At the Beach with Sylvia Plath

Photo of Sylvia Plath from Gordon Ames Lameyer Papers probably from the Summer of 1953.

Sylvia Plath during a beach holiday in 1953, three years before she met Ted Hughes, and 10 years before her death. (photo from the Gordon Ames Lameyer Papers)

Even some who never read your poetry,
know about your suicide, troubled marriage, depression,
and life in the bell jar vacuum.

This cold day, I see you young,
a happy, blonde, dreaming on a beach.

Known and Unknown



A young boy seeing visions around him –

God in the window, angels in trees –

writing them into poems and painting them.

In life, pictor ignotus, considered likely insane,

knowing that imagination is human existence itself.


William Blake "Christ in the Sepulchre, Guarded by Angels"

William Blake “Christ in the Sepulchre, Guarded by Angels”

Geronimo [after Gary Snyder]

After the reading, talking briefly to you

and recalling another time – when I, Steve and

you shared coffee conversation – you remembered me.

A wonderful lie. We are men, and

we jump like paratroopers and shout Geronimo.



Terrance Hayes invented a poetry form he calls the Golden Shovel. You take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire, and use each word in the line (or lines) as an end word in your poem while maintaining the order. So, if you choose a line with six words, your poem would be six lines long. (A stanza with 24 words yields a poem of 24 lines long.)  Give credit to the original poet.

I chose a poem by Gary Snyder called “Changing Diapers” and used his line “you and me and Geronimo.” My poem came out of a brief walking talk with Snyder recently when he read at the Dodge Poetry Festival in New Jersey. It also recalls a longer conversation we had at another Dodge Festival more than 20 years ago.  A Golden Shovel poem does not have to be about the same subject as the poem you used, but it might have a connection.

Walking to the Office With Wallace Stevens

Walking two miles today, I imagined

walking to Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company

with Wallace Stevens, not talking surety claims.

He says, “After one has abandoned belief in god,

poetry takes its place as life’s redemption.”

The quote in my poem appears in a slightly different form
in Steven’s book Opus Posthumous: Poems, Plays, Prose.