Written in Albuquerque (Terrace SE), June 2012: addressed to Sari Krosinsky. Some of the incidents described have been moved slightly to have the verses take place ten years apart. “Lee” is my ex-wife Leora. “An Officer and a Gentleman” was filmed in Port Townsend, WA, where I moved in 1982. The monastery in Chama Canyon near Abiquiu, NM is called Christ in the Desert. My summer camp counselor’s name in the early ’60’s was Nick Meyers. Frank and Lucy are my older brother and sister, and Steve and Kathy Lewis the children of my mother’s friend Peg. Published in Irretrievable.
In the last month of the first year of my seventh decade
I’m hoping after this sleep
you can wake to another flavor in the air of yourself
brought and uncovered by the G-d you pray to
whom I’ve considered praying to for you
after thirty years of atheism,
at least holding you in my mind before him,
holding you out in my mind
in my losing dark gulf of what passes in me for thinking
before whatever can give you rejection
of the wish to die.
I can’t add words to these apparent prayers
because I have nothing to say to anybody but you
and in case I’m unheard
and have to live without you again,
these words will be over.
In the last month of the first year of my sixth decade
I see you less frequently since you split up with Nate
but also see how heavy and colorless that was for you,
you bring me the heavy colorless thing to see
on your shoulders,
in front of your walk,
far into your eyes.
Every night my own weight squeezes out of me
through a gibbering farthole
and I pour in it, in me,
and the slander of love
and the night I can’t take
and the day I love to leave.
In the last month of the first year of my fifth decade
Lee and I have made it through our little crises
of health and of fidelity
and it looks like the remaining bumps ahead
will involve the decision where under the sun
to put Lee’s strong garden,
seeing our shady smoke-licked rooms
have the strength of green growth anyway.
A thing in me, a great thing, dreads a house
which would smell like the past not the future,
an experience for my twenties, pointless then
let alone now.
But I seldom look any further than this weekend’s couple of sixpacks
and been awhile since we did that one puzzle—
In the last month of the first year of my fourth decade
we arrive in the same Northwest town, I realize,
where “An Officer and a Gentleman” was filmed.
This little blue motel’s corny name’s unmistakable.
Maybe if I land a job and have any money left over
they’ll let me stay in the room where that Gere-Winger sex scene happened.
I don’t think I’ll worry about a job very soon though:
the liberty I feel’s even better
than being near the sea air again.
I miss my baby son
but his hate of being handed back and forth was getting violent.
I can walk everywhere.
At night, double the number of stars as Albuquerque
even with the vast yellow dial of the courthouse clock.
In the last month of the first year of my third decade
I walk up the thirteen mile dirt road
back into Chama Canyon to the monastery.
The monks are in awe.
I tell them if a car’d come by I would’ve snagged a lift.
I’m glad one didn’t.
That road was my opportunity to lay dramatic distance
between my life and theirs
which I’m now joining for a week.
I know from previous trips it takes a few days
for the world to sift down low enough in your body
that it can’t be heard,
and God and his mother and all the saints and angels
hard in the sunlight.
In the last month of the first year of my second decade
my counselor strips my cot three times
and tosses the mattress on the floor three times
and three times makes me make it again
perfect, hospital corners,
he’s that mad.
“If you’d stuck to the first lie” he says
“no matter what, even when you had to elaborate it
and it got more outlandish and flimsier,
that woulda been one thing,
I coulda thought, this kid’s a pathological liar for some reason,
I hearda that, not the kinda thing someone can help …
but tonight when you all of a sudden admitted the truth
and denied you’d ever lied about it at all …
that made me think you were evil.
And you’re not.
You just like to lie.
It’s your goddamn hobby.
Make the goddamn bed again.”
In the last month of the first year of my first decade
my father prevents me
from charging into the room where the older kids are playing
and snatching up all their toys and charging off
by feeding me peanut butter on a spoon
or in my language, pin panner onna poon.
My brother Frank says
on behalf of Lucy, Kathy and Steve,
“Thanks for dealing with the Hurricane, dad.”