Greg Hall

Greg Hall: friend, lover of the creative mind & poet extraordinaire

by Bea Garth, copyright 2009

_____________

GREG HALL 1946-2009

Note: There was a Memorial  Celebration of Greg Hall’s life and poetry at the WORKS Gallery in downtown San Jose on July 19th, 2009 at 6 PM 451 S. 1st St., San Jose, CA 95113; phone: 408 256-6250. Friends of his read his poetry and reminisced.  Greg’s brother Rusty began by telling a story about him and Greg in the late nineteen sixties during their early poetry days.  Greg’s daughter Danielle Hall  performed music with Chris Arcus and John Kurtyka.  Bea Garth led a healing circle at the end to give Greg a warmly felt group send off.

Bea also distributed a newly produced chapbook  called “You Can Say Anything” from Greg Hall’s recent poems that she collected with Al Preciado and Robert Pesich–and collated with the help of Chris Arcus and Danielle Hall.  If you are interested in a copy, please contact bgarthart@earthlink.net.

Note: see bottom of article for links to blogs by two friends of Greg’s–F.A. Nettlebeck and Liz Henry.  Also several of Greg’s poems are found underneath this post.

—–

This picture is also being used by the Santa Cruz Weekly and the Metro  for an obit by Stephen Kessler on Greg Hall
“Greg Winking” photo by Bea Garth, copyright 2009. This picture was also used by the Santa Cruz Weekly and the Metro for an obit by Stephen Kessler on Greg Hall

I am still in shock at the passing of  one of my best friend’s — the much loved and talented poet Greg Hall.  He died in his cottage here in San Jose most likely late Monday night or early on Tuesday morning June 23rd 2009, probably from a heart attack.

I said hi to him early Monday evening  when he was bringing back his wash and now wish I had followed my intuition and visited him that evening. I learned later that his old friend Stephen Kessler talked with him at length about things poetic that very day. His daughter Danielle had wished him a happy Father’s Day  Sunday night and my friend Graeme Jones had spoken with him for an hour about politics and culture Sunday morning.

Greg worked at the local county hospital as a schedule clerk .  The staff  worried when he didn’t show up and  found he could not be reached by telephone all day Tuesday and Wednesday morning. They thus sent the police and I opened the door for them early Wednesday afternoon.

Greg was one of those unique people that you don’t find very often — an extraordinarily talented poet with a big heart who also was very private.  He didn’t like all the “hoopla” — something he had all too much of as a young man. Although he appreciated the attention on the one hand, he felt it got in the way of writing poetry on the other. His first book of poetry (Flame People) had an introduction by Robert Bly.  Soon  Greg  got drawn into the “poetry circuit” of which he had both fond and mixed memories.  He still kept up many of his contacts but chose to move away from the more boisterous poetry community in Santa Cruz to lead a more calm life in San Jose for both him and his family.

Despite his enthusiasms, Greg  chose to live what was  in many ways an austere life so he could focus more on what was important to him–writing poetry.  Greg’s interior life was very rich as a result;  he  liked to read  a constant stream of serious writers like Proust,  Mellarme, Fanon, Graves, and Sarte — and listened to the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Muddy Waters and  Hank Williams — all of which he would recycle at the local book and music stores.

Despite his often solitary nature, he reached out to people in the poetry community in ways that really mattered  as well as to his neighbors at the cul-de-sac where he lived.  He was  a very deep soul with a warm heart and wonderful sense of humor –  as also evidenced in both his beautifully crafted and evoked lyric love poems and his ironically self-humorous  “dirty Greggie” poems.

His very last bit of writing is below,  found inside his cottage after he died; it is once again a humorous piece of ’stream of consciousness’. All other writings were sent off to friends, including Walter Martin in Texas whom we hope contacts us very soon. (Note: Be watching this site also for additional poems that he gave me and said Eos could publish.)

SNAKES

Wonder how snakes
got a bad name…
Well you got
Cleopatra
… and all that.
Then you got
the fucking Bible.
…the Bible’s
an iceberg,
it’s melting.
How did I get
into this
anyway?
…I thought
you give
it your all
you get discovered
they publish
your book
it’s over.
That was
30 years ago.
This is looser
than poetry
it’s better
than talking to yourself
it’s monologue
I’m gonna start
writing this shit down.

by Greg Hall,  copyright June 2009

For more info on Greg Hall please visit the following blog-site by Greg’s long-term friend F. A. Nettlebeck, kindly brought to my attention by writer and psychologist Marilyn Graham, Greg’s ex-wife from his time in Santa Cruz transitioning into San Jose  and mother of his  daughter Danielle Hall:

