"Listening to the Poet Seamus Heaney"*

 

(A poem) by Dipo Kalejaiye**

 

At Berkley,

Where I sit

Contemplating the hills

I listen to the Poet

A raspy reading from “NORTH”

Catches my attention

 I suspend the hills

And listen to his music

The smiling face

The disheveled silver hair

Crying for a comb

Which keeps falling to his face

The elbows on the table

And the effervescence smile

Are all from an Irish meadow

I brace myself

I have no shovel

To dig

As he did

In “Digging”

Conjuring up

Old images

Of his father

And grandfather

Those Irish Potato Farmers

So I brace myself.

 

Now I smell the aroma of green tea

In the other room

Cake is served as well

Tea - cakes competing

With soul food

But the soul food

Is cryptic

Then he goes deeper

And fixes his gaze on me

Ever smiling

Still reading from “NORTH”

So we drink tea

As we travel north

Like the Vikings

 

 

Our boats set sail

Only now

The Celtic rhythms

Of the journey North

Seems clearer

His ever-smiling face

Pierces through the spectacles

Hanging

At the tip of his nose

He’s got four eyes now!

Two to look at me

And two to read his poems

It is daunting

To listen to a Poet

With four eyes

If you count the eyes

On the inside

You may be dealing with

A Poet with six eyes

Now that is food for thought!

 

 

Outside

I hear the throbbing drums

Of Hare Krishna

The rhythms

Are competing with North

How does one listen to

The rhythm of a Poet

And that of Hare Krishna?

The Krishna rhythm is intensive

I hear: “Hare, hare, hare, hare

               Krishna, Krishna, hare, hare, hare!”

That was the solo

Then a choral refrain rises to crescendo

And I hear: “Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Krishna

                        Hare, Hare, Hare, Hare, Hare!”

I peer through the window

Now that the winds have blown

The lace blinds out of place

 I see a huge man

Attempting an erotic dance

Berkeley girls

With lots to show

Surround him

They are like the nymphs

Around Dionysus

Oh what a bacchanal

Dancing maidens

Dancing drunk

Yet the huge man

Doesn’t drink alcohol

And he is a Vegetarian!

 

 

The blinds are back in place

The Berkeley winds are calm

The Hare Krishna rhythm

Is a lonely whine from afar

Perhaps they are going home

Tired and with their new converts

Dionysus and the Berkeley girls

I listen to the Poet.

 

 

You have a “great style” he says

And compares my “THE FATHER OF SECRETS”

To Frederico Garcia Lorca’s

“BLOOD WEDDING”

I listen

Perhaps

The Father of Secrets

And Lorca

Will make a great team

As I contemplate this

He hands me Lorca’s play

Signed in his handwriting

This simply says:

“To Oladipo

SLAMTE!”

 

 

NOTE:

*(The Irish Poet SEAMUS HEANEY taught Professor Dipo Kalejaiye when he was a student at the University of California at Berkeley. Heaney was awarded the NOBEL PRIZE for literature in 1995. Seamus Heaney now teaches at Harvard University.)

 

** (Professor DIPO KALEJAIYE is an Associate Professor in the English Department. He is a Poet/Playwright and a recipient of the Ina Coolbirth prize for Poetry, and The James.D. Phelan Award for playwriting.)