About skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

Ding Dong

Oh they’ll take the wind out of you eventually. “They” being the gods and/or the viruses. Wave your spoon. “Mama! The invisible ones are stealing my breeze of inspiration!”

Ding Dong.

“Who’s there?”

“The Baba Yaba!”

“What do you want?”

“I’m here to collect your breeze of inspiration.”

(Sound of chicken legs….)

As near as I can tell the meaning of life lies in protecting both figurative and literal inspiring.

Thoughts one has during a respiratory pandemic.

Lawrence’s Apples

The sense of adventure is strong on me as it is for all living things. Wasn’t it Auden who said the roses really want to grow?

Last night under the oaks I sensed it from the branches. The coming minutes are heady and unbounded. This is steepened by knowing no two people are alike, no two trees. As a boy I often lay face down in the grass. I didn’t have anyplace to go. Because of my blindness other children shunned me. But I got it: staying still was exploit.

Grasping this is luck. Keeping it alive is work throughout a life as the older poets know. I swear this luck-hoard successfully kept is why crows descend daily to the roof of Coleridge’s tomb.

Whatever you do, don’t be sentimental. The roses want to grow but even they have aphids. Nature knows how to stomp your adventure before you get started. You can be forgiven a dark joke. Why do orphans like playing tennis? Because it’s the only love they get. Basho: ah the pine tree, another thing that will never be my friend.

The decayed rowboat still seats laboring souls. Adventure stays if the poet discerns it.

What’s aspiration? Things are not what they seem. Lawrence’s apples are mystic. Eat one. I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.

Penny Lane

Last summer I rode up and down Penny Lane in Liverpool with a cab driver who sounded remarkably like Ringo. I got him laughing when I said the seagulls Merseyside were like hoodlums—tough and enormous. There’s a laughter in Liverpool, the kind I like, it emanates from the scoured provincial streets.


I exited the cab and was nearly hit by a cheese truck. A cheese lorrie. Blessed are the Cheese Makers.


My dear friend Bill Peace had just died. He was a scholar, a disability rights activist, a wheel chair user, a sportsman, a lover of life. I was in Liverpool walking by myself probing with a white cane, traveling without my guide dog—all that British paperwork who needs it, and I wept in the shadow of a maritime building beside the river.


Crossing streets is a Hemingway affair for the blind. One thinks of “death in the afternoon” for each engagement with traffic is dangerous, straightening, and to use a fancy term “architectonic”—there are multiple simultaneous narratives and aspirations in blind life at every street corner.


Walking old Liverpool, thinking of Bill, poking with my cane, stepping into unfamiliar roads, thinking of how precious and unpredictable every step is. Even thuggish seagulls had advantages over me. And walking past the John Lennon art museum with its hypertrophic twenty foot letters spelling “Imagine” I pointed my stick in the air and said, loudly enough to be heard, “imagine what, John? That there’s no heaven? Imagine that it’s easy? Try walking Penny Lane when you can’t see, you prat!’

As I said, I wept in the shadow of a maritime building beside the river. I thought about Auden who joked about the British idea of heaven which would look like a well ordered London but cleaner….

I wept and laughed alternately.

Thought: no one’s an atheist in a foxhole. Gave myself permission to think of heaven when crossing streets.


Penny Lane

O Lady of Zephyrium…

Poor poet, has to write, trees turning green
Leaves like yellow smoke
Nostalgia in the very eyes
Doesn’t matter, he or she poet
Wistful dizzy wants to wrap the old arms
Around a certain oak
My friend, I’ll be back…

I kid you not, I kid you not…


After reading Wallace Stevens
Its time for a palette cleanser…


The ardent period of life
Just now
Drinking water


Dear mother, if I could conjure you
I’d take you fishing again
Sink the rowboat again
Sit in the shallows with you again
Laughing as perch we’d caught
Swim away….


A game I play picturing business men
As birds—whippoorwills, grackles,
Magpies eating everything…

An old shell am I, O Lady of Zephyrium…

The Great Caruso

So I go around in the bucket of my skull,
Free will, predestination, foot odors, love life regrets,
A clattering pipe in the wall,
Scraps of poems flaring like match heads—
In all shapes
He found a secret and mysterious soul,

A fragrance and a spirit of strange meaning.
Perhaps my bucket has a leak,
Likely some rust…
Like Wordsworth I’m more than happy
In the childhoods—
In my grandmother’s attic with a Victrola.
How odd, its needle like the proboscis
Of an insect, the platter covered with green baize
As if one might throw down poker chips instead of a record.
It was most certainly a gambler’s machine.
I’d put the needle on a fast spinning disc
To hear something uncanny…arias and folk songs
Sung by dead people.
The wind up mechanism with its crank…

Jokes From Under the Couch

Wordsworth’s shoes warn’t no dancer’s dainties
His frock possessed nothing of the saintly.
Poems will always defy the haberdash
In William’s case he also earned some cash…


In a silly mood just own it. Shove Wittgenstein under the sofa.
“A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.”

But only under the couch….


There are many jokes devised on couches I’m certain
And more than a few came from behind the curtains.
Of men, jokes that start on mattresses
Generally lead to fratricides….
Steal this if you must
In jokes we trust….

“Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.”
Don ’t I know it, Wittgenstein.
Let’s not drink the turpentine.
Not today at any rate.
“Don’t for heaven’s sake, be afraid of talking nonsense!
But you must pay attention to your nonsense.”


People on TV tearing each other apart…
Fifty years ago, people on TV tearing each other apart.
America, always like a dog at bay.
As James Tate said,
“and the Cokes were far far away….”

Thinking of Dante While Getting Old

Shoe, I have not loved you with my whole heart;
Truss, I fear you’re coming…

Emergence of old age.

Dante: “we call shaggy all words that are ornamental.”
Ornaments of this aging vulgar tongue…
Pray the noblest words alone remain in the sieve….

For Dante, language was new—his language, the juicy vernacular. English ain’t so new anymore. “Make it new, make it new,” he cries, waving his stick. That “he” is me.

Spoon me some glottal stops, shout me some noble ballate.
Had me a literary education. Learned about recitations charmingly delivered. But by night I kicked frozen turds on the icy street. In those days I talked to anyone. Fable fable.

Gettin’ old. Just want to rest my head on the bosom of moral philosophy. Ain’t that the way of it? Start and end with moldy books.