Blog: SEWING MEMORY
Post: GREG HALL 1946-2009
Link: http://fanettelbeck.blogspot.com/2009/06/poet-greg-hall-dies-greg-hall-author-of.html

Also check out Liz Henry’s wonderful blog entries on Greg–her insights, one of Greg’s drawings,  some of his poems and recordings:

http://liz-henry.blogspot.com/

Now onto more of Greg’s Poems:


THE RIVERS RUN AWAY IN THEIR OWN DIRECTION AND VANISH TO FLOW UNDER OTHER SKIES

by Greg Hall,

copyright 2007, 2008

This world may never change
Though a grain of sand and the wide curve of sky
Change every instant
Every man a rip-tide breaking on himself
Every woman an undertow
The fluid knots tying and untying themselves
Under the flat gun-metal of the bay
Men with guns guard every diamond
The real treasure hidden in a handful of dirt
The joy is wandering with empty hands
Embraced by the wind and immersed in the changing light
That falls on us in the course of a day
One among an endless number
Swept away inside remorseless and merciful tides
Moved here and there under the constellations
Born to live inside the ecstatic journey
Which is nothing more than a traveler on a short visit
With both eyes open
and the hands always empty
Moving about beneath the treasure of the sky
And over the treasure of the earth
Weightless and amazed
And drunk inside the rain.

TO LIVE AND DIE ON EARTH

by Greg Hall
copyright 2008

Hamburgers sizzling
On an open grille
“and Chuck Berry
Is so glad to be”
“back in the USA”
How
Ever
“Mikes
“do
“not
“make
“the
“man
And
ALL
“slides”
“away”
“before”
Your
Personal
And actual
Feet
“Despite your”
“education”
And all that followed it
And “all”
Preceding “it”
)?
Your
Nates
Sizzling
On a grille
)a big eraser removing all exits
)”Lenny Bruce and Robert Crumb and Sartre
)”gone gone so GONE”
And
“you”
Are on
“your”
“own”
)”ART”
)”IS
)”smegma”
“THIS”
“IS”
)the
)beginning


FAST EXPRESSION

by Greg Hall
copyright 2008

JB utters the seven
syllables of “BLUES”
in less time than anybody WHO
was ever BORN
“people”
“let me”
“tell you”
“the news”
)the “cold”
“sweat”
of 3 A.M.
“Got nothing”
“ON ME”
but people
let me
tell YOU
the “old” “guy”
“THING”
“is”
“UNDER”
“RATED”
You HANGAROUND
WIT ME
A BIT
“You”
“WILL”
“GET”
“SOME”
“BLUES” said
with seven syllables
SO QUICK
“You don’t know”
“whether to run”
“shit”
or
“go”
“blind”
Love
You
BABY

ODE TO WOLFMAN GREGGIE

by Greg Hall
copyright 2008

When I was born my father wore a lab coat
The first words audible were
“it’s alive, it’s al-l-l-l-ive … “
Igor stood by and told the old man
“I’m glad your first child is a masculine child”
I ran with the wolves until I was seventeen
The villagers came with torches and burned the castle
But it was empty
It had always been empty
When the moon got full
My face broke out in fur
My teeth felt sharp and I had tons of energy
I became obsessed with Hank Williams
I was ready for love
I was drowning in love
And had no voice
No way to speak to another
Of the vast seas which were navigating me
I hid inside the rain
I hid inside the sunlight
I could only be seen under starlight
Seen
But
Not
Heard
I was the howling child
Muted by history
This went on for a long time
But one day this blonde girl
Looking to get out of the rain
Crawled under a boat propped up on the beach
And she taught me to write
My name in the sand
And then taught me to speak
One letter at a time
And then to weave the letters into a word
The words into sentences
And then
To Sing
She kissed me and bade me farewell
Now after this I wove a shirt made up completely of words
In my shirt I can go anywhere and pass for human
When I meet people I say “Spanish Lace”
or “Flamenco Oranges Impersonate My Tears”
Its only in the middle of three A.M.
I wake up trembling and remember my life
As the Monster’s Son
Though still after writing a poem
I must admit
My teeth
Feel
Sharper

REALLY OPEN MIKE

by Greg Hall
copyright 2008

“WHO”
May
Speak
)?
“Those who make
Loneliness
A darling lover,
Solitude a darling
Sin”…
Bring yr dreams
Yr aspirations, yr crimes,
Yr open throats,
“KEEP SINGING”
as yr howls and “mozartian ululations”
Are not “FATAL” to me…
Seek not in me
The source of yr pregnancy,
“I” “LEAVE”
“NO”
“TRACKS”
But the
Loneliness problem
You mention
“Compels”
“Me”
To “advise”
“You”
“MAKE
LONELINESS
A LOVER
AND SOLITUDE
A DARLING
SIN”

