Wellfleet, 9:30 AM 7/13/79, from the deck:
Earlier over the first cup of coffee
browsing the The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry
my eye took in Paul's dates as page 1142 flipped by:
November 24, 1926
September 13, 1971.
He died 2 months and 11 days
short of his 45th birthday
having made much poetry
and his share of mistakes.
will or what plan
(if any) did it end for him
at that time and in that way?
And goes on for me
2 months and 11 days
from my 45th birthday.
each one alone
and all together—
seem to make a pattern
along whose edge we run
putting in our bits and pieces
until, overtaken, we become
permanent parts of it—
knitted up into the design
those left along its edge keep glimpsing.
Clotho Lachesis Atropos
So this Friday the 13th
I write, make plans
and think about the past.
By the force of what I
will call some kind of grace
when I close my eyes tonight
I'll still see
the fields of seaweed at Wednesday morning's low tide
and the luminous greens of the freshly watered garden.
New York, 12:30 AM 10/25/79, from the desk:
Wanting to write a poem for Charles Bukowski
I put a frozen pizza in the oven
start on another sixpack
and wait for inspiration
by staring at the roaches
walking in and out of the pile of laundry on the floor
when the downstairs bell rings
but, expecting nobody, I don't buzz back
probably some asshole forgot their key
—there are assholes everywhere you know
by now the apartment bell rings
and I go see which of my women
it could be and open the door on
a skinny young guy about twenty
who says, "Mr. Bukonomou? I have reason
to believe I am your son." To which I,
"Or maybe just one of those assholes
this world is full of, sonny."
But I ask him in out of the hall
as he starts to explain the detective work
that led him to me as "genetic father"
and I tell him he's too runty
to be a son of mine because my seed
is a stout-hearted seed whether it grows
up to be boys or poems—and Christ
I've seen Tom Clark poems
that are more substantial than he is!
Since he looks like he could use it
I ask him to share the pizza
and have a beer with me and talk
on condition he'll stop this
"you're my daddy" crap—Hell
I've never been anywhere near
Council Bluffs, which is where he says
it all began for him according to his
"real mama" whom he tracked down
in Kansas City two weeks ago
recent polaroid of whom he shows
to which I will only say, "Yeah,
real natural looking mama!"
Then with a squint-smile like a midwife
I open the door—
and deftly yank out the rising, bubbling sun.
Wellfleet, 9:30 AM 7/14/81, from the deck:
Almost a year has passed
since I last made a voluntary
and now I ask myself in one to account for it.
In that close-to-a-year,
I have gone on strike
for 38 days, which cramped
my work and life style
and caused me to worry about money
for the next 7 months
even though we won.
Each of my parents underwent
successful surgery and I have seen them,
I have written book reviews,
finished my Philodemos translations,
written and delivered a paper on Dante,
had interviews for 3 jobs, which crowded
my psyche and fantasy life
and caused me to worry again
about more or less money
and the reasons why I didn't get the jobs,
though I believe in losing them I won.
On the other hand, I had no affairs,
which consume time and money like mad.
So why should my poetic output for this period
amount to one: AMERIKI Book Two Part IV?
I can quote Edward Hopper's
"One good picture is worth a thousand
inferior ones," for a winning explanation.
Or I can say, "I don't know,"
as if it meant I don't take the loss seriously.
Truth is, I cannot explain the hiatus, nor will I
make or grant excuse. I'll volunteer
that though I cannot account for the phenomenon otherwise,
yet possibly it moght be otherwise accounted for,
and forget it now that I've resumed.
Wellfleet, 10:15 AM 7/23/81, from the deck but at the earlier behest of Kenneth Bernard:
One Soma Golden wrote last winter in the Times,
The famous Hippocratic oath that new physicians still take,
includes a refusal to give women instruments for abortions.
But Hippocrates advised women to end unwanted pregnancies
without instruments, by leaping seven times into the air.
Could he have been serious?
Could he have known of a case or two
in which he believed this had actually occurred?
My first recollection of abortion (without the word)
goes back to my childhood
when I overheard a whispered phrase (in Greek),
"She took a bath,"
and it occurred to me that that bath
had something to do with babies,
thought somewhat later did I connect
the baby with the bathwater.
Did a young woman of Cos who had miscarried
come to Hippocrates to say everything had been fine
until she went down to the sea one recent day,
and after her swim could not resist
her old habit of dancing naked in the sunlight,
leaping into the air 5, 6, 7 times,
and the doctor did connect her loss with those saltations,
finding advice, thereby, for unwanting mothers?
Was that self-prescribed bath forty years ago
simply part of the Hippocratic legacy,
if the doctor will not do it, it isn't wrong to try yourself?
Or, to bring the question to its latest terms,
to argue, as does Soma, that politicians
leave it to women to decide for their own bodies?
I was suddenly reminded of Soma Golden
by a party of mother/daughter nudies
at Bound Brook Island yesterday.
When one of the women got up to swim,
I could see none of the customary lines
that contrast buttocks and breasts with the rest.
She emerged from the water about 100 yards away,
leaped 1, 2, 3, 4 times into the air,
then cracked her hair like a whip in the sun.
Wellfleet, 10:30 AM 7/30/81, from the deck but also at the earlier behest of Kenneth Bernard,
who had sent on a card, The dream is an involuntary act of poetry—Jean Paul Richter:
So it is and provides a source as well
for those voluntary acts we call poems
because we try to make their elements at every level rhyme.
The dream, too, may rhyme in its sights and sounds or structure
for its dreamer—but only for a listener and differently
after it's been pumped into the other act of poetry,
even at the level of the simplest telling:
I saw a tall, solitary figure of a man
walking down a darkened New York street.
Because he was dressed all in black, I couldn't see his face
without rushing up to him and as I did
I recognized Abraham Lincoln and exclaimed,
"Mr. President, you mustn't walk these streets alone at night!"
Between this as involuntary act of poetry
and its articulation as example here,
lie varieties of resonance and correspondence
whose flow I cannot nor would control.
I would merely draw from it the dream direct
or in other forms for the lines that give my poem
its life and power to relieve and relive.
When we dream, we stand within rather than apart
from the poetic act, capable of an enstatic experience,
which—like ancient acts of poetry—
may be translated but never duplicated;
but when we pipe and fix our voluntary rhymes,
we have the chance for an ecstatic one,
to know that though of us they have their independence,
to have the chance to offer them like drinks of water from our house.