Friday, November 19, 2010


Steve was a friend of mine back when we were students at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop in the 1960s. I liked him immensely. He was a decent, stand-up kind of guy and a decent stand-up kind of poet.

Unfortunately I hadn't been in touch with him for decades, but I knew he was out there, seeing his poems here and there over the years since we'd last seen each other or had a regular correspondence. My condolences to his family and friends and students at the University of Arizona where he taught.

Here's an emblematic poem of his I copied from the Poetry Foundation site (it's called "In The House of the Voice of Maria Callas"):

In the house of the voice of Maria Callas
We hear the baby’s cries, and the after-supper
Rattle of silverware, and three clocks ticking
To different tunes, and ripe plums
Sleeping in their chipped bowl, and traffic sounds
Dissecting the avenues outside. We hear, like water
Pouring over time itself, the pure distillate arias
Of the numerous pampered queens who have reigned,
And the working girls who have suffered
The envious knives, and the breathless brides
With their horned helmets who have fallen in love
And gone crazy or fallen in love and died
On the grand stage at their appointed moments—
Who will sing of them now? Maria Callas is dead,
Although the full lips and the slanting eyes
And flared nostrils of her voice resurrect
Dramas we are able to imagine in this parlor
On evenings like this one, adding some color,
Adding some order. Of whom it was said:
She could imagine almost anything and give voice to it.


Jamie Rose said...

Ah, gorgeous poem. Sorry for your loss Lals.

Robert Berner said...

Lal--This is a bit of a shock, eh? Steve Orlen was a classmate. Thus is The Reaper further taking out our own generation. It started with Frank Polite, it took Morton Marcus, now Orlen. Requiescat.
Bob B.

Lally said...

So it goes.