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After that first time, he called me on a snowy night
asked me to come to his apartment for drinks with
him and his mother. I wound up spending the night.
His roommate was another policeman away then.
This other guy was engaged and apparently straight.
They slept on mattresses on J’s bedroom floor.
I lay down on the roommate’s mattress; soon J was
calling me over to his where he asked me if I kissed.
We became more intimate and asked if I 69’d. Then
“brown me” he said squirming over. But the next
week he accused me of turning him queer, beat me.
I was not naïve: so left Amarillo within the week.
He found I’d gotten a job as a reporter in Dallas and
came to the copy desk at the Times Herald alternately
saying he loved me and threatening me. I moved again.
One day, years later, that old roommate phoned me in
Boston and told me J had shot himself leaving my
telephone number on a note asking that I be called.
J was 33, Arnie said, was a Korean War vet and had
gotten a B.A. at North Texas in Denton on the G.I.Bill.
Arnie said he didn’’t know what J’s demons were,
been a good friend, was his best man at the wedding:
Arnie and Maris named their first son, Jay, after him.
Arnie said J had been fired from the Police Department
for excessive violence in arrests, a questioned stakeout,
but mainly because of his drunkenness. All through
those years he’s mentioned me and kept the photo of
the three of us everywhere he lived next to the bed; and
Arnie asked if I would like it. I said “keep it for Jay.”
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Come Up and Touch Me
Life is a hair shirt, keep the hope light on.
You never no, you sometimes yes, you
just have to proceed by gosh and by guess.
Like the large commercial washer on the left
life keeps washing washing, won’t go to rinse.
Books you order are out of stock, unavailable.
Sneer, scowl, aggrieved, petulant patrons ask
what are the fresh daily specials, soups
and then order cheeseburgers with fries.
If for any reason there is dissatisfaction with
this particular poem or with the paper please
return the numbered page with your complaint.
Returns policy (effective Sept. l, 1997) covers
all purchases within 14 days in saleable shape
except for study, travel guides and CDs.
Today in survival history Friday July 2, 1982
a North Hollywood truck driver hooked 45
weather balloons to his lawn chair and rose up.
7 deadly sins:pride,greed,lust,envy,gluttony,
anger,sloth plus 7 heavenly virtues:prudence,
Life’s tight,fussy,overworked — a watercolor.
Then there is mercy in forgetting for a while.
she picked me up in her SCION ice-box-on-its-side hearse with
the side and back windows she had darkened, like a
limo—for privacy: because it doesn't have a storage trunk. it's
a nice car to get in and out of: my hips get frozenup now
some days and that's a good aspect. she is back in form and
she is a good driver. at least her manner gives one confidence
that she is even if perhaps she might not be. but at least i
won't be all crazily in fear before the final crackup.
(i seem to be becoming a nervous passenger) (i blame it on
the artist who LOOKS at EVERYTHING—[i blame a lot of
things on him but never never tell him UNTIL I SCREAM IT
OUT LOUD SOMETIMES: it's a spousal thing i am
thinking]—when he drives and i get all like "hey watch the
road" and then he turns to me and engages plus keeps looking
at everything and the road too.) (so it's my problem i know
but also my life and my death and the heck with it.)
sometimes i think you shouldn't passenger with the people
you sleep with. but maybe that's just me. and i only think this
way sometimes. you might say. poor artist: i recall reading
several times in my life the saying (who said it?) when i meet
a poet i want to wash. it must be hard for him having me. of
course it's hard for me, too—and 2 hards make a smile. so it works out.
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Islands in Middle
Recall the old Zen story of the person who comes to an obstruction
right in the middle of
the journey of life and sees three choices
1 attempt to force advance 2 go around 3 turn about and go back and
maybe find some
other life highway to begin on some other mode.
But person does the zen thing and just sits there and meditates; and
after some time
notices hot dog stands, vegi bars, shops, bookstalls,
discos that have been setup by other travelers
who “paused” and
sees they have created a whole new community unplanned.
One day person finds a circus nearby and as the OMs would have it meets
a lama who sells him the mantra “OM PADMOSNISA VIMALE HUM PHAT”/
it’s said in the Ksitigarbha Dascakra Sutra that whosoever sees,
hears, remembers, or touches this prayer
will be purified of negativity
gain freedom from rebirth in lower regions.
Person begins to reproduce the mantra on saffron-colored strips and
then later with pastels (paper, cloth, plastic, tin, but not leather)
and then with more primary colors, also with
light printing on a darker
field and sells them cheaply at some recitations
(of his life, so far) making many friends including a balloonist who
offers him a ride up/over
the initial obstruction: and the story that
goes on from there is one that journeyers may navigate for themselves
on the river of life when they come to an island.
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I Am a Fact Not a Fiction
I am a fact, not a fiction
a rite, not a ritual
a progression, not a procedure
a song, not a schedule
I am in my life and I live it
— partake it, enjoy it, wonder at it
I’m green leaves aquiver
red clouds aflutter
whacky as Christopher Smart
talking to cats
and alone in dark forests
in short pants
I am Niagara River crashing
over the Falls
cascading through the gorge
to the Devil’s Hole
sweeping into the last Great Lake
— Erie to Ontario—
surging into the great Lawrence
into my mother Atlantic
rising forward & into the clouds
I cut with the knife of the times
out onto the rocks
the Cape of Good Hope to India
South China Sea
sieving through Oceana’s islands
up past Galapagos north home shore
San Francisco and my love’s bed
I am a fact not a fiction.