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November's Selections:
Hugh Timlin

The Good Samaritan


This month we're pleased to share with you words and images from sculptor, teacher, farmer, and poet Hugh Timlin. A man of quiet strength, Timlin has never followed the path of least resistance - but the path of conscience. In the early 80s, he pulled up stakes from a teaching and art career in Detroit to build his own house and raise his family (which would eventually include 7 children) on a farm north of Mt. Pleasant.

Timlin currently resides at the farm, while still retaining a vital connection to the Detroit cultural world. His works, like the man himself, possess a contemplative quality and presence far beyond their minimal appearing forms. Without any further words from us, we present poems and sculpture by Hugh Timlin.


The first time I came back from the dead
end road that Don Scott lived on,
I noticed that this, the corner of Bawkey and Brinton
Was the place where the Garfield Cemetery was located.

In the times when everyone knew classical symbolism
someone planted some Cypress trees right in back of the DEAD END sign.
Their elegant verdure framed the rhombus of mortality
which chanted out on roads,
on minds,
on trucks
and tractors.
Corn yellow
in the marble orchard.

The first time I came back from the DEAD
END road sign on the road that Don Scott lived on,
he taught me the lesson of records.
He had just paid eighty thousand dollars cash for a new tractor.
The money came from the PIK program.
And, as he explained it to me,
if you kept the records straight,
you could make a million dollars for not planting corn
and afford the luxury of not bargaining
on the price of a tractor.

On the way to the dead end road
I bought granola for my goats
with our extra food stamps, figuring
that would be better than the PBBs
we were drinking from the cows.
But I didn't tell Don Scott that because he hated
welfare bums.

I paid real money for my hay
to the man who had just made a million
for not planting corn.
Later I asked Joe Johnston at the elevator what PIK meant
and got a lesson in agricultural alliteration.
"It means Payment In Kind, son."

You sow what you reap
I guess.



It's a journey after all, isn't it? Untidy lives, loose strings, old shoes, noise. Noise and the insane expectations of being treated fairly, loved, creating some kind of rational order, something of redeeming quality.

We journey through the myth that we are in control, that answers are rational, that life is contained.

I make Art simply because there are energies within me that need to be materialized in order to be understood and made whole.

Even though there is a temptation to equate cynicism with intelligence and significance with complexity, I can't help approaching my work with a certain dumb optimism and stark simplicity. Simplicity is difficult. But even with all the noise, I have come upon a few words that make ultimate sense to me:

An itinerant Jewish carpenter said, "The Kingdom of Heaven is within."

A German physicist said, "E = mc2"

An Irish writer, speaking through his sensuous female character said, "...yes his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes."




In the late December rain
the old green van with the red door
The paint job and the weather
mocked the season
as the season mocks us all.

I've seen these people before.
Helped the woman push the truck down the hill
in front of the Laundromat,
delaying for one more week
a new battery
in favor of clean clothes.

I've seen them on the side of the road
the five kids fogging up the windows
and drawing something to giggle at.
The woman in the front with the baby
nods to let me know
the old man is on the way.

I see women in the front seats of trucks,
trucks whose paint has turned chalky.
Rusted trucks.
Women in trucks at the side of the road,
sitting with the quite resignation
of always running on empty.

When they go,
the old trucks rattle on the washboard roads
a rhymless carol in the late December rain,
Fix it Fix it
if it don't work fix it
work til you fix it
if it works
don't fix it.



Ipso Facto

At 87, my mother's self contained world operates on a tightly structured logic.

When I set my new hat on her kitchen table, she said it was bad luck.

"I thought it was shoes on a table."

"That too, but its bad luck to set a hat on a table."

I set it on the chair.

Five minutes later, ready to have tea, she sat on my hat.

She shrugged, hung it on the chair back and stirred sugar in her cup.

"You see, I told you it was bad luck to put your hat on the table.




Marla Johnson sits on the porch
chewing gum.
An ample cow in a platform rocker,
she feeds the baby.
Marla Johnson's baby sucking,
makes her tit like a soft heart pumping.
Marla Johnson brushes a fly from her cheek,
the baby's arm,
and rocks.

No one calls her Marla Sue
since the baby came.




We come out of winter
like the water out of snow
that drips around
and makes soggy piles of hay
turn into strong tea.

Our change from the stiff blue creatures of winter
is liquid and sticky.
It has no voice in January lambs
or symbol in the sweet unfolding
of a May butterfly.

at the ugly end of February,
our hope is in the sound of our boots
sucking mud.

Still Standing

All Images © Rachel Timlin
(Thanks Rachel)
© 2002