The literary Man @ Punk House Press: Arts of David e. Patton
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 I was born in St. Louis

I was born in St. Louis on April 19, 1953 and grew up in the safety and comfort of the heart of black St. Louis. One of my oldest memory is living above a store front church that never closed, never stopped testifying or singing the gospel day and night in and out. I woke and went to bed with the holy ghost filtering up through the floor boards supporting my bed and rest. Music as for most of us has always been there, coming from someone's window or heard as a teenager in the early 50s walking pass me with a transitory radio in his hand and I took to it like a child to his mother. I suppose that having the legendary father of the Blues Charlie Patton as my kin folk dont hurt as well although my family's understanding was that he played that devil's music (the Blues) so it kept all that he did and was doing away from me until I grew up. My great granddaddy the Rev. Colin brook hand built the family church in Brookville Mississippi and the family made up the chorus. Up until the age of 12 or so my brother, sister and I spent our summers on bigmama's farm in Mississippi, where I learned that food came from the back yard and fields and not just from the grocery stores in St. Louis. While I have spent a great deal of time on the farm I always was and remain a city kid. The restrictions placed on my country cousins because they were black never sit well with me because I spent most of my time growing up in the city of St. Louis, and because of this disagreement it is highly unlikely that I will ever retire in the south as I did not have the pation for entering the movie house through the side door as a city kid and I do not have it now for anything that lightly hints at that way of being control. What struck me as profound about country life when I was a kid is the absolute statement of of darkness in farm country. Other then that I was not endeared by it, maybe because of the intimidation I felt from horses, massive and towering above me fully capable of running me down at will or the hard work of working a farm or any of farm life that makes a city kid thinks that this is all too real. But those years have served me well in my later life and while I now have no need to run down and kill and pluck a chicken for our dinner if the need ever arises I am up to it. One advantage of growing up this way is that I got the best and the worst of both a city and a country life. While some may think that the country life is slow and easy, this is not always so. As a kid I rose with the sun and worked till last light and when darkness spreads on the farms of 1950s, to a child it was scary and fascinating to go out and sit on the garret and see no city lights and most of the time no full moon to see by and therefore one is forced to confront what is going on internally in the absent of incoming information that one finds in the city. In cities there is light, so much so as to block out most of the stars and there is something around every corner, even danger against the child like preceded danger of darkness in the country, perhaps this is why for many years I was a night person, an internalize child who was just fine spending his time with himself. I got the standard education that St. Louis was giving out to blacks in the 50s and 60s. At the age of 17, a hall mark year in my life for many reasons as I had my first erection that year, my first episode of depression, wrote my first poem, and realized that I had to reeducate myself because the black consciousness movement taught me that I did not know the history of my own people. While it is useless to blame St. Louis for this lack of a quality education there is much profit to be gained from blaming America as a whole and Blacks themselves for turning the education of their kids over to a system that they knew and know even today is stacked against them and washing their hands of the education of their own race. At the age of 17 I started took control of my education and it would consume me well onto my late 30s. Blacks history was my main focus. Half way through my freshmen year of high school we move from an all Black neighborhood of the west side of St. Louis where I had grew up, to the near south side all white, as a matter of Fact my first poem was written while on the bus from the old Black high school of Soldan which counts among its alumni Tennessee William to Southwest high overwhelmingly Italian in that section of St. Louis. It was at Southwest that I realized that nether my fellow white students nor I have been given a proper education in American history. That we did not know of the history of my own people set me off on this road for life. At the time I knew that I wanted to be an artist and later to teach art and I had been working toward this all of my life up to them and taken great pains and joy to teach myself how to drew and paint with little construed help from the art department of the St. Louis school system, as a matter of fact after all of the IQ tests and what not St. Louis told me that what they found out from them all was that I was good with my hands and so they set about trying to convents me that my place in the American economy was on the assembling line assembling this or that widget. It seems to never occurred to them that having taught myself to drew and paint maybe, just maybe that was the reason why I was good with my hands. It was my art of mental work for the rest of my life. I had already showed promise as a young artist in the eyes of my family especially my Aunt Bea; Beauie Johnson who was a teacher and really my grandfather's Aunt. She lived 103 years on earth and it was she who I felt was the only one who understood that I was a young artist and did not expect me to grow out of it as my mother did. In my sophomore year Ms. Godwin submitted some of my work into a competition for senors along. It was St. Louis fist magnet school for the arts. They took the best art student who was a senor, one from each high school and grouped them together for half of the day having them spend a great deal of time at Washington University School of Art. To get in was to be put on the fast tack and a guaranteed full four year scholarship to WU. At the end of my sophomore years I was accepted to enter in my Junior. While there I won a Scholastic Art Award. The piece as I recall it was a still life in the style of the German artist Max Beckman who taught at Wash-U in the 50s. The good thing about the program is that I got to get up and personal with art as getting behind the scene of the St. Louis Art Museum. A case in point is once I was in the museum’s curator's office and there on the floor propped against the wall was Picasso's The Guitar Player, just like my work on the floor and propped against the wall of my bedroom. But at-last as my life have taken twists and turns half way through my senor year my father died, and while he was never a father to me and I really dont remember him ever talking to me even tho I spoke to him whenever he was at the house to pay my mother the child support. He was such a disagreeable man that even tho he and my mother separated sometime when she was pregnant with me as he claimed that I was not his son and preceded to beat my mother. He never got a divorce but that did not stop him from marring someone else and raising a family with her. But to be fair to him and his brothers they all died by gun fire. Anyhow being the caring son that I was I dropped out of the art school and joined work study to help my mother out which not only landed me a job at jack N' the Box and this was the end of my desire to be a painter and because of this I began to focus more on writing and less on painting. It is the one and only great mistake of my life and in allowing me to make this move without objection shows how uninvolved my mother was in my future. To be fair to my mother she knew nothing about art and saw no farinaceous gain in being an artist and she wanted the best for me while on the other hand she took no active role in planing the future of my sisters and brothers as well. As you may feel here that I held this against her for many years while I agree with what is done is done, let bygones b bygones and dont cry over spilled milk and bury the hatchet, I say bury the hatchet but dont forget where you bury it because you may need it again. I say that this is the greatest mistake of my life for my mother nor I had the money for a university education and I have this strong strain within me. I hate going into debt so borrowing money was out of the question. I have never own a credit card because I will not go into what I can not afford. I never brought a house for the same reason. It's not that I am cheat but even as a child I told myself with you can’t afford it make it, if you can't make it steal it or do with out. So I grew up stealing art supplies from art class in school and books from the library and as a teen signed up to every join this book club for 99 cent and we will autocratically send you one a month. The Reader Digest loss some books by me. A telling point is that my first sketch book was made out of brown paper bags and butcher paper sown together with jude. Some of the jude I tried to make a pair of shoes from. Even today when I need charcoal for drawing I find some bit of wood and burnt it. At 21 I join the Army for the GI Bill ans because I stammered I when into communication as a way to confront my stammering. I needed to leave with my friend Derick who I was joining on the buddy plan while I wanted to join as a photographer. I was more into photographs then poetry. It was in the Army that I put my nose to the griming wheel of writing poetry and being a poet as I wrote marching cadences in bases training and poems for Stars and Stripes, two which was published as well as poems for my fellow soldiers to send home to their girl friends. Because of one of those poems I was honored to have my name David added as the middle name to a son on the way of my then friend Thomas Martinez after I wrote a poem for him to send his girl friend state side after he received a dear john letter from her. It seem that my poem changed her mind. This sort of action was nothing new for me as I drew cars and supper heroes for my friend as I was growing up and in high school I drew naked women for the jocks and babies for the female students. After having written a few poems I was surprise that I could do it as I never cared for poetry until I wrote my first poem at 17. But still I quickly gravitated to writing prose poems and not knowing that there was such a thing as a prose poem I rejected them and started to write short stories. I still wrote poetry from time to time but unless they looked like poems I kept them to myself. It was around 21 years old that I turned to poetry in earnest having had realized a few years back that being a painter was now out of the question and it did not take long before I hit on the ideal that I was going to write a poem from the perspective and view point of everyone that I met but I soon discovered that I did not like or care for some people and therefore I could not live up to that. I did not want to write a poem from the prospective of those that I did not care for. In the army I met my first lover and mate for more then ten years. This was before DADT and in the last year I have become a radical who told and did my time tell it was up. Some people use to go to collage to find a mate I joined the Army. Afterward I worked at the VA hospital as I went to Forest Park Community Collage staying up late into the night studying and writing. Soon I was burnt our. I quit my job and school and moved to Thornton Colorado for a fresh start, a move that I would from time to time make to somewhere else just to break a spell of deep depression until I had been to all but three stakes. This was in 1979 and in Denver I met James Baldwin at a book store in Cherry Creek. Baldwin was not the first famous person that I had met. I met Walter Cronkite at a father and son dinner at my family’s church when I was very young and George Plimpton when I worked in the Gift and Books department of Famous and Barr. I became aware of the Denver poetry scene centered around Ed Ward , Edwin Foster Ward after his ancestor, the great American actor of the stage. There was more poetry groups there like the scene around Ed was a rowdy bunch, fighting Larry Lake wiling a gun and shot one of the other poet his friend. Being the quite type I started to hang out with the Boulder group centered around Allen Ginsburg at Napora The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetic. I had a very short conversation with Baldwin and nothing more but in that time I was firmly sat on the road that let to this me and not some other that each of us could be. The meeting was a shot into my brain while to him it may just as well had been just a book signing, just the job of being a writer. Quickly into realizing that I could write better poems that everyone I knew I had realized that I liked writing poems for other, because it focus my mind on something that I may not come to me otherwise and this way of looking at the poet was a hold over from when I tried to write poems from the perspective of everyone I met. This is when I thought that the poet is in the service of the people. At the end of the conversation with Baldwin I thanked him for what he had done for our Black folk and gays. I knew that I had heard somewhere that saw himself as a homosexual and not gay but I was younger and somewhat in your face with self love and pride. As you knew the shock of racism in the gay community hit me in the face hard. The divide that I found everywhere, the one between Blacks and Whites was also in gay pride and poetry. On one of my visit to Boulder for a student poetry reading and open mic at Naropa, Peter Orlovsky came up to me and started a conversation. Say to say the first person to introduced himself to me there was a Latin poet who was a student from the East coast, it was he whose name I now do not recall who first spoke to me and got me into all of the parties and so forth and before he returned to the East coast he was suggesting that I become a student there. Most of the time in 1979-80 I was the only black there. Peter suggested that I read one of Ginsburg's book, he had already given me signed copy of Clean Asshole Poems. Once after I had read some of my work at an open mic at Naropa Allen came up to me and introduced himself to me and suggested that I slow down my reading as my work was so thick with rhythm that reading that fast I was hypnotizing the audiences. This was the first time that I had to focus on stage presence and controlling my breadth and time management. One of the things that I learned from Allen was not to move about and make wild gestures or rock back and forth as it was eating up the energy that should be going into the poem coming out. My fried Kay Vohes use to black out and was unable to remember what she did on stage. My friend Mary Hines had to take stage fright pills just before she read. Even to this day as the time draws near for me to take the stage I am in a state of energize uneasiness and a nagging anticipation. The brave go forth through the pain to reach the hypnotic recital of poetry. I remained in Peter's camp but did have clear access to Allen. A few years ago I wrote a play titled Peter and the Poet and Allen is hardly mentioned. Once Allen came by my dorm room at Yessha House which once was the room of Bill Burroughs son of William Burroughs to hang out with me, while I was working on a play of the same name and and while he was hanging we talked about the play Allen told me that I could take the summer off from school and spend it on his new York farm with Peter while I finish the play and once it was done he would pass it on to some friends of his who own theater houses on off off Broadway, but I did not take him up on it as poetry was my thing and some time she can be very jealous of me writhing anything else. One reason that bounded to to Peter was that in Clean Asshole his misspellings was up front and I lost all instructive interest in spelling in the third grade and still can't spell well to this day. It validated me as a poet but it would take many years before I would show others my poems on paper because of the embarrassment. Of course this worked against me in that what was to be my first book of poetry in the early or mid 90s Clarissa Pinkola Estés while she was still working on her manuscript Woman Who ran with Wolves got a grant to publish three books of poetry and I was one of the three poet that she choose. However because of my lack of ability to spell I gave her a manuscript of short poems full of easy to spell words, but she wanted my loner poems. She stuck to her guns and I stuck to mines and the book never cam to be on that ground along. This embarrassment would lead me to submit just a few poems to publishers and the like but it did lead to the thought that spelling was not necessary to art of writing poetry only to the publishing of it. At the ripe old age of 59 where my skin is starting to sag, it would take me 42 years before I came on medication for my depression and no matter what happen to me and my career I have lived to see my greatest achievement by being able to stay alive to reach 53 and beyond. It gets no better then this for without it I wouldn't had been alive to write what I have written up to now. Going on my cocktail of medication for depression had the effect of clearing up my mind to revile that I was prolific, which at once became a burden as I am the kind of a man who likes to share and I have been told even by my closest friends that I was over loading with my new work and they could not keep up. The years between my birth and 53 was full of physical and mental pain so if it shows up in my work see it as a filter, there is no other way for me, I am pretty set in my writing ways and I know that there are few other way then to fight your way through life for as long as it take

Links to my work on the web

LINKS of Uncle David









  Three Odes 


Graphic and Words  (Art)



 Free Standing Quotes 





Music and Artwork



The Trinity

 book of poetry (2005)




Collection of  working manuscripts (poetry)


391 page prose poem


Poetry of David e. Patton



 Live Journal




My music on Youtube










 Psalms and prayers of Praise 


 Uncle David