Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Artist Poet: Don Blanding

The Artist Poet:  Don Blanding
(Soul Healing Art and Poetry)

 Although Don Blanding tried very hard to have an aura of the "Lover Poet";  Don fought in 2 World Wars and used his fame for many charities, He also kept homes or rentals in the Hawaiian islands, Portland,  New Mexico,  Honolulu, and Hollywood.

It was said that he had a female friend in every exotic place, spoke many languages and was a spy for many different countries. He was an artist and drew romantic pictures of every visit he made and then wrote poems to follow the pictures. These picture poem books sold like candy.

Fabric Of Life
I try to live each day
In such a way
That when tomorrow makes today a yesterday,
I will have woven into the fabric of my life
Some gay design,
Some patch of Color,
Bright to please the eye
So that, in the graying years to come,
When all the quick responsive senses dull
I may look back across the patterns of my past
And, in my memory,
Relive all the joys and pains
Of of all my well lived yesterdays.
West of the sunset stands my house,
There.....and east of the dawn
North the arctic runs my yard
South to the pole runs my lawn

Fabulous cities are my loot,
Queens of the world mine to wed,
The Couches of kings are my bed.

All that I see is mine to keep,
Foolish......this fancy seems
But I am rich with the wealth of sight
And the coin of my realm is dreams.
A handful of memories
A small cup of sorrow.

A flagon of happiness
In faith in tomorrow.

A measure of taking
A measure of giving,

A curious jumble
This business of living
When I have a I sometimes may,
I suit my fancy with it in every way.
My grass house stands by the open sea,
On a bit of beach that belongs to me.
And I paid.... but don't remember the price
For this my small acre of paradise.
The great southern cross hangs nightly over my door,
And the moonlight throws silver across the floor
While the surf makes thunder along the beach
And the rainbows end is always
Within my reach.

Black out of blackness
Mountains taking form.

The sun behind grey clouds
A hint of rain.
And now colors seeping into things again.

Shy green, pale blue and yellow thinly warm.

The rainbow is a heaven where dead flowers go
To bloom again as fresh, fragrant and bright
As when they graced the garden
Through the golden glow
Of summer days and gloried
In the suns delight.

She's where the surf makes thunder along the beach
And the rainbows end is within my reach

Fire Fly

We saw a fire fly float through the night

Glimmering, fitfully, like a vagabond star trailing its light.

"Oh catch it! You cried",

I caught it and brought it, you took it and sighed

As you peered at its glow, faint and frail.

You said "oh it’s only a bug with a light in its tail"

We had this moment exquisitely bright,

It dazzled our hearts with its sparkling star light.

You said "let’s catch this moment and hold it".

But I sighed, remembering another night the fire fly flied,

Me, wondering how long it will be until you too wail,

"Our love is only a bug with a light in its tail!"

 The Midas Touch 
A clear October day with all the world
A blaze of gold where frost had touched the leaves,
The goldenrod's tall scepters by the fence,
The harvest's gold in heaps and stacks and sheaves.
My eyes were gladdened by the friendly sun,
My thoughts were gay as melodies of birds,
I walked along the road, while in my heart
Was golden song that sought to find the words.
Some thought... I can't recall it... broke the spell,
Some memory with hate and hurt imbued,
Rose up like fog to gray the radiant scene
While in my heart dark distillations brewed.
My swinging stride slowed to a dragging plod,
My pleasant dreams and happy musings fled.
The world itself was golden as before
Until my thoughts had turned that gold to lead.
I had reversed the Midas touch of old.
I practice now to turn dull lead to gold.


We are the restless ones....
Who walk alone.....

Down a long byway ....
Through the bright stared unknown....


Don would stay with friends who lived all over the world, and then leave in the middle of the night without a warning. As a "thank you note"  he would leave an entire bathroom wall covered with his romantic exotic island adventures in art.

He was known as an extremely kind, sarcastic man, with glowing wit,  well mannered, but quick to tell the jealous prudes of his life style to go to hell, all while being impeccably dressed.

