portion of George Moore artwork

George Moore’s Comments

“From a Short Distance” is one of few poems I’ve written that tries to deal with my stepbrother’s death four years ago. John Eisele was a forensic pathologist, and loaned himself out from his jobs at the coroner’s office in Seattle, and then San Diego, to help out on special cases, like the St. Helen’s eruption, the Bosnia mass graves, and Heaven’s Gate cult suicides. We shared a fascination with human struggle, and the fringes of human understanding. I was on a motorcycle trip across the West, headed up above Oregon to visit some friends when I found out he was back in the hospital with his cancer returning. I turned south from the Oregon/Washington border and rode hard to get to Sacramento before he died. But the weather was hellish, worse rainstorm I’ve ever ridden through, lasted about three days, and I made it down just after he was gone. But the journey, which was not unlike some of our adventures together, spur of the moment needs to connect, and meeting up in strange places, became itself something of a memorial to him for me. I think the poem slides in and out of places (the coast) and memories in an attempt to thread together what I was feeling on those three days and our life together, since we were teenagers when his father married my mother. We never were very talkative together, but there was always a sort of unspoken understanding. I wanted the poem to somehow do something of the same.

“Children’s Drawings of the Universe” was inspired by an article I came across somewhere, and had to send to my sister, who is a child psychologist. It was about children’s ideas on the universe. Her specialty is children’s drawings and how they relate to childhood abuse. I started thinking about how a child possibly sees the idea of eternity, the sky that is the eye’s limit of the world. Can they image something beyond the edge of nothing? I’ve always wondered. I think we all explore the limits of the universe in our imaginations, but then we are all changed by our lives, our societies, by how we understand others and our place among them. So a child’s sense of eternity, or the universe (which is not eternal, of course—so the child who paints it all as one enclosed brilliant sky may actually have a better sense of the reality than most adults do), seems less tainted by conditioning, more open to the pure amazement of space. Space still amazes me. So does time. I wish I were that child again, but only perhaps in order to absorb the marvel of the unthought limits of existence. But then the poem is aware of the human darkness as well, of the world of relationships that the child cannot always put into pictures or words.

“I Am Impossibly Accidental” is my alter life, the one I would have had had I settled down straight out of college and had a daughter with any one of the crazy but wonderful women I knew back then. The poem lets me play with the idea of the other life, the one that bifurcates just after you make some small, seemingly insignificant decision, and everything goes a completely different way, but you never know it. I’m more aware of those possible moments than many, I think. I keep thinking, is this what changes everything? So in a perfect time warp of my own previous relationships, the accident would be the real me.

“Anniversaries in April” is a difficult poem for me, like the one for my stepbrother. It is a poem for two friends from college, both very close friends with each other and with me. All part of the same crazy crowd. Sherri Smith disappeared one night on a drive home in Oregon, along the Snake River above Hells Canyon, and the event greatly affected Donna Dewhurst, who was struggling with cancer at the age of thirty. She wasn’t found in the river for nearly two months. Donna took a turn for the worse that most of us saw as part of this double tragedy and died weeks before Sherri was found. And I drove all night to get to Salt Lake and spend a couple days with Donna, and to be there for her son’s fifth birthday, just before she died. It is strange to me that I am always drawn back to poetry when the occasion demands that no words can really express what the feelings are. This poem emerged, changed, went underground, and resurfaced recently, always nagging at me to not say so much, to not try so hard. Those blackbirds really said it all anyway. They were sitting on this small sapling tree in the backyard the day after I arrived, when a deep snow had fallen the night before. More than a symbol to me, they were the reality somehow. Winter when we don’t expect it, and the suddenness of change when we see it coming from a long way off.

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