Poet Harold Norse In November

Dear Reader,

My early November ’08 mood has started out much like past November moods: slightly depressed because the year’s closing down, wishful there’ll be cards in my mailbox on my birthday even though there’s never mail delivery on that day; and mopey from the early evening darkness.

This November I reread sections of A Geography of Poets (1979), and I realized several poets listed in it are now dead: Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, James Whitehead, and Harold Norse―or so I thought. I was wrong about Norse; he’s old, born in 1916, but alive, and this makes me happy. I’m comforted by his longevity.

My November mood has shifted to hopeful, so I’m going to share with you Norse’s hopeful (?) poem “In November. ” From Harold Norse · Hotel Nirvana: Selected Poems 1953-1973.

In November

In November I lost my food stamps, the computer said I did not exist

In November I lost my best friend who said I did not exist

In Novber I lost my manuscripts and felt as if I did not exist

In November I sent 2 postcards to my mother who wrote back saying

she had not heard from me and DID I STILL EXIST?

In November I paid the telephone bill and received a final notice

for non-payment

In November my girlfriend accused me of unreality and infrequency

with a tendency to dematerialize on week ends and holidays

even Jewish ones and stormed out leaving a sinkful of dirty

dishes and linen blackened by her feet, souvenirs of blood

and tobacco burns

In November my checks bounced, mail stopped arriving, the toilet

clogged, the cat chocked, my poems were rejected, I got worms,

the clap and psoriasis of the anus, all I needed was an

earthquake to prove my destiny was not to be overlooked,

and one was long overdue according to the latest reliable

heavenly and scientific sources

In November I looked for all my published works in City Lights

Bookstore and found only my early translations of Belli,

I did not exist on the bookshelves altho’ a thesis to prove

that I did exist was written by some kid in Arkansas, 300 pages

that nobody ever read called Orpheus Unacclaimed: Harold Norse,

So What?

In November I gave a poetry reading which was so well advertised

one day in advance that 5 people actually came, 4 of them

drunk and cantankerous, the fifth had lost his way to the

toilet, and one of the drunks kept asking, “Tell me how

to win! I’m sick of being a loser!” and I answered from

years of eminence: “Be invisible!”

In November when I crossed the street with the light a grayhaired

man in a Cadillac looking like Spiro Agnew tried to run me

down and swore because he missed me, something about Law and


In November I screamed at the neighbors upstairs who played stereo

hard rock all day and night that crashed thru the floorboards

but they said I was a liar it was music not noise and I was a

fink for complaining and the one who practiced karate over my

bedroom from midnight until 3am said why didn’t I take up yoga

and gain deliverance from bad karma so they went on playing

their rock and hammering on the floor and stomping in boots

and breaking bricks until 4am as I did not exist and

In November I gave thanks for all my blessings without a turkey, with

one good ear, high cholesterol, 59¢, 145 lbs. and 2 good balls.


4 Responses to “Poet Harold Norse In November”

  1. 1 Jimmy 05/01/2009 at 12:52 pm


    I’m an old friend of Harolds. Have lost touch with him over the past years. His telephone has been disconnected. Do you have any more information about his health? Whereabouts? Jim

  2. 2 Faye Quam Heimerl 05/04/2009 at 8:18 pm

    Hi Jimmy,

    I’m sorry to say I don’t have any contact information for Harold Norse, but I find some, I’ll for sure forward it to you. Best! Faye

  3. 3 Dr Larry Myers 06/19/2009 at 4:42 am

    thank you for this post!
    when a mention of harold appeared in the bay area reporter vis a vis my play about him I put 2 old friends of his in touch with him
    thank you for yr concern & verve

  4. 4 Faye Quam Heimerl 06/24/2009 at 9:39 pm

    What’s the name of your play? Is it in print?

    Funny thing: while you were typing to me I was probably reading one of two Harold Norse poems I’d selected for the poetry open mic I host in Westminster, CO. I’d recently learned he had died, so I wanted to honor him by introducing him to the poets in attendance and sharing his sense of humor. The crowd loved “You Must Have Been a Sensational Baby,” the first Harold Norse poem I ever read way back when.


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November 2008
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Photo Credits: Header - Barbara McNichol, Author - Bernadette Garcia

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