“the oxford companion to modern poetry”

the oxford companion to modern poetry

…the major part of his verse is published on his very sparsely visited WordPress blog.
He is still part of the Romantic school even though this mode has long been repudiated.
His work lumbers through the same recurring themes over and over again —
the failed (or failing) romance, the ever popular carpe diem trope and a kind of bitter melancholic nostalgia that this reviewer, for one, finds distasteful.
An early instructive example is “Astrophysics (Halley’s Poem)”.
Here the lover is unflatteringly compared to Halley’s Comet.
She left the poet in 1986 traveling at high rate of speed and the grandiose Galileo quotation would only gild the lily if there was a lily to gild.
His more recent work such as “And the operator said, ‘May I help you please?’” again finds the poet au fait with loving and losing.
Poems such as these have this reviewer wondering whether Tennyson’s famous aphorism is generally applicable.
Providentially his verse is interlarded with songs from the 1970s (the poet’s salad days) and occasionally (and regrettably) some hair metal classics.
We do not expect a volume of his collected works at this time but anticipate further elaboration of these leitmotifs on his blog.

— J.S.


Poem to my 18-year-old self

These sharp Springs
Matter most
After years
Will be time enough to sleep
Carefulness and tears

Now while life is raw and new,
Drink it clear, drink it deep!
Let the moonlight’s lunacy
Tear away your cautions…

Never fear,
Age will catch you…

Only graven in your soul
After all the rest is gone
There will be ecstasies,
These alone

— John Weaver, To Youth (excerpt)



His creativity increasingly extended to music. Though he never took formal piano lessons, he could pound out a simple melody by ear. “Even when he was a little kid,” remembered his sister Kim, “he could sit down and just play something he’d heard on the radio. He was able to artistically put whatever he thought onto paper or into music.”

—Charles R. Cross, Heavier Than Heaven


“Portraits” (V-VIII)

“Portraits” (V-VIII)

(John Keats)

The thought of her
in that darkest winter
fevered torment
but your eternal summer
will not fade

(Jane Dornacker)

You did not know me
but I was always listening
and when I lost you
I pulled my car over to the side of the road
and prayed

(Hans Castorp)

As Spender said of Eliot,
A wonderful poet disguised as a businessman.
Just ask Clavdia.

(F. Scott Fitzgerald)

A romantic resting against a mantelpiece clock.
You were right, Scott—
the past is forever.



“Portraits” (I-IV)

“Portraits” (I-IV)

(Van Temple)

I saw you singing that song again
and I thought of art
burning like a flame
through time and tide
and I was driving with the radio on

(Arland D. Williams Jr.)

When you boarded the plane
Did the other passengers recognize you?

(Samuel Johnson)

Put her letters in the fire
Striven back onto yourself
A place you’ve been before

(Walt Whitman)

When you listened to the aria in New Orleans
Did it unravel and fathom your heart?



Just this once, twice, forever

Know’st thou the excellent joys of youth?
Joys of the dear companions and of the merry word and laughing
Joy of the glad light-beaming day, joy of the wide-breath’d games?
Joy of sweet music…

—Walt Whitman, A Song Of Joys


“You Say Picasso And I Say Pimento” (To Be Sung To The Tune Of “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off”)

“You Say Picasso And I Say Pimento”
(To be sung to the tune of “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off”)

Things have come to a pretty pass
Our romance is growing flat,
For you like this and the other
While I go for this and that,

Goodness knows what the end will be
Oh I don’t know where I’m at
It looks as if we two will never be one
Something must be done:

You say Albert Einstein and I say Dianne Feinstein,
You say Phil Niekro and I say George Knightley
Einstein, Feinstein, Niekro, Knightley
Let’s call the whole thing off.

You like Polanski and I like Pizarro
You like Ptolemy and I like Palladio
Polanski, Pizarro, Ptolemy, Palladio
Let’s call the whole thing off

But oh, if we call the whole thing off
Then we must part
And oh, if we ever part, then that might break my heart

So if you like Polybius and I like Pythagoras
I’ll read Polybius not theorem Pythagoras
For we know we need each other so we
Better call the whole thing off
Let’s call the whole thing off.

You say Hedy Lamarr and I say Dorothy Lamour
You say Bella Abzug and I say Dan Aykroyd
Lamarr, Lamour, Abzug, Aykroyd
Let’s call the whole thing off,

You like Velázquez and I like Herve Villachaize
You Marquis deSade and I Sade
Velázquez, Villachaize, Claus Von Bulow, Abe Vigoda
Let’s call the whole thing off

But oh if we call the whole thing of then we must part
And oh, if we ever part, then that might break my heart

So if you go for Frederick Law Olmsted and I go for Edward James Olmos
I’ll garden Olmsted no Netflix James Olmos
For we know we need each other so we
Better call the calling off off,
Let’s call the whole thing off.

I say Jose Feliciano, and you say Annette Funicello,
I say Chuck Mangioni and you say Guglielmo Marconi
Pavarotti, Pocahontas, Leslie Uggams, that’s my auntie — let’s call the whole thing off!

I like Barbara Bel Geddes and you like Jean Paul Belmondo
I say Herodotus and I get Humperdinck
Bel Geddes, Belmondo, Herodotus, Humperdinck
Go your way, I’ll go mine

So if I go for Schopenhauer and you go for Bill Shoemaker,
So all right no contest we’ll wager Shoemaker
For we know we need each other so we
Better call the calling off off,
Let’s call the whole thing off.