Harry Youtt

Harry Harry Youtt graduated from Lorain High School in 1960. He spent twenty years as a trial lawyer in New York City. Now he is a frequently published poet and writer, living in California and Arizona with his wife, Judith. He has been teaching classes in creative writing in the UCLA Writers' Program (Ext.) since 1990.

A member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, he’s the author of more than nine collections of poetry, including What My Father Didn’t Know I Learned From Him, Even the Autumn Leaves, Outbound For Elsewhere, and I’ll Always Be From Lorain.

For several years, he conducted an annual workshop for poets in Wales in the Swansea house where Dylan Thomas was born.

Youtt also created and wrote the acclaimed pilot season website for the David E. Kelley ABC TV night-time drama series: The Practice.

Bibliography:

  • What My Father Didn't Know I Learned From Him. (2001)
  • Even the Autumn Leaves.
  • Outbound for Elsewhere.
  • I'll Always Be From Lorain. (2006)

More Information:

Information about Harry Youtt is provided at his publisher's website. 

Harry Youtt's website.


These poems are from I'LL ALWAYS BE FROM LORAIN

LIBRARY IN THE GROVE

Midst a darker grove of trees in that city of darker

groves,

and the long lawn between the trees

criss-crossed by dim-lighted pathways at night,

and standing alone against the sharp blue darkness

-- the old brick library,

window-lighted on both of its floors

when things inside were active.

The boy was certain that down in the dark of the

grove,

Arthur and his Knights were dreaming,

sleeping their long sleep until they were needed,

huddled against each other for warmth.

and concealed inside a deep clay cave

scooped from under the flourishing roots of tallest

Ash tree.

They awaited only the signal to action,

the almost-whispered call of that tiny librarian

whose passion in this life it always was

to enrapture children’s minds,

infuse them with possibilities that always

burst upward from imagination’s universal mantra:

"Once upon a time . . ."

Hearing this quiet proclamation drift out

through a slightly opened window

of the story room upstairs,

a single groved horse would whinny,

tentative at first, as if clearing its deep throat,

and then another horse would answer, and another.

Hooves would stomp, and crackled leaves would rustle;

shields and swords and armor would clank,

and then hoof beats would suddenly gallop Arthur and

his men

across the grove with only shadows of them visible

in low light from street lamps

With a rush and a rumble, in they would burst,

through the double doors, onto the first floor,

scattering the tattered runner-rugs and

almost upsetting the glassed arrays of new books,

and then, clattering up the rickety wooden staircase

-- and into the story room to greet the floored

circle of

open-mouthed children, whose faces never flinched.

No one from the reading room or even from the stacks

would ever even think to try and shoosh them.

Now, fifty, no, almost sixty years later

the mouth of the boy inside the man-grown-old

but never grown too old for new stories, or old

stories,

hangs open, at the vision of that grand and dark

birthday cake of a library building

in the middle of that darker grove,

and Arthur and his Knights, roused from their long

sleep,

pounding through the magic all around,

And in the center of every possibility,

always that tiny librarian.

IN THE GRAND OLD BLAST FURNACE DAYS

In the grand old blast furnace days,

they’d be roaring constant,

smoke belching from every smokestack,

and 28th Street with all of its

beer-scented bars and saloons

ready to welcome the end of a shift.

Clouds of smoke and white steam,

billowing up and angling into the sky,

like some devil-ship, locked solid into the land,

and at any hour of deep night was an orange glow

lighting up the darkness into twilight, all night –

the kind of glow that only visits the city of

prosperity –

and only while it flourishes.

Thousands working 3-to-11, 7-to-3, 11-to-7

swing shifting with whistles blowing,

and sirens – yes, sometimes sirens,

and always factory-belch and groan,

hard work and no complaining,

or everybody complaining,

depending on who you listened to,

with seamless mills and the line for continuous weld

hungry always for fresh ingot,

and the blast furnaces eager to comply.

When the wind was right, on warm nights

would be this ripe smell of what people said

was like rotten eggs –

they called it Hell’s aroma, and it was, and yet

when you closed your eyes on it, you could smile

– it was the smell of work going strong

and never going to let up, the smell released

from toil of leather-aproned heroes, perspiring

and standing back, shielding faces from bright glow

and flashing spark of new steel that was ladle-poured

and wrought just now before their eyes

-- almost ready to ship to the world.

OCTOBER LEAVES

October leaves of Lorain trees would flash

bright yellow and red and also crackle-brown

and flutter down to blanket the lawns

and have to be swept into heaps

at the paved aprons of driveways

and than burned on still days –

with smoke meandering upward

in the low light quiet parts of the dwindling days.

And old men and young boys would go outside

with scraping rakes and packs of matches,

just for a chance to stand in the smoke

and breathe deeply.

It was the women who wanted

the blankets of leaves cleared from the lawns

and kept from blowing into nuisances.

The men didn’t care about that;

they only loved to stand around and smell the smoke

-- and dream their visions.

Old men and young boys would stand and let the air

crispen around them

as the late sun disappeared on schedule,

earlier today than yesterday

and much earlier than last Saturday

when it still was Daylight Savings Time.

And in the darkening, the cores of burning leaf piles

would glow bright orange, like new-poured slag,

brightening faces of the old men and the young boys,

warming them, as they stood, leaning on rakes,

talking about the Browns and the Buckeyes,

telling tales about summer fish,

contemplating autumn,

and beginning to wonder what’s for dinner..

FISH FRY AT THE MOOSE HALL

Summer Fridays the Moose Hall on Broadway

would be deep-frying whole pickerel,

fresh off the fishing boats docked in the river --

would serve the pickerel on paper plates,

with copious tartar sauce

-- French fries and cole slaw.

People would sit on folding wooden chairs

at long tables covered with white paper,

sipping new-tapped beer in frosted glasses

from the bar, marveling at the bounty,

while my Uncle Harold

in short sleeved dress shirt and bolo tie

sat silent, as he always did,

picking over the bones with a slow fork,

and only nodding for a moment

with unsmiling face

to someone down the line

who’d be saying,

didn’t this taste even better

than lobster?