SPEAK THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED

by Greg Hall

copyright 2008

Morning arrived without an invitation
It was just that evening was so beautiful
The sunrise started following it around
I don’t know where your luminous paleness ends
And the black heart of midnight begins
The borders are opaque
Even in the black some light gets in
The blood finds its way
Just like a new-born river
Goes where it must to continue to flow
Otherwise it must become a lake
Breathing in motionless splendor
Guard of light and a passive victim of the moon
But we
Are
about
Rivers
Inexplicably encountering each other
Crowded with rubies among the white stones
We broke all the laws
Standing in the kitchen
Under very bright lights the curve of your back
Your breasts high in a plum tree
And the nipples fiery and tender
Eclipsing the rare gems the night had buried
Inside my body and my dreams
I woke up and knew your milk arrayed
Upon a landscape of white gold
Drowned in an air that could only be the daughter of the ocean
And we love each other
The way the night follows the morning
Enthralled and justified
Because the black stone from the endless vastness of night
Must warm and glow and be consumed in fire to reach the earth
And the pure air surrounding us while we embrace
Contains the light and heat of the meteor fallen
Sacrifice from the heart of night
That we might fly
In our quick night
And rest in an exhausted paradise
Mementos of this impossible journey
Strung along your belly
Like dew
From
heaven
Forever.


How Your Paleness Explodes Inside A Very Silent Joy

by Greg Hall, copyright 2008

So many hearts broken
All along the watchtowers
Inside every step
Along the way
So many mouths
Never really
Been kissed
So multitudinous
The weary virgins
Feet in the air
And a loneliness
Howling
An untouched coyote
Under a pristine
New moon
That immaculate
Sliver
Tuned
To the curve
That never found
Your
Secret
Throatskin
And
Other
Lost
Magicks
As in
So
Many
Hearts
Broken
Because
They
Never
Got
To
Beat
So many
Hearts
Broken
All
Along
The
Watchtower
So many
Mouths
Never really
Been
Kissed

WALKING TO THE NORTHERN BEACH ALONE

by Greg Hall, copyright 1997, 2009

Despite the wind
There is nothing here
But my footprints
When I return)—
The summer broken
And the autumn still smoking
The winter
Wounded to death—
Roses are rising
Inside the breasts
Of the spring—
The year turns,
And the ocean
Is reversing itself,
The wind hesitates,
Not sure whether
To oppose my return
(That driving wall
Of mysterious
Breath and sand),
Or to lash me forward
Agreeing without words
That all destinations
Must be reached,
That the last seven drops of wine
Must join their sisters
In the steadily darkening
Glass of our lives—
I have no arguments
For the wind,
Because to confront
A force
Without words
Only silence
Must speak…

Note from the Editor: I first printed this in 1997 as a broadside for a reading Greg gave at the Cafe Rouge in Los Gatos, CA. The poem. like most of Greg’s work, still is as fresh and philosophically pertinent today as ever.

One Response to “SPEAK THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED”

edit this on July 16, 2008 at 5:02 am1 kellycm

Hi Greg,

This poem is one of the best I’ve read this year. The imagery is flat-out amazing and vivid; the sentiment will linger a good long while. Excellent work.

Kelly

7 replies

  1. Hello. I have appreciated your tributes on Greg. I have been in touch with Stephen Kessler and shared many, many poems with him for his compilation / anthology, poems Greg copied off for me during the time we lived together as partners and friends back in the late 1980’s. He remains in my heart, and continues to impact my own work as a writer and artist. Best, Rebecca

    Like

  2. Amazing I didn’t know before today that Greg is gone. Wonderful words – please find a way to keep them.
    Terry A.

    Like

    • Hi Terry–it is indeed a shame Greg is gone. He was an amazing poet and a good friend and is still much missed! I do have more of his poems I plan to publish here. But you are right, another book would be appropriate. His friend Stephen Kessler in Santa Cruz plans to publish a compilation of Greg’s poems one of these days. I know however there are more poems of Greg’s out there including some I found recently plus more from other friends that he sent work to that he did not keep copies of…

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  3. Hey.it’s a good article,it’s helpful for me,I’ve learned a lot from your blog,welcome to my blogevery day.

    Like

  4. So will we all Liz! I will have more on Greg here soon…Am also planning a poetry memorial celebration of Greg’s life and poetry on July 19th at Works Gallery. Still deciding whether it will be 2:00 PM or 6:00. Any thoughts?
    Bea

    Like

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