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I said I would write.
The word seems a bit foreign to me,
And I am full of unsure things
It is full of illusion.
It is full of memories.
It is full of secrets.
And piled high with the bodies
Of those I have imagined.
I have not come here for six months.
That most likely due to some other memory
Another imagined person or event.
One of them rises and points to me.
“Write happy things,” she says.
Leave the dark places and come back to the light.
I said I would write.
Tommy and Heather were in trouble! Their lease was up. They had to move. All their furniture was out on the curb. They had no way to get it to their new apartment. What could they to do? Princess Zoe leapt to the rescue. Quickly she put on her princess gown, fastening it just so around her shoulders. Then she put on princess shoes and drove her big yellow dump truck to the where Tommy and Heather were standing sad with all their stuff. Away Princess Zoe drove with all their furniture in the truck and Tommy sleeping on top.
Zoe is running now, bare feet, toes on the hot concrete sidewalk. I see a man walking on the other side in the shadows of some large trees. He is putting on his shirt. He crosses the street toward us. Zoe stops when she sees him. He hails us, but I can’t hear him yet. The closer he gets the closer Zoe edges to me. By the time he gets to us, she is behind me, holding onto the hem of my shorts. “Hi there,” he says. He is talking to her. She has her fingers in her ears now.
A Foreman Grill sits on a glass table on a balcony attached to a third-floor apartment. It has gone through several stages of anxiety and worry. It has been sitting there unattended for nearly five weeks now. It has become familiar with the heat of the late morning sun, and the colors of the night sky. No longer embarrassed by the grease leaked out on the glass, it has even forgotten the incipient oxidation around its lower lip. It still doesn’t understand. Its cord hangs limp. Has it been forgotten? Has it been adopted by a lower class of people?
A solitary swallow sails down under the bridge. It is a swallow of memory of many swallows over big water. Somehow it has curved its way in lightest air to this place on its own, and this is a bad place for swallows. It has brought something hard and heavy that weighs it down, closer to the water with each crush of its wings. Even the wind pushes it down into the water until it is sailing in this thicker stuff. But it is still too heavy, even for water. The heart beats. The wings move. But it cannot fly.
I was going to poem.
I had some ideas.
How poem is;
How poem wants.
It hadn’t occurred
That Poem would
Go to you.
Think it through.
I should have prepared myself
With roadmaps, compass and
A good breakfast, a full tank of gas,
A lucky rabbit’s foot dangling
From the USB port on my machine.
Thesis, Topic sentence, research, references
And a full paragraph outline—well
Those are the tools to prevent surprise.
Otherwise Poem is a thing of will and want
Driven by whim.
You don’t write her;
She writes you.
In the morning, a sprout of timothy faces the rising sun through a nearby fence and there he sees the most beautiful flower. He cannot see the sun for a while that morning because he’s in the shadow of her perfect geometry. As she blooms it is as if they breather with one heart. If only he could speak to her! But she faces the rising sun. By noon, they are both vertical, following the sun. In the early evening this flower notices a bit of timothy through a nearby fence, facing the setting sun. Something of him captures her.
The maintenance man showed up with the new toilet around noon instead of 9 A.M. I was in the shower. He installed it in an hour and was gone. Today I noticed it rocked about a half inch when I put my hand on it. I also noticed a puddle of water in the corner beneath the tank. I went to the office to tell Melissa who sighed and called the maintenance man. “I could probably fix it myself, but I didn’t think you’d want me to,” I said. “No,” she said. “Let us be the ones to break it.”
The speed limit is 25 through the glen where we live. It has two blind curves and a lot of foot traffic. I was on the deck last night when a pizza driver careened around the corner doing 45. I pointed at him shouting, “Slow down!” He replied in universal sign language and sped around the next corner.
This morning a solitary egg hung from the wall above the deck. It’s a long throw to the third floor. I wondered how many eggs landed on the downstairs neighbor, or just broke in his hands. He should have used a catapult.
I am a little slow starting this morning. My brain is bouncy. I read Terry’s July entries from London. He writes interesting little personal snippets about riding mass transit. These are interspersed with musings on stabbing incidents and statistics and other personal joys and horrors. He had a birthday on the 31st, I think. (I had one myself 17 days later.) He likes his job, and he likes where he lives. There is something in there about a regular migration pattern to and from Australia. From what I read, he is a contented man. Happy Birthday from Brighton, Michigan, Terry.
The bike trip is scheduled Sept. 20 to 27. I am to go to Washington State with David to visit Fred who has a 92 FXRS and an ‘03 Electraglide for us to fight over. Fred reserves the Sturgis for himself. Fred suggests several short trips including a swing through the Cascades north or south, and out to the coast, and possibly a trip up to the Olympic Peninsula.
The thing is I already know I am not going. I don’t know why. I simply cannot wrap my brain around the thing. I’m going to have to tell them soon.
The Crone wakes in the middle of a dream about her chair, the walnut one her husband paid too much for at the auction after she touched it. He said it was the way she touched it. She feels a tug on her hair. Someone is brushing her hair. She can hear a young woman humming. Her scalp is alive to the brush strokes that seem to slide completely down her spine. It is here she realizes she is still dreaming. The room seems familiar. Wind is pushing the curtains away from the window. She feels rain on the air.
The gulls are air breaking over the surf, battling on the beach over a piece of orange rind. Tommy is trying to catch one, but they are too quick for his toddler reflexes. One of the young men lying on the beach jumps up and begins chasing the gulls. His movements are of a man used to catching chickens. In less than a minute he has handed a raging bird over to Tommy. The bird claws and bites the crap out of Tommy until he releases it, and runs crying to me. Not everything you want is good to have.
I am reading a book for the book club. It is another one of these after the apocalypse things. It tells a story of people living after the old life is gone. People lost in the new life. It is a story of survival on the road. It is a common theme in literature and film these days. It is an evil-eyed metaphor for life as we know it. It is a theme I play with in my writing. It must be some product of our society, or is it an old theme that has been with us for centuries?
The butterflies feel their way over the air currents in the dark over the grass in the glen below. They are beginning to harvest dew crystals now. Carrying them one at a time down to the pool in the woods that lie between the two ponds, they store them carefully in a certain place. They always follow the same path through the night and across a log that lies over the stream damming and creating the higher pond. It is as if they were walking it, but they never touch it, and, this is not where the dew is kept.
It’s late. I used to write late all the time, but I used to write poetry all the time. I haven’t written poetry for a good while now. Perhaps it has been a bad while. I’m not sure. I know I used to work on a number of poems at a time and that batch of partially finished poems is buried in this computer patiently waiting for me. They are poems written by a different man at a different time and honestly I am not sure I want to face them. I’m not ready to read what he was writing.
I was confused about what to do. Up seemed down. I walked out to the bus stop, but it never came. Several other people gathered around me also apparently waiting for the bus. Growing impatient, I asked aloud what time the bus was supposed to come. No one seemed to know. Soon after, a man ran out of a nearby house waving his arms and yelling, “No, no no!” That was nearly the extent of his vocabulary. He pointed to the sign, and said firmly, “No bus.” Then looking at the ground and crossing his arms he said, “Bus Stop.”
The woodpecker knocking at the side of the building is defining things. He is defining the amount of time this structure will hold out water, perhaps how long it will stand before it falls apart. He defines the movement of the bugs he hunts, how deep they will burrow, how long they will live, how well they will learn to dig through the side of an apartment building to run from a woodpecker, or whether an apartment building is a good place to go in the first place. He is defining the extent a woodpecker will go for a meal.
The bus finally did come. I had packed in a hurry. I didn’t have much. I wasn’t sure. I had a backpack. I had packed my laptop, but I wasn’t sure there would be electricity where I was going. I wasn’t sure a bus was the way to go. I paused at the bottom step, as they started to load my duffle. The driver looked at me. “Well?” he asked. I was thinking now. It was clearing in my head. I knew where I was going. I thought about the distances in that place. “I changed my mind,” I said.
I considered a motorcycle for a moment, but realized I might be there through the winter. I needed to take the car. I watched as the bus pulled out with Lester, the Old Soul, and the Crone. I wondered if they would be up there by themselves. I didn’t think so. They could have come with me in the car I supposed, but it was too late for that. The Crone waved, rolling her eyes. Lester pressed his nose against the window like a child. It made me think about Zoe back at the apartment. Things were just unraveling everywhere.
The car was a good idea. I could take more with me. I revised my ideas a little and decided I was going to have electricity where I was going. I might even stay a few miles to the south and get a place on the lake shore. I wasn’t sure. I packed a printer and some paper, but added some notebooks just in case. I made sure I had my inverter in case I screwed up on the electricity and had to get some things off the computer. I would get one of those cell cards for it too.
New. Create. The commands slip subliminal beneath my scalp as I issue them to the computer. I am at Kensington Park with Zoe, in the nature center. We are standing on a bridge watching a tiny, but busy stream beneath our feet. It is maybe five inches wide and two inches deep. The bridge, however, is over sixty feet long. “Fish?” Asks Zoe. Zoe likes fish. I will find her some before we leave. “No, not here,” I answer. “Not very likely.” Later on, we are walking a wide path through the oaks and hickories, and I am suddenly sad.
I realized this morning I needed another character for a story I am working. It seems a silly problem to me; I should just stick one in, but sticking in a character is a big deal. You cannot stick in just anyone. They come with implications. I’m thinking, as I fight with the punctuation keys on my keyboard, of Estragon. Already, some of the implications of naming the other character become clear, but I think I can live with those implications. Oh yes! Let it be Estragon. The contradictions alone will give me reason to get up in the morning!
Estragon sat on a picnic table at Kensington Park, watching Lester swing. Lester grinned his ragged grin at Estragon, and Estragon grinned back. Estragon did not feel a grin, but he knew it was good for Lester for him to grin. Lester was happier when he thought Estragon was happy, so Estragon managed a good grin for Lester whenever he remembered. Lester was letting the swing slow down now, brushing his feet in the dust, his head lying against one of the chains. A toe caught in the dirt and the swing began looping as Lester started singing to himself.
I walked with Lisa and Zoe to the mill pond yesterday and to the Play Station there where some pre school had already unloaded. You could identify the pre-school kids by the yellow t-shirts they all wore. I joked with Lisa that all we had to do was get Zoe a yellow t-shirt and slip her in with the crowd and she’d be taken care of for the rest of the day. I watched them as they herded the little ones back into formation to go. It required five attempts. The head count they were trying to reach was 24.
I had dinner with daughter Amanda last night. She complained about her bicycle, so after dinner we went out to the bike. The handlebars kept slipping out of the clamp. The clamp bolt was too long to tighten down properly. They had just worked loose, and Amanda and b/f had run out of bolt. Looking around the parking lot I found a squashed beer can. Ripping off the pop top, I wedged it into the open clamp and tightened it back down. It worked! I was a Hero! I realize, however, a new bike would have made a bigger hero.
I had a hard time sleeping last night. I was writing. Sometimes it is the other way around, but when the writing part of the brain goes to work, it is not particularly useful to try to go to sleep. Maybe I should have gotten up and just hit the keyboard, but I didn’t need to. The idea was pretty well branded in my brain before I finally drifted off around 2 AM. Now all I have to do is work with it before I lose it. It started simply: lose Estragon and pick up TAlie. The rest followed naturally.
I sit in the dark outside the video store with Brett smoking one of his cigarettes. He mentions he has not seen me for several weeks and wants to know what I have been doing. “Nothing,” I reply, surprised that I have gone three weeks and done nothing. I’m not sure what to make of it. I ponder. “You’re lucky,” he says, “I had to take my father to the hospital. He fell in Arizona and knocked off one of his kneecaps. Finished his vacation first though.” “Tough old nut,” I said. “Yeah,” said Brett, “He pulls his own teeth.”
I was walking:
The post office,
The Coney, and
The barking yellow lines
Chasing sleepy automobiles
Back past the supermarket
Where I stopped to pick up oranges.
Walking in the open
I feel people watching me,
Peeling back my life
Like the skin of an orange
Thick and pulpy
While the oil squirts
Through quiet neighborhoods and
shy away from the mains,
From the heavy-footed flop of man hole covers
Some people must recognize me.
Watching from their windows
Each seeing some different thing;
Some right-read man out
The Tip Jar