Don said he was in "Vagabondage" to roam and wine and dine the mysterious places and woman of this world. The movie "Casablanca" and its main star "Rick" played by Humphrey Bogart was styled after Don Blanding. 

It is said Don Blanding went to bed at 3:30am and rose at 11:30am as a life style. At these quiet times, living around the world in exotic places, he drew romantic art and wrote poems like the following  below....

A Thousand Lives
I know I've lived a thousand lusty lives

I've known all passions, griefs, 
And joys that nimble man contrives

To give the rhythms of his days a richly varied range

I've walked the the road, a Vagabond,
 through endless time and change.
Two ways my restless feet have sought, 
two trails that are really one, my feet have trod.

The flowered path to beauty's shrine, 
The weary climb to God.

I've tried for many an hour and minute
To think of this world without me in it.
I can't imagine a new-born day
Without me here . . . somehow . . . some way.
I cannot think of autumn's flare
Without me here . . . alive . . . aware.
I can't imagine a dawn in spring
Without my heart awakening.

These treasured days will come and go
At swifter pace . . . but his I know . . .
I have no fear . . . I have no dread
Of that marked day that lies ahead.
My flesh will turn to ash and clay

But I'll be here . . . . 

Lured by the bright mirage 
of changing skies and faces,

Forests and jungles and white frozen places.

Ready to bid love hello or farewell

With the same light gesture,

Now having conquered its spell.

I don't suppose I'll ever see

A wood fairy slipping down from her tree

Nor hear the pulsing pipes of pan

Although at times I swear I can.

Or see the moon nymph’s dance at night

And yet perhaps ...I might.

I watch the waves break on the rocks
And in between the thunder shocks
I think that I can almost hear
The mermaid sirens singing sweet and clear.
I don't suppose I'll ever see
These things that mean so very much to me.

But if I watch by night, by day
You cannot tell
Perhaps I may.

Song of the Seven Senses
With seven flowery chains we two are held,
With seven strands of sensuous delight,
Together through this madly wondrous night.
I love my bonds, more firmly will I weld
Each fragile link into another chain.
And if it breaks I’ll fasten it again.
The sight of you is gladness to my eyes;
The fragrance of your hair is on my hands;
Your lips…their constant touch my mouth demands;
I crave to hear the yielding of your sighs,
To taste the wine of passion thrice distilled
From ecstasy before the cup is spilled.
And that sixth sense which tells that Gods are near
Will warn us of their envy. Our defense
Will be the last delightful seventh sense,
Gay nonsense as a mask to hide our fears.
And if we tire of our flowery strands,
Dear, let us loose them then with friendly hands.


Passion has been a rider with spurs

A glaze of ice and a cloak of flame,

A rocket that soared me to the skies,

And a will o' the wisp through swamps of shame.

Passion has been a wound and a hurt,
A joy, a song of blinding light,
Burning dawn and a mystery,
Shackles and wings for godlike flight.

All of these it has been, and a teacher too,
Cause when it wanes I shall never grieve it.
I'll only sigh with a smile to say,
"Now at last, I can take or leave it".

The Double Life
How very simple life would be
If only there were two of me
A Restless Me to drift and roam
A Quiet Me to stay at home.
A Searching One to find his fill
Of varied skies and newfound thrill
While sane and homely things are done
By the domestic Other One.
And that's just where the trouble lies;
There is a Restless Me that cries
For chancy risks and changing scene,
For arctic blue and tropic green,
For deserts with their mystic spell,
For lusty fun and raising Hell,
But shackled to that Restless Me
My Other Self rebelliously
Resists the frantic urge to move.
It seeks the old familiar groove
That habits make. It finds content
With hearth and home -- dear imprisonment,
With candlelight and well-loved books
And treasured loot in dusty nooks,
With puttering and garden things
And dreaming while a cricket sings
And all the while the Restless One
Insists on more exciting fun,
It wants to go with every tide,
No matter where...just for the ride.
Like yowling cats the two selves brawl
Until I have no peace at all.
One eye turns to the forward track;
The other eye looks sadly back.
I'm getting wall-eyed from the strain,
(It's tough to have an idle brain)
But One says "Stay" and One says "Go"
And One says "Yes," and One says "No,"
And One Self wants a home and wife
And One Self craves the drifter's life.
The Restless Fellow always wins
I wish my folks had made me twins.

Song of the South Seas
What is the lure of the South Seas' song
That sings in the hearts of men so long?
What are its languorous charms
That it reaches forth like the perfumed arms
Of amorous women to draw men near?
What is the song that rings so clear
Through the leagues of time overseas and lands
To bring men back to the sun-drenched strands?
What is the song that will not be stilled,
What is the longing that can't be killed?
What is the lure of the South Seas' song

Is the song the sighing of winds in palms
As sweet as ballads, as sad as psalms?
Is the song the crooning of silken waves,
The sensuous music that makes men slaves
To remembered joys of those velvet nights
That were stained with passions and mad delights?
Is the song a lyric of rainbow hues,
The gold of suns and the sea's glad blues
Hibiscus blossoms that burn like flame
In the hair of a girl with a flower's name?
What is the lure of the siren song
That sings in the hearts of men so long?

It is more than flowers or lazy seas,
It is more than passions and ecstasies,
It is more than memories of amorous flesh,
It is more than the web of the senses' mesh,
It is more than beauty and less than peace,
It is earth-Nirvana, a sweet surcease
From the clang and clamor of cities' strife,
From the harsh demands of the Northland life,
From the drive and strain of the men who seek
For money and fame and ambition's peak.

The tropic days are like golden sands
That slip through the fingers of careless hands.
The dancing feet of the passing hours
Are muted with music and shod with flowers
While the pulse that stirs in a listless vein
Is lulled to the swoon of a waltzing strain
Time is a flagon of drugged sweet wine
With forgetfulness as an anodyne.

That is the lure of the South Sea's song

That clings in the hearts of men so long


When friendship fails and removes a mask

Revealing selfish lust that makes loyalty a task;

When passions flames are buried to smoky ash

And joys a memory and laughter’s trash;

When all that’s clean and fine and best in you
Is slimed by one you love...... when all you do
Is not enough by half
And life is a jest,
A sorry one at that, when you detest
The memory of all the tender things you gave in love
And wish by God you where dead, the poets say
Blue skies are healing
Some find the babble of a brook appealing,
Some walk the night in starry contemplation,
But for me right now
Such things are darned poor consolation.

 Ginger's Poem 
White Ginger is like scented wings of moths
Shell Ginger is a mermaid's dainty chain
Torch Ginger is a staff of petal flame
Burning, defiant of the quenching rain
The Yellow Ginger yields a sweet perfume
To catch and hold the heart in woven leis
Red ginger is the warm blood of Hawaii
Spilling its laughter through the tropic days.


West of the sunset stands my house;
There..and east of the dawn;
North to the Arctic runs my yard;
South to the Pole, my lawn;
Seven seas are to sail my ships
To the ends of the earth... beyond;
Drifter's gold is for me to spend -
For I am a vagabond.

Fabulous cities are mine to loot;
Queens of the earth to wed;
Fruits of the world are mine to eat;
The couch of a king, my bed;
All that I see is mine to keep;
Foolish the fancy seems,
But I am rich with the wealth of Sight'
The coin of the realm of dreams...

Joshua Trees
Sentries by day with bayonets on guard,
Prophets by night in attitudes of prayer;
But when the dusk spreads veils across the hard
Sharp outlines of the land they hear an air,
Piped on a Pan-ic flute, unseen and far,
An echo from and older, gayer land;
They catch the winking of an elfin star
And dance a quaint arthritic saraband.


Bird of Evil Flame
I am the ageless Bird of Evil Flame.
Eve knew my name.
With bitter tears she tried to quench the spark
Of envy in her son's bewildered heart. The dark
Fumes, stirred by my swift subtle wings,
Clouded his eyes with acrid billowing
Until the tragic flood.
Of brother's blood
Left its indelible stain . . .
The Mark of Cain.

