Coffee at sunrise
Like seasons in grandparents
Lost pleasures walking
30 August 2010
LETTER TO THE SAILORS ON BOARD ESPÉRANCE 1
—for Vonnie, Craig, Jan, Roger & Karen
Everyone in these waters can't be named, but six of us find ourselves wrapped in sail light. Wheel, wind, ballast. Dream of being overