A n n e   W a l d m a n :   K e e p i n g   T h e   W o r l d   S a f e   F o r   P o e t r y

N a p a l m   H e a l t h   S p a :   R e p o r t   2 0 1 5 :   S p e c i a l   E d i t i o n







Anne Waldman on the cover of David Cope’s

Big Scream # 47 poetry mag, January 2009.

Photo by Kai Sibley.




For Anne at 70


today winds battered old growth oaks,

split aging boughs from trunks—

crashing, thumping across wilderness,


in the swamplands and along banks

thru this darkness of mounds &

manitous, the voices singing within.


I thought of you at 70, all the mornings

rising to teach, to read, to catch another

flight, surrounded by young poets looking


for visions, intense in listening, quiet

the first time I met you—mobbed by

hysterical TAs wanting answers NOW—


your calm undisturbed, picking and

choosing responses, that quiet sureness

becoming theirs in the sunlit moment.



I remember too that ferocious

crack in the world torrent of

words on fire, syllables crackling


in the audience’s ears in a basement

bookstore reading in Boulder,

or amazed on a Lake Michigan shore


looking across to horizon line

beyond which Milwaukee must be—

 “this is no lake—it’s an inland sea!”


then too you rescued Jim in his lost dream,

came to Morgan when she lost Chris,

quiet kindness measured to their needs.


now seven decades on, now

the wise elder shepherd to flocks of

crazed poets, dreamers with fists of angst,



you remain a signal bearer of light

in this opening Kali Yuga, heart

daughter and mother, seer, prophet,


good friend who graced others with

kindness.   as I pass millennial

mounds, tossing oak boughs above,


great blow downriver where a fisherman’s

craft is buffeted toward rocks & fallen

timbers, I pause at the bridge to bow


in four directions & push off for

swan ponds & herds of leaping deer,

giving thanks for your touch, in memory,


in the patterns of my own life.  be merry

Anne, you’ve earned it, earned love of peers,

the yet-to-be scribed songs of the untamed heart.