of Trump Tower!

El Maestro declaims on CNN—

“Poets, like thorns, make us feel!
Poems, like blood, flow.
Poets' blood may flow
Poets, like roses, may die 
And disappear into the earth
So more thorns may grow
So more poems may flow.”

[Como no me he preocupado de nacer, no me preocupo de morir.
     As I have not worried to be born, I do not worry to die.
     —Quoted in "Diálogos de un caricaturista salvaje," 
     interview with Luis Bagaría, El Sol, Madrid (1936-06-10)]

bill_nevins
Bill Nevins

The old Irish ballad “Molly Malone (Alive, alive-oh!)” was the first poem Bill Nevins recalls hearing, softly sung to him in childhood by his great grandmother, Anna Kiley Eagle, (herself a proud immigrant to America from the County Tipperary). Nevins has been following that songline, more or less, ever since.

Born in August 1947 into a Stamford, Connecticut family of cops, fire fighters and military vets, Nevins attended Iona College in New Rochelle, NY on scholarship in the late 1960s and fell in with the boisterous Iona literary circle which included the likes of poets Terence Winch, Paul E. Delaney, Angelo Verga, Michael Palma, Terry Hegarty, Kevin Mallard, Leonard Poggiali, artist Suzanne Atkinson (Delaney) and “American Pie” songwriter Don McLean.

Bill Nevins served as editor of  a controversial campus literary magazine and led a student literary group which brought poet Ed Sanders and then-Presidential candidate Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver to the Iona campus.

Nevins earned an MA from the University of Connecticut and went on to a varied career as educator, social worker, editor and writer. His cultural journalism has appeared in New Mexico and national publications. Nevins visited Ireland during the turmoil of the early 1970s-1980s and became a public activist for peace and reconciliation.

A grandfather and the father of two now-adult daughters (Maeve, Raven) and a son (Liam) and two grandsons. Liam, a US Army Special Forces Sgt FC, died in combat in Afghanistan in September, 2013.

Bill Nevins has always found time to write and perform poetry. His poems have appeared in many New Mexico and national and international anthologies, magazines and online sites. He has read his poetry at Telluride Talking Gourds, The Maple Leaf in New Orleans (most recently on January 1, 2017), The Bowery Poetry Cafe, Cornelia Street Cafe and Rocky Sullivan’s Pub in NY City, at Taos Poetry Circus and at poetry slams and open mics across the country.

A collection of Bill Nevins’s poems, Heartbreak Ridge, was published in 2014 by Swimming With Elephants Publications.

Bill Nevins is featured in the award-winning 2007  documentary feature film, Committing Poetry in Times of War, now available on dvd via Netflix and at www.committingpoetry.com .

Bill Nevins lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has taught in area secondary schools, at CNM and at UNM Valencia Campus, where he also curates the annual Valencia Leading Edge Film Festival. He organizes the ongoing Resolana series of public poetry forums and has hosted several open mic readings.

Nevins is still searching for Molly Malone’s ghostly wheelbarrow.

One thought on “Bill Nevins | 3 poems

  1. I seem incapable of posting my comments. WordPress rejects my corrected e-mail address and I don’t want to try a fourth time.

    In Nevins’s poems, a parent’s fierce love burns with unspeakable grief.

    Thanks for these poems.

    Mary Dudley

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

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