I am the Great Incendiary;
My swift flights carry
The ember to the flame, the flame to burning brand
Until a fiery scourge consumes a stricken land.
I feed ambition's fire, On its red raging pyre
A nation's honor burns to smoldering ash,
My pinions lash
The coals of racial hatreds into cruel
Tyrannies of blood-lust, spilling the fuel
Of lies, the quick inflaming dust
Until the flames that flicker through the crust
Of Hell are flaring in each race and nation.
I am the Endless Conflagration.
I am the sullen cinder,
The inflammable tinder;
I am not quenched, but fed, by tears.
These years of war have been my greatest years.
Peace thinks she buried me . . . the grave is shallow.
The clods that weight my wings are waiting, fallow,
For seeds of flame sown by my fertile breath.
The seeds are fear and greed, the harvest Death.
I am Delirium, the Insidious Fever,
I am the ultimate Deceiver,
I am the ageless Bird of Evil Flame.
You know my name.

Now that the shadows of twilight are 
stealing into the corners of my room, 
I'll open the covers of my favorites books, 
then if I sit very still and watch 
through the weaving magic of my cigarette smoke, 
I may see these well loved characters 
stepping quietly forth from the thumbed pages, 
Huck Finn, or Samuel, Galahad, Eve and her Adam, and Moby Dick.

One by one they whisper their curious stories
 until I turn on the lights of evening, 
The arch enemy of dreams.
But If I listen I can hear the rustle of their garments,
 the echoes of their laughter
and the faint murmur of their voices in and by the shelves.

Moon Rainbow
 Staid people say that Pan is dead
But they are wrong. His shaggy head
I saw but yesterday at noon,
And once before when shone the moon
Across Manoa Valley where The ginger blooms.
The evening air
Was still…so still it made me fear
That if I shivered He might hear.
I waited while a silver mist
Skimmed down the sky. A moonbeam kissed
The gauzy veil. Pan looked around
And piped. A magic arch of sound
Curved out upon the misty air…
A lunar rainbow shimmered there.

When If Ever
When blood is water; when the call of spring
Falls dully on my ears; when everything
Is just one heavy monotone of gray
And dawn’s a torture, meaning "here’s a day
To live in weary waiting for the night
With sleep to blot all beauty from my sight";
When tears and love and laughter are the same;
When life’s a task and not a joyous game;
When living’s but a race without a goal;
When I am old in body, heart, and soul;
When all I know as me in me has fled;
Then, and then only, will I say, "God Pan is dead!"

The Right Touch

Love will fly if held too tightly.

Love will die if held too lightly.

How do I know?
Whether I am killing or letting go?

So Clever

Clever of you to leave your glove behind

Touched with a bit of delicate perfume.

You knew I catch the fragrance in this room.

And summon your vivid image to mind.

Vagabond's House
When I have a house . . . as I sometime may . . .
I'll suit my fancy in every way.
I'll fill it with things that have caught my eye
In drifting from Iceland to Molokai.
It won't be correct or in period style,
But . . . oh, I've thought for a long, long while
Of all the corners and all the nooks,
Of all the bookshelves and all the books,
The great big table, the deep soft chairs,
And the Chinese rug at the foot of the stairs
(It's an old, old rug from far Chow Wan
That a Chinese princess once walked on).

My house will stand on the side of a hill
By a slow, broad river, deep and still,
With a tall lone pine on guard nearby
Where the birds can sing and the storm winds cry.
A flagstone walk, with lazy curves,
Will lead to the door where a Pan's head serves
As a knocker there, like a vibrant drum,
To let me know that a friend has come,
And the door will squeak as I swing it wide
To welcome you to the cheer inside.

For I’ll have good friends who can sit and chat
Or simply sit, when it comes to that,
By the fireplace where the fir logs blaze
And the smoke rolls up in a weaving haze.
I’ll want a wood box, scarred and rough
For leaves and bark and odorous stuff,
Like resinous knots and cones and gums,
To toss on the flames when winter comes.
And I hope a cricket will stay around,
For I love its creaky lonesome sound.

There’ll be driftwood powder to burn on logs
And a shaggy rug for a couple of dogs,
Boreas, winner of prize and cup,
And Mickey, a lovable gutter-pup.
Thoroughbreds, both of them, right from the start,
One by breeding, the other by heart.
There are times when only a dog will do
For a friend . . . when you’re beaten, sick and blue
And the world’s all wrong, for he won’t care
If you break and cry, or grouch and swear,
For he’ll let you know as he licks your hands
That he’s downright sorry . . . and understands.

I’ll have on a bench a box inlaid
With dragon-plaques of milk white jade
To hold my own particular brand
Of cigarettes brought from the Pharaohs land,
With a cloisonné bowl on a lizards skin
To flick my cigarette ashes in.
And a squat blue jar for a certain blend
Of pipe tobacco, I’ll have to send
To a quaint old chap I chanced to meet
In his fusty shop on a London street.

A long low shelf of teak will hold
My best-loved books in leather and gold,
While magazines lie on a bowlegged stand,
In a polyglot mixture close at hand.
I’ll have on a table; a rich brocade
That I think the pixies must have made,
For the dull gold thread on blues and grays
Weaves a pattern of Puck . . . the Magic Maze.
On the mantelpiece I’ll have a place
For a little mud god with a painted face
That was given to me . . . oh, long ago,
By a Philippine maid in Olangapo.

Then just in range of a lazy reach . . .
A bulging bowl of Indian beech
Will brim with things that are good to munch,
Hickory nuts to crack and crunch;
Big fat raisins and sun-dried dates,
And curious fruits from the Malay Straits;
Maple sugar and cookies brown
With good hard cider to wash them down;
Wine-sap apples, pick of the crop,
And ears of corn to shell and pop
With plenty of butter and lots of salt . . .
If you don’t get filled it’s not my fault.

And there where the shadows fall I’ve planned
To have a magnificent concert-grand
With polished wood and ivory keys,
For wild discordant rhapsodies,
For wailing minor Hindu songs,
For Chinese chants and clanging gongs,
For flippant jazz, and for lullabies,
And moody things that I’ll improvise
To play the long gray dusk away
And bid goodbye to another day.

Pictures . . . I think I’ll have but three:
One, in oil, of a windswept sea
With the flying scud and the waves whipped white . . .
(I know the chap who can paint it right)
In lapis blue and deep jade green . . .
A great big smashing fine marine
That’ll make you feel the spray in your face.
I’ll hang it over my fireplace.

The second picture . . . a freakish thing . . .
Is gaudy and bright as a macaw’s wing,
An impressionist smear called “Sin”,
A nude on a striped zebra skin
By a Danish girl I knew in France.
My respectable friends will look askance
At the purple eyes and the scarlet hair,
At the pallid face and the evil stare
Of the sinister, beautiful vampire face.
I shouldn’t have it about the place,
But I like . . . while I loathe . . . the beastly thing,
And that’s the way that one feels about sin.

The picture I love the best of all
Will hang alone on my study wall
Where the sunset’s glow and the moon’s cold gleam
Will fall on the face, and make it seem
That the eyes in the picture are meeting mine,
That the lips are curved in the fine sweet line
Of that wistful, tender, provocative smile
That has stirred my heart for a wondrous while.
It’s a sketch of the girl who loved too well
To tie me down to that bit of Hell
That a drifter knows when he knows he’s held
By the soft, strong chains that passions weld.
It was best for her and for me, I know,
That she measured my love and bade me go
For we both have our great illusion yet
Unsoiled, unspoiled by vain regret.
I won’t deny that it makes me sad
To know that I’ve missed what I might have had.
It’s a clean sweet memory, quite apart,
And I’ve been faithful . . . in my heart.

All these things I will have about,
Not a one could I do without;
Cedar and sandalwood chips to burn
In the tarnished bowl of a copper urn;
A paperweight of meteorite
That seared and scorched the sky one night,
A Moro Kris . . . my paper knife . . .
Once slit the throat of a Rajah’s wife.
The beams of my house will be fragrant wood
That once in a teeming jungle stood
As a proud tall tree where the leopards crouched
And the parrots screamed and the black men crouched.

