Friday, August 21st, 2009...9:49 pm

albert huffstickler | love song

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Love Song

In how many rooms
have I thought about you
in fifteen years?
In how many states?
In how many moods?
Knowing all the while
that you were still the same
and that I was the one
who left and the past
is past and not dead
but living and unretrievable.
Actually, you were
a shit most of the time
but so beautiful.
Sullen and unapproachable.
So was I.
You said I smoked too much.
Fuck you.
I paid the bills
while you went off to see
your old boyfriends.
Sometimes we’d go for coffee
and sit perfectly silent,
you sketching and me writing.
Those moments exist beyond time.


In how many rooms
have I thought about you
in fifteen years?
You were so beautiful.

from BIG HAMMER No. 5, 2002
Iniquity Press / Vendetta Books

Albert Huffstickler – ‘Huff’ – Reads. Recorded in Austin, TX 1987-9 and Bisbee, AZ 1991

Albert Huffstickler (December 17, 1927 – February 25, 2002) was an American poet. Albert Huffstickler was born in Laredo, Texas, surviving a twin who died at birth. As the son of a teacher and soldier, he and his two siblings (a brother and a sister) moved often growing up. After graduating from high school, he worked in Charlotte prior to attending the University of North Carolina where he discovered poetry. Marriage and children followed as well as various jobs in Florida and Arizona, where he briefly studied Scientology. Drafted in 1954, he spent two years in the army. After completing armed service he returned to Texas where he attended Southwest Texas State University, majoring in English and developing an interest in Jungian psychology. During the 1960’s Huffstickler continued writing poetry as well as pulp fiction, publishing under a pseudonym.

In 1973 he began working at the Perry-Castañeda Library at the University of Texas at Austin, where he remained until retirement at the age of 62. While in Austin he began the Hyde Park Poets Series, where he was known as the Bard of Hyde Park” and taught poetry seminars, inspiring other well-known Austin poets including W. Joe Hoppe. He won the first of two Austin Book Awards in 1989 for Walking Wounded, published by Backyard Press. In 1989 the Texas state legislature honored his poetry. The second Austin Book Award was for Working on My Death Chant, published in 1991. A 1990 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review article reporting on an interview by Felicia Mitchell described Huffstickler’s natural poetic voice as an attempt “to meld the human voice with the poetic spirit to present a highly charged, story-filled verse.”

Huffstickler published hundreds of poems in his lifetime in both chapbooks and academic and underground journals. A longtime relationship with Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream led to numerous publications in that journal. He published many of his own poems under his Press of Circumstance imprint. Huffstickler’s over thirty collections include Working On My Death Chant, The Cosmology of Madness and Dishwashers and Other Forgotten Angels. The Wander Years was published in 1998 by SRLR Press. Why I Write In Coffee Houses and Diners, a collection of selected poems, was published in 2000 by IUniverse. Poems were also antholgized in Grow Old Along with Me: The Best is Yet to Be (edited by Sandra Martz for Papier Mache Press, 1996) and I Feel a Little Jumpy Around You: A Book of Her Poems & His Poems Collected in Pairs (edited by Naomi Shihab Nye & Paul B. Janeczko for Simon & Schuster, 1998). Late in life, Huffstickler took up painting, sometimes selling his artwork or showing it in local venues. He also did volunteer work in hospitals, including the state hospital, and other care facilities. A film documentary on Huffstickler, Holy Secrets, by Matthew Listiak, highlights his personality and poetry. A longtime resident of Hyde Park neighborhood in Austin, Texas, Huffstickler died on 25 February 2002, of an aneurysm.

More on Albert Huffstickler can be found here…

Please click the cover to enlarge.

Download listen to Albert Huffstickler | On the Road |from the Vox Audio CD edited by Bruce Holsapple.

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5 Comments

  • This love song was written to Jan Miller. Huff and Jan traveled the entire US the summer of 1969 in a little red Volkswagen bug. They stopped to visit at the border. Huff finished one of his pulp fiction books. It was wonderful to have them.

    …and it’s great to see the poem here.

  • I agree…great to see the Huffstickler poem here. Also great to see you too, Sylvia. I still owe you a mighty thank you…

  • love this poem; so glad i stumbled in here.

  • Research Assignment

    I started my research at Barnes and Noble on Saturday and finished it the other day when I received an email from an old writer friend from Austin, Texas (more on this later). Anyway I did some parallelism and did my research while my daughter went to story time at B&N (they actually have a good program there). So I went to the poetry section. The first observation I made was B&N didn’t have a very good poetry section…not compared to some NY and CA bookstores I’d been to….City Lights BS blew me away…Ferlingetti (and I am waiting to see God on television)…yada yada. So I was very disappointed. Then I saw this book called, Japanese Death Poems. I said Ron don’t go there this assignment is about American poets and Momentum and the Parallax view. But I picked up the book anyway…just to read one poem…

    Where did that dog
    That used to be here go?
    I thought about him
    Once again tonight
    Before I went to bed.

    Anyway I thought the book would be about Jap soldiers reciting something or other before they beheaded someone…it’s a guy thing to think that way. But evidently there is a Japanese tradition to write a last poem before you die…preferably in Haiku. This one was written by a Zen monk a couple hundred years ago. So I go hmmmm…and read some more and more and more. You get the picture. I guess I could say the monk’s dog ate my homework but bear with me it gets interesting.

    I have an epiphany in B&N in Merritt Island, Fl. So I read some Ezra Pound Translations, Exile’s Letter, written a couple of thousand years ago. The one about the guy who fails in life and the lament he felt. Then I pick up The Erotic Spirit. It’s a collection “of Poems of Sensuality, Love, and Longing.” No surprises here…guys and gals haven’t changed much in a few millenniums. This guy Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273) could definitely get laid today.

    There’s hope here. I mean if you turn off the TV and don’t listen to the neighbor complain about the chinch bugs in his grass…if you just go to B&N and look in the poetry section…you can find some hope. Maybe that’s what poetry is. That brief moment and place in the mind that walks across time as easily as you walk across a bridge. How did Baudelaire say it: All scents and sounds and colors meet as one.(only in French)

    Yes.

    You can walk across the bridge and know sure as there’s fish in the water that there’s a common place where cultures or religions or whether you’re tall or short…pale in the light of poetry. It’s timeless with no beginning or end…which brings me to the email I mentioned earlier. A friend sent a newspaper article about the death of Albert Huffstickler. Huff’s the first person I ever did a public poetry reading with. He was the older guy and I was the young poet. Now I guess I’m the older guy. Here’s his last poem…

    Tired of being loved,

    tired of being left alone,

    tired of being loved,

    tired of being left alone.

    Gonna find myself a new place

    Where all I feel is at home.

    I wonder if that Zen Monk will ask Huff if he’s seen his dog?

  • I would like to get permission to use the poem
    “The Edge of Doubt”, by Albert Huffstickler in a book I have written about storytelling. Please advise me how to proceed. Thank very much.
    M DeCroes

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