I saw Ted Barr smiling..

Oil painting by Ted Bar 3/87--James Kelly collection

Oil painting by Ted Bar 3/87–James Kelly collection

I saw Ted Barr smiling
That self-assured smile that Teddy smiled
Full of himself and his friends
I saw Ted Barr smiling down a long shot freeze frame
off the railroad tracks from the back of the Hersey street house
Where you could see half way through this little jumbled up town
I saw Ted Barr smiling at an empty paint spattered easel
And the guitar stand standing now on Union street
But I saw Ted Barr smiling from Clancy’s Pub
In Dublin town and I saw Ted Barr smiling
in the Log Cabin on the Plaza & the “Good” Club &
I saw Ted Barr smiling at the oars in the small row boat
through the morning mist and the glass surface of Immigrant Lake
I saw Ted Barr smiling now a true new immigrant on the shore we have yet to go.
It’s where I saw Ted smiling on his friends that loaded Teddy grin..
I saw that smile on Skidmore street where a brush with death
Brought on an on rush of oil and sweat and sweet fullness and life, lugubrious
Thighs and breast and haunch and thigh and pert cheeked tongued
Women on canvass, I saw Ted Barr smiling on oil and death and long legged
Sex in our life’s dance on pity and blood and the half-light of the last of the last
Summer of a Century of so damn much pain –I saw Ted Barr smiling
Teddy who’d never got caught in the cob web of what ‘ought’ to be
I saw Ted Barr smiling at the piano keyboard on Union street
I saw Teddy smiling the blues, I saw Ted smiling at us
I saw Ted Barr smiling at his one true piece of art— his own Amanda
Proud father he was I saw Ted Barr smiling at us that loaded fat Teddy grin
& I can’t pound these keys hard enough to let you know that howling wolf growl
because I saw Ted Barr smiling…

teddy 2


  1. Jim, dear,
    Cherry just sent this to me, and I was so touched! I’m now and old lady, still living in Oaxaca, Mexico, with many of Ted’s paintings hanging in my house. Amanda has a little red headed boy named Teddy, and I will join her in N. Carolina, next month for his third birthday. She is busy making art with Ted’s paints, and she and her husband own a bar in Carrboro. Thank you for this poem, and I hope that our paths will cross again some day. Jane



    1. Dearest Jane I’m an old man having retired from the Forest Service and having spent the past eighth of my life in Alaska, I have one son that is twenty and another that is 28, Dave the oldest lives in Ashland and is a carpenter, Joe the youngest has just bailed out of college at the University of Alaska and is working with his brother. I now live with my wife Anita amid walnut groves on the bank of the Sacramento River near Red Bluff. Teddy and I were good friends and I hope too that our paths might cross. I wrote the poem shortly after his memorial, and recently found it an tuned it up on this blog, my full-time right now are the poems here. We’ll see. My best regards to Amanda and her little Teddy.



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