Home » Tom Hunley Speaks: An Email Interview and A Psalm

Tom Hunley Speaks: An Email Interview and A Psalm

tom hunley creative writing seriesThe English Majors’ Weblog wanted to cast out a line to Dr. Tom Hunley before his poetry reading tonight at the Warren County Public Library. Here are his rapid fire and altogether too wise responses.  He also was very kind in allowing us to reprint his poem, “Psalm on a Theme by Dean Young and a Somewhat Similar Theme by Allen Ginsberg”.

The Interview

1. Why didn’t you call your latest collection “Duct Tape World”? Just wondering if 3M gave you any grief over ‘scotch tape’.

I thought about that, but Accents Publishing didn’t seem worried. I think poetry flies under the radar of folks who are looking to sue over copyright issues. “There’s no money in poetry, but there’s no poetry in money either.” — Robert Graves.

2. Why do poetry readings? Do they help you or your audience? How so or not?

Hearing a poem read aloud in the poet’s voice often makes a seemingly-obscure poem click in your mind. Something about the way the poet delivers a poem can make the poem come alive. Also, you don’t get the full experience of poetry from print, simply because poetry existed as an oral art long before Gutenberg.

3. Why would anyone ever become an English major?

Why would anyone major in business or law or anything “practical”? There are no jobs out there. At least have fun and stimulate your mind while you’re in college.

4. Any question you are dying to have asked so that you can answer it?

There’s no question that I’m dying. We all are. That’s why we make art. “So, you want to live forever. That is the essence of poetry.” — William Carlos Williams

Maybe Tom does requests, then perhaps you can call out this one that he graciously gave us permission to reprint. Or maybe he will do it as an encore.

The Poem

Psalm on a Theme by Dean Young and a Somewhat Similar Theme by Allen Ginsberg


When I die, Lord, I want to come back

as a cloud an airplane passes through

just before the crash,

lit up by blazing sunset

and just freed of a heavy, cleansing rain—

a cloud gifted with speech

enough to say Change your course, pilot.

I want to change, cloudlike,

into the sort of person who finds a wallet

and an abandoned infant and knows which to keep,

which to return, and does it. Sometimes I lose myself

in a crowd. Sometimes I find myself

in a cloud. Sometimes I want to die, Lord,

from embarrassment. An expression

like I’m falling apart or I love you to pieces,

but if I do fall apart, Lord, I do

want you to love me to pieces.

It is written in a Dean Young poem,

The mind is a tiny island you’ve washed upon.

Is that true, Lord? About me, not you, I mean.

Dean Young the poet, not Dean Young the creator

of the comic strip, Blondie, I mean.

Allen Ginsberg wrote, I’m sick of my own mind.

Give me just a little piece of yours, Lord.

I’m going to give you a piece of my mind

is an expression, but I mean it literally.

I feel like a sandwich is an expression

meaning I crave bread and cheese

with ham/lettuce/mustard if you please,

but sometimes I do feel like Dagwood has

his eyes then his hands then his drooling mouth on me

and I feel like I know how Blondie must feel.

This makes me realize I don’t want to die.

I’ve wandered forty years through the desert

of my mind, Lord. I want you to fill my mouth

with water and prayer and maybe a jagged little song.


Be there. Tonight. February 11. Warren County Public Library. 6 pm. Thanks, Tom.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *