The Daily: 13 April 2023

I’ve been reading Art Goodtimes’, Dancing on the Edge: The McRedeye Poems, during my morning meditation time. This collection draws out laughter and head-shaking, tears and hope. Goodtimes, himself, is an intriguingly contradictory person. He studied to be a Roman Catholic priest and then turned rather feral on points of religion. His poetry reveals a pagan heart. His political leanings are decidedly anarchist, but he spent five terms as a county commissioner in Colorado. He is co-editor of Sage Green Journal, a celebration of Western poetry, and has published several books of poetry, but he is also a newspaper man, formerly an editor, currently a regular columnist for several Colorado publications. And just to round out the description, he is a grandpa and widower who has been poet-in-residence of the Telluride Mushroom Festival for four decades.

McRedeye is Art’s coyote alter-ego. In conversation with Art, the laughing trickster dispenses advice and wisdom and snide observations on human nature. ‘McRedeye sez’ is the introduction to many an apt non-sequitur.

                                               Whose fatwa ox
                                           are we sacrificing here?
                                           Good gods or bad gods?

                                               McRedeye sez, So
                                       anthropomorphic! Come on
                                     gods are just gasses on steroids

In my favorite poem, ‘Make Peace’, Art and McRedeye deal out a superlative description the ‘Radical Middle’, that space where Others gather from all points on the political kaleidoscope to work at doing life together, a space we all will be inhabiting shortly. Of his long experience hashing out compromises in local politics — the face-kind where your next-door neighbor might be seated opposite you at the bargaining table — Goodtimes writes

                                                  Or is it simply
                                                 a failure of nerve?

                                                 This unwillingness
                                                  to allow the Other
                                                    in all her guises
                                                   all his gyrations

                                                     not to become
                                                       our friends

                                           Or perhaps, McRedeye sez
                                                    it's that grand
                                            hardscrabble mistake of
                                                learning love last

This is not pretentious poetry, nor is it pretty. These are words that open eyes and hearts, some with gentle prying, some with claws and exclamations. These are the words from the outside. As McRedeye sez in ‘To Hell You Ride’

                                                welcome to the club
                                                   we don't belong to

which is ended on a universal truth:

                                               you can't buy beauty
                                                     Just access to it

You can also learn to see beauty in the scraggly, ragged-eared coyotes who dance around the edges of our culture — and this collection is the instruction manual.

©Elizabeth Anker 2023

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