An Introduction

by Jeanne Marie Beaumont, author of Curious Conduct

"This living hand, now warm and capable," Keats wrote in his famous poem fragment, that word now lending to that hand all the poignancy and pain of mortality with which the young poet's heart was overfilled. It is the sense of poetry from a now living hand that grasps us while reading Why I Kick at Night. What Ron Drummond holds toward the reader is a garden of earthly experiences—from the floral to the carnal—recognized as fleeting and therefore calling us to be immediately and profoundly conscious of them.

The least we can ask of our poets is that they write with passion from whole selves living in the world with wonder and attention. Yet it amazes how easily writers can fall short of this. In this collection, the reader doesn't doubt that here is the soul at home in the flesh, a troubled and longing heart, and a keen intelligence so naturally at ease in and alert to both flesh and word that it never needs to cartwheel or caterwaul to draw attention to itself. The poet is among and not apart. The garden is unlocked, the gate flung open. Drummond, though, is wise enough to know that a lover's touch is more wondrous than the garden's bounty, that a plum may be sweet, but sweeter still is the tender care of another person.

Although the poet protests (too much?), "death is far too busy to hang around here all day," death is never far from view, or more particularly, the dead are not. "Did I mention the dead forgive?" one poem asks, while another instructs, "All you need to remember is: water, deadhead, and weed." Death dwells in the most sumptuous garden; the flies are always lined up outside the door. When Drummond writes, "We have all the time in the world," we realize he knows acutely how little that really amounts to. Why we should all kick at night, and why we need to read poems too—poems as awake with red life as these for instance—those death-delaying if not defying acts that link us in our human predicament. Blessedly.

2004