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Original Poem: "Alex as Artist" with Commentary

Updated on May 12, 2018
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Writing poetry became my major composing activity circa 1962, and taking a creative writing class in 1963-64 deepened my growing interest.

Alex, aka Albo

Source

Introduction and Text of Poem, "Alex as Artist"

Linda Sue Grimes’ poem, "Alex as Artist," is an American sonnet," which appears in her third collection of poems titled Turtle Woman & Other Poems. It describes the speaker’s experience with the family dog, lovingly nicknamed "Albo."

Alex, aka Albo, was a precious dog, who spent some time on this earthly realm from September 23, 1988, until August 11, 2002. Dogs live a perfect metaphor for love, for buoyancy, for divinity. Spell dog backwards and you have G-o-d.

Thus, what is more poetic than a dog?

Alex as Artist

“It’s a dog’s life.”

When he curls up beside me on the couch and settles into steady breathing,
his ease of comfort flows like a polished sonnet.
He has mastered the art of comfort.

When I cook, he perfects his craft of begging. Taking bits of food off
the ends of fingers requires precise placement of teeth and tongue.
He's mastered the art of eating.

Some say he's cowardly, but he's just careful.
The artist's eye and ear perceive the world to be a dangerous place,
so he's crafty to run from loud noises and sudden moves.

Some say he's dumb, but he's just deliberate.
He wants to keep body and soul together
and retire a well-matured craftsman.

Unlike schemers, shams, and fantasizers, he takes his art quite literally,
and he has learned to simplify: beg food, bark, and sleep sleep sleep.

Commentary

First Movement: "When he curls up beside me on the couch and settles into steady breathing"

When he curls up beside me on the couch and settles into steady breathing,
his ease of comfort flows like a polished sonnet.
He has mastered the art of comfort.

The speaker sits on the couch doing God-knows-what and the family dog nestles beside her sleeping while she does whatever it is she does, perhaps read, write, watch TV, doesn’t matter.

She observes that the sweet dog has can rest, and his rhythmic breathing reminds her of a "polished sonnet.” She concludes that Alex, aka Albo, has mastered “the art of comfort” — an art that humans an only dream of.

Second Movement: "When I cook, he perfects his craft of begging. Taking bits of food off"

When I cook, he perfects his craft of begging. Taking bits of food off
the ends of fingers requires precise placement of teeth and tongue.
He's mastered the art of eating.

Have you ever noticed that some dogs will almost bite off your finger when you offer them a tidbit? You quickly learn to toss the tidbit instead of simply offering it off the tips of your fingers. This sweet dog seems to have a knack for taking those tidbits without lopping off digits. Again, the speaker finds this unique creature an artist, a craftsman in eating.

Third Movement: "Some say he's cowardly, but he's just careful"

Some say he's cowardly, but he's just careful.
The artist's eye and ear perceive the world to be a dangerous place,
so he's crafty to run from loud noises and sudden moves.

Ah, the individual personalities of dogs! It appears that this Albo has been labeled a coward, but the speaker wishes to differ: he’s just being careful. The world is a dangerous place. We all have to be careful. Godammit, does that make us all cowards?

Fourth Movement: "Some say he's dumb, but he's just deliberate"

Some say he's dumb, but he's just deliberate.
He wants to keep body and soul together
and retire a well-matured craftsman.

Again, what’s with the prejudicial name calling? He’s not “dumb" — he takes care, slowly considering his options. He wants to live as long as he can, who doesn’t?

Fifth Movement: "Unlike schemers, shams, and fantasizers, he takes his art quite literally"

Unlike schemers, shams, and fantasizers, he takes his art quite literally,
and he has learned to simplify: beg food, bark, and sleep sleep sleep.

This precious animal is the genuine article. He’s no Robert Bly of poetry, no Hillary Clinton of politics. He’s not a fake. He takes life and living it quite “literally," that is, quite seriously. And most important of all, he is quite Thoreauvian in his craftsmanship: he has learned the efficacy of simplicity.

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Linda Sue Grimes, SRF Lake Shrine, Windmill Chapel

Source

Life Sketch of Linda Sue Grimes

The Windmill Chapel

In the temple of silence
By the lake, we sit
In stillness, meditating
In divine Bliss.

Returning to our daily minds,
We walk out into the sunshine,
And the flowers greet us.

The Literary Life

Born Linda Sue Richardson on January 7, 1946, to Bert and Helen Richardson in Richmond, Indiana, Linda Sue grew up about eight miles south of Richmond in a rustic setting near the Ohio border.

After graduating from Centerville Senior High School in Centerville, Indiana, in 1964, she completed her baccalaureate degree with a major in German at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1967. She married Ronald Grimes on March 10, 1973.

As a writer, Grimes focuses on poetry, short fiction, politics, spirituality, and vegan/vegetarian cooking, which results in her original veggie recipes.

Literary Studies

Although music was her first love, Grimes considers herself primarily a literary specialist as she creates her own poetry, studies the poetry and literary arts of classic writers, and writes commentaries about classic poems.

However, Grimes does continue to express her love of music by writing her own original songs, which she records, accompanying herself on guitar or keyboard. She shares her musical compositions at SOUNDCLOUD.

After completing the PhD degree in British, American, and World Literature with a cognate in Rhetoric/Composition at Ball State University in 1987, Grimes taught English composition in the English Department at BSU as a contractual assistant professor from 1987 until 1999.

Publishing History

Grimes has published poems in many literary journals, including Sonoma Mandala, Rattle, and The Bellingham Review. She has published three books of poems: Singing in the Silence, Command Performance, and Turtle Woman & Other Poems, and a book of fables titled Jiggery-Jee's Eden Valley Stories.

Grimes published her first cookbook in the spring of 2013, titled The Rustic Veggie-Table: 100 Vegan Recipes. She is working on a second cookbook and her fourth book of poems.

Currently, at Owlcation, Grimes (Maya Shedd Temple) posts her poetry commentaries. On LetterPile, she shares her creative writing of poems and short fiction, along with prose commentaries on each piece. She posts recipes resulting from her experimental cooking of vegan/vegetarian dishes. on Delishably. She posts her politically focused pieces at Soapboxie, and her commentaries focusing on music at Spinditty. Pieces on the writing process appear at Hobbylark.

Spirituality

Linda Sue Grimes has been a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda and a member of his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship, since 1978. A Kriyaban since 1979, she has completed the four Kriya Initiations, and she continues to study the teachings and practice the yoga techniques as taught by the great spiritual leader, who is considered to be the "Father of Yoga in the West."

Grimes practices the chants taught by the guru accompanying herself on the harmonium. She serves at her local SRF Meditation Group as one of the chant leaders.

Online Literary Presence

In addition to the contributions of her literary works to Owlcation, LetterPile, and SOUNDCLOUD, Grimes also curates her original creative literary pieces at her literary home, Maya Shedd Temple, on Medium, where she features her creative writing without commentaries.

Grimes also maintains an additional online presence on Facebook and Twitter.

© 2015 Linda Sue Grimes

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