The roof must have a rakish dip
To shadowy eaves where the rain can drip
In a damp persistent tuneful way;
It’s a cheerful sound on a gloomy day.
And I want a shingle loose somewhere
To wail like a banshee in despair
When the wind is high and the storm-gods race
And I am snug by my fireplace.

I hope a couple of birds will nest
Around the house. I’ll do my best
To make them happy, so every year
They’ll raise their brood of fledglings here.

When I have my house I’ll suit myself
And have what I call my “Condiment Shelf”,
Filled with all manner of herbs and spice,
Curry and chutney for meats and rice,
Pots and bottles of extracts rare . . .
Onions and garlic will both be there . . .
And soya and saffron and savory goo
And stuff that I’ll buy from an old Hindu;
Ginger with syrup in quaint stone jars;
Almonds and figs in tinseled bars;
Astrakhan caviar, highly prized,
And citron and orange peel crystallized;
Anchovy paste and poha jam;
Basil and chili and marjoram;
And flavors that come from Samarkand;
And, hung with a string from a handy hook,
Will be a dog-eared, well-thumbed book
That is pasted full of recipes
From France and Spain and the Caribbean;
Roots and leaves and herbs to use
For curious soups and odd ragouts.

I’ll have a cook that I’ll name “Oh Joy”,
A sleek, fat, yellow-faced China boy
Who can roast a pig or mix a drink,
(You can’t improve on a slant-eyed Chink).
On the gray-stone hearth there’ll be a mat
For a scrappy, swaggering yellow cat
With a war-scarred face from a hundred fights
With neighbor’s cats on moonlight nights.
A wise old Tom who can hold his own
And make my dogs let him alone.

I’ll have a window-seat broad and deep
Where I can sprawl to read or sleep,
With windows placed so I can turn
And watch the sunsets blaze and burn
Beyond high peaks that scar the sky
Like bare white wolf-fangs that defy
The very gods. I’ll have a nook
For a savage idol that I took
From a ruined temple in Peru,
A demon-chaser named Mang-Chu
To guard my house by night and day
And keep all evil things away.

Pewter and bronze and hammered brass;
Old carved wood and gleaming glass;
Candles and polychrome candlesticks,
And peasant lamps with floating wicks;
Dragons in silk on a Mandarin suit
In a chest that is filled with vagabond-loot.
All of the beautiful, useless things
That a vagabond’s aimless drifting brings.

Then, when my house is all complete
I’ll stretch me out on the window seat
With a favorite book and a cigarette,
And a long cool drink that Oh Joy will get;
And I’ll look about at my bachelor-nest
While the sun goes zooming down the west,
And the hot gold light will fall on my face
And make me think of some heathen place
That I’ve failed to see . . . that I’ve missed some way . . .
A place that I’d planned to find some day,
And I’ll feel the lure of it driving me.
Oh damn! I know what the end will be

I’ll go. And my house will fall away
While the mice by night and the moths by day
Will nibble the covers off all my books,
And the spiders weave in the shadowed nooks.
And my dogs . . . I’ll see that they have a home
While I follow the sun, while I drift and roam
To the ends of the earth like a chip on the stream,
Like a straw on the wind, like a vagrant dream;
And the thought will strike with a swift sharp pain
That I probably never will build again
This house that I’ll have in some far day
Well . . . it’s just a dream house, anyway.



My treasure chest is filled with gold.
Gold . . . Gold . . . Gold . . .
Vagabond's gold and drifter's gold . . .
Worthless, priceless, dreamer's gold . . .
Gold of the sunset . . . gold of the dawn . . .
Gold of the shower trees on my lawn . . .
Poet's gold and artist's gold . . .
Gold that cannot be bought or sold --


Do not carve on stone or wood,
"He was honest" or "He was good."
Write in smoke on a passing breeze
Seven words... and the words are these,
Telling all that a volume could,
"He lived, he laughed and... he understood."

1 comment:

  1. Nice selection of Blanding's work. FYI for you or others. I am his biographer and am writing now. I hope to have something ready by next July. I've been an admirer,collector for over 50 years. There is more to him than most of his fans/admirers know. tj