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Grade A: Hurricane

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.

Hurricane

 

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,

the wine

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

fade in,

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.”

Grade A: Beatrice

Written in Albuquerque (Terrace SE), November 2006.  I was telling the story of Dante and Beatrice to my Humanities class and suddenly got sick of this, well, abuse of a girl who was probably quite ordinary.  Most people I’ve ever fallen in love with have been!  Published in my books The Hardest Thing and Wings of the Gray Moon, and in the local zine Central Avenue.

Beatrice

 

She was probably like other girls,

Dante’s ten thousand stanzas notwithstanding.

She probably did spot the sickly boy in the street

but it wouldn’t have occurred to her she caused the sickly.

When she smiled at him,

that was manners,

when she gave him the cold front,

she had her period that day.

More than anything she thought about clothes,

giggled at the idea of bodyparts

with her nastier girlfriends.

She went to church,

but to study the fine women’s intricate hairdos,

not because any kind of paradise

was her real home.

To such a wisp

theology’d just be scary.

And so would poetry.  And rightly.

She knew how she was supposed to act

when the sun came out, when the snow came down,

and how she liked to act.

She married, as far as we know,

obeying her parents,

and she died, we do know this,

still teenaged,

obeying her God.

A Christian child

but a child.

Love kept outside of her probably,

respecting her play,

her silence.

She never found out her silence had been broken

these seven hundred years.