Introduction



Diamondfire-

Diamondfire contains nearly 200 poems, written over a 45-year time span. Many are included in my first book of poems Timewinds (Poetic Matrix, 2010), while dozens of new ones were written before and after Timewinds.


As such, Diamondfire is the work of a lifetime, celebrating Venice Beach, California, where I lived and played lead guitar with singer/songwriter Tim Buckley during the ‘60s and early ‘70s. Then moved into Hollywood’s neon jungle and entered my music journalism years (freelance writer, and West Coast Editor of Down Beat magazine 1975-1981). Every summer driving to the southern Colorado mountains where Sonia and I camped, fly fished, and hiked the trails. Moving to New Mexico in the mountains 14 miles outside of Santa Fe. Finally, taking up residence not far from the magnificent Yosemite National Park in central California.


Drawing from many poetic influences, including Gerard Manley Hopkins, Dylan Thomas, Lewis Carroll, James Joyce and e.e. cummings, Diamondfire celebrates life’s vicissitudes from the darkest neurotic dungeons of the anguished heart to life-affirming psycho-spiritual joy. Diamondfire is a song that springs from a passionately lived life and a mind that has explored itself from the darkest psychic shades and shadows to radiantly shining spirit-light.


“Lee Underwood’s poems are lyrical, rhythmic, and emotionally charged. Lee delivers his work with a rat-a-tat-tat pop-pop-pop style that makes you jump, makes you smile, and makes you want more!”
Jon Bock, Fine Artist Photographer and Gallery Owner.


“Lee Underwood is a true original whose work is full of music and whimsy but informed by wisdom gained from a long and colorful life’s journey.  Both in content and form Lee’s poems are full of surprises and innovation.  His work is made to be read aloud, though no one else can perform the poems the way Lee does.”
Mike Cole – poet and retired Yosemite High School teacher.


 

Timewinds-

One of my great joys is reading aloud for audiences who take delight in frolicking with language. They enjoy not only the literal content of words in these and other poems, but also the aural sensuality of them, the rhythmic undulations, the melodic cling-binging belltones and thunderbooms above and beyond rational content. Along with some of the printed poems, I include an audio reading as well. In a separate Audio Reading section there are many audio readings without text.


Words can be infinitely more suggestive and stimulating than dictionaries make them out to be. In several of these poems I follow Lewis Carroll's lead in Alice and Wonderland and intentionally create a "Jabberwocky" language, in which I juxtapose conventional words with nonsense-words that take on "sense" within their context by virtue of sound and placement — they may thwart the insecure, over-controlling egoist, but they will delight the playful, imaginative child within us.


Some of these poems are "speed-readers," designed to be read aloud as fast as possible — tongue twisting, exhilarating wordrides, as thrilling to write and read as they are delightful to listen to.


From twenty-one books of poetry, I selected the poems you see here. In terms of content, the journey is inner and intangible. It is psychological and spiritual. I invite you to play in fields of music and linguistic imagination, and dance and sing through all levels and colors of the rainbow spectrum of consciousness.


Initially in life, the first step in the interior journey involves self-realization. Along the way, some individuals find themselves at odds with a society that would destroy authenticity to protect its own interests and promulgate its own values. Eventually, with luck, work, skill and courage, those individuals may evolve through and beyond narcissism, personal needs and concerns, and come to recognize the Other.


In relationships, we discover desire, pleasure, and personal love — the many shades of passion, the colors of sensuality, the hues of affection, the dark nights of rejection, the bright light of love that's deep and true and lasting.


If and when we ascend into transpersonal domains of the psyche and the soul, we soar beyond egocentricity into the radiant realm of love and compassion for ourselves, our friends and compatriots, for all human beings throughout the world, and for all living plants and animals. Awakened Masters from cultures in virtually every historical era have spoken of these all-inclusive spheres of mind and soul, which are accessible to each and every one of us.


Among the poems, I delve into all of these dimensions. Join me, won’t you?

 

Poems: