Sometimes Poets: a Poem by Chuck Kinder

by    /  November 2, 2012  / 2 Comments

molly maguires

An illustration depicting James McParland and the Molly Maguires, from the San Fransisco Call, published on November 26th, 1911. Photo: The Library of Congress

On October 22nd, Sampsonia Way published an interview with Pittsburgh writer Chuck Kinder. Kinder, who taught in the University of Pittsburgh’s Creative Writing department for 30 years, is the author of four novels, including Last Mountain Dancer: Hard-Earned Lessons in Love, Loss, and Honky-Tonk Outlaw Life (Carroll and Graff). He has also written numerous poems, some of which are featured in his forthcoming collection Giant Night.

Today, Sampsonia Way presents Kinder’s poem, “Sometimes Poets.”


The Molly Maguires (1970), Starring Sean Connery as “Black Jack” Kehoe, the union organizer and leader of The Molly Maguires, a secret organization of Irish coal miners established in the 19th century to fight oppressive mine owners, and Richard Harris as James McParlan the company spy disguised as an undercover Irish poet-type packed with the postures of pain and philosophy. Set in late 19th-century Northeastern Pennsylvania, this social drama tells the story of an undercover detective sent to a coal mining community to expose the Molly Maguires, and coldly betrays the group whose leader he has befriended.

Sometimes Poets Arrive In Town On Trains, Late At Night, or Poem With Soundtrack By Henry Mancini, Employing Irish Modal Harmony, Played By Period Instruments Including The Irish Harp, Penny Whistle, And Squeezebox

Poets may be unprepossessing in appearance
Wearing, say, a simple, threadbare suit
A soft, slouch cap, a bowtie
Perfect strangers, poets gravitate
Toward the warm lights
Of the lone tavern in town
Looking for the company of working men
New best friends and comrades
And information to use to send
These new best friends and comrades
To the gallows
Poets appear to be friendly enough
If somewhat shy
Poets give short answers
To questions
Poets cultivate an air of mystery
Poets pretend that they have something
To hide
Which they do of course
Only not what they pretend
They do
Poets are capable of kicking
Some serious ass. Poets have quick hands
Soft or not
Poets fight dirty. Poets gouge eyes and kick
Their opponents in the balls
Or teeth
If given half the chance
Poets don’t go down easily
Poets get back up again and again
Poets gain grudging respect
Which is the first step
Toward trust
Which is finally
All that Poets live for
Poets appear to care
Poets appear to be tenderhearted
Poets can carry a tune
Poets sing lovely, old Irish ballads
Poets have handsome if somewhat battered
Faces. Poets have essentially sad
Faces, and sensuous
Sensitive mouths and eyes as blue
As bruises
Poets are soulful
Poets look like spies, which is what they essentially are
Poets pull their weight underground
Working with their miner brothers
In the dark. Walking home after a hard dayshift
Down in the hole, Poets stop to play ball
With boys in the muddy street. It seems to be always
About to rain or raining in the sad, grim
Tragic, little town, which was saved from demolition because of the movie being set there, and made into a Mining museum. whose dripping, dark houses depress
The spirits of the Poet
And force the Poet to reflect upon
How essentially lonely the Poet is
Poets brood over their beers
Late into the night at the tavern. Poets appear
To have a lot to forget. Poets appear to be full
Of regret. Poets appear to understand the nature
Of loss. Poets can hold their booze
Poets have a way with words
But Poets hide in what they say
Poets are devious and honest
Equally. Poets tell true lies
In their eternal struggle
To keep their stories straight
Poets come to believe totally in everything
They make up
Poets are charming. Poets are romantic
Poets take their girls
On romantic picnics in the woods
Poets entertain their girls, the lovely Miss Mary Raines in this case, played by the lovely Samantha Eggar With touching
Funny stories about childhoods
They never had. Poets are well-read
Poets impress their girls
With memorized poems. poets say enigmatic things
To their girls like
I envy you your morality and that’s the truth. But you can buy decency and
The law like a loaf of bread
Poets remain riddles to their girls
Poets are great kissers

Poets Never Get Enough, Poem With Capital Punishment
Poets thrive on rebellion
Poets get caught up in
Rebellion’s wonder and excitement
A Poet must become more like his enemy
Than his enemy is.
Finally Poets
Cannot fake
All of their feelings
Poets must come to truly love and join
What they are set upon betraying
Poets must believe that they live charmed lives
And that they will never deserve to die
Poets are beyond dreams of redemption
Poets are philosophical
Poets appreciate the beauty of the sacrificial impulse
Finally what poets seek is forgiveness
Even love, from those they have betrayed
Awaiting execution, Black Jack Kehoe tells his erstwhile friend and ally, McParlan, whom he has come to love like a brother, that no punishment short of hell can redeem his treachery. McParlan retorts that in that case, “I’ll see you in Hell.”
Punishment is what poets truly seek
Poets never get enough

2 Comments on "Sometimes Poets: a Poem by Chuck Kinder"

  1. Jasmeen Khan May 4, 2013 at 3:42 am ·

    It is a mouthpiece to all who write poetry. It’s a lovely write.

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