Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

He's a poet and he knows it


December 4, 2019 | View PDF

Vicky Dorvee

Poet Ian Hayes sits in his den, shelves containing decades of Reader's Digest Magazines in front of him.

Edison was chided

"It really is berserk,

You had so many failures,

Before you made it work."

Edison responded:

"Failures I had none.

From my wrong assumptions,

I learned to get it done."

- By Ian Hayes, based on words from Thomas Edison

From his hilltop home, 88 year old Ian Hayes has a front row seat to a long stretch of the Front Range. Hayes and his wife Jackie moved to their home on the edge of Niwot two years ago, along with Monte the dog and Carlo the cat. Yes, that's Monte Carlo when you put their names together.

Putting words together is Ian's passion or as he says, "a requirement." The origin of Hayes' works is what makes them particularly rare - they're more often than not, a rephrasing of other people's words. Speeches and stories, quotes and songs, and online reads can launch Hayes into his poetry-writing mode.

Hayes adapts and expands on others' words because, "It's something that would otherwise be lost, refreshened into rhyme."

London was Hayes' birthplace and he remembers World War II bombs raining down on the city. He went directly into the army after high school where he was trained to be a radar mechanic. He earned his engineering degree at Imperial College in London in 1954 and apprenticed for two years, then successfully worked his way up the corporate ladder.

In 1976, an unsolicited phone call from a California company let him know that his engineering skills were in demand in the electric railway industry. So at 45 years old, he moved to San Francisco along with his two daughters and the first of his four wives. It was Hayes' home for 16 years, followed by 10 years living in Boston.

His career took him to travels, and at times, living in South Africa, Australia, Canada, and Pakistan. He formally retired in 2018.

After two divorces (from his British wife and then an American wife) and the passing of his third wife, a Canadian, 73-year-old Hayes was waiting at a bus stop in Denver early one morning when he met Jackie.

"There was nobody else on the bus. I sat this side, she sat that side....we hobnobbed and then I stayed on until she got off," Hayes said. "And I asked for her phone number." They married 10 weeks later.

Their home is filled with collections of items they love. One of those collections is a neatly packed wall of 2,600 Reader's Digest Magazines in sequential order. Hayes often randomly selects an issue to spark an idea for a new poem.

These days Hayes finds getting up, standing and walking very difficult, so he uses a cane and gets around his yard with a golf cart. His quick wit, warmth, and conversational skills counterbalance the slowness of his mobility.

"Wisdom is not knowledge. Wisdom is to know what to do with your knowledge. How to use it, not when to use it and to shut up if it's the right thing to do," Hayes said. "Of course, that's the subject of all of this clutter here," Hayes says as he points to the fanned out books on the table.

Three years ago, Hayes' stepson David Byrd edited, organized, printed, and bound the poems Hayes began writing more than four decades ago into 10 books titled "In Other Words." The 1,000 pieces of work encompass love, divorce, anger, and grief all in a sweet, feisty, and uplifting style.

"They just shake out," he said, but sometimes that process takes hours. "I get a lot of pleasure out of it."

Taking the germ of what crosses his path, often from such famous people as Winston Churchill, Marianne Williamson, and Dolly Parton, Hayes finds the beat and appropriate rhyming verses to share the feelings he experienced from the originals - always acknowledging the source.

From entering the army which started his engineering path, to the call that led him to work in America, Hayes said, "I've never been a person to create my life. It's always been created for me. I've always done as I've been required. " His writing is a requirement too he said, referring to his belief that "the man above" runs his life.

"When I read these poems, sometimes I can't finish it because tears come to my eyes," Hayes said. "How do you explain that one?"

Some luck is not in getting the things you think you want.

The luck is having what you have and calling it your own.

One day you might be smart enough to see that what you have

Is what you would have wanted if earlier you'd known.

- By Ian Hayes, based on words from Garrison Keillor

To reach Ian Hayes and learn more about his poetry and his books, write to IHayes@ltk.com.

Note: Ian came to the attention of the Courier when he submitted a rewriting of reporter Abigail Scott's article Sprouting wings leads to growing unexpected roots - https://www.lhvc.com/story/2019/10/23/news/sprouting-wings-leads-to-growing-unexpected-roots/5045.html.


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