Three poems into his chapbook, Win Po, and three lines into "O My Words," Frank Parker invokes long-gone poet Lew Welch: "a ring of bone," from the title of a touchstone lyric by Lew, and of his posthumous Collected Poems.
The last line is in diction Lew would've dug: "adobe yellow wall"
But its not just little homages that make the poem. Line by line, in any case, Frank makes 'em fit together, with a touch light enough it seems careless at times, part of his humor: "a flute, a reed/cut from roots/a ring of bone/everyday air/skinny bird song/Palo Verde limbs/cats walk up and down/adobe yellow wall"
That's it. It's dedicated to Luis Garcia, another humorous, spare poet, but Lu's gone out on a different sort of limb: living to sing about it.
Frank Parker sings about it from living, breezily sometimes, the lines directed to this or that friend, family member ... some of them poets.
David Gitin, poet and Frank's longtime Monterey neighbor--a crosstown neighbor--and frequent presence on frankshome.org, a website hosting a community of poems and poets, is dedicatee of "Letters from Tucson," where Frank's corresponding from, now: "when I wake it's dark/light coming soon//see you then//your friend"
Another poet, Michael McClure, is recipient of "Song": "breathe deep/blue sky//feathered edge/of nitrogen"
Finally, "Mirror in a Garden," for his daughter: "I reach for my cup/and the birds scatter."
Eleven poems, an odd number, with the qualifier, "a work in progress."
It's progress, in the sense of moving through the landscape, one he came to late, where he's seen much, once settled in.
What's exhilarating in Win Po is that rare sense of somebody finding himself, his voice--both at once--yet taking another step, and another, not stopping.
These are perceptions on the move, not snapshots so much, like the often-faded imitations of Imagism. No scent of the workshop; more like witch hazel. Bracing.
Frank's book's from Obscure Press, 34 1/2W. Kennedy St., Tucson, AZ. 85701-2202. If you get it, ask for it signed--and get him to initial the colophon, too: Frank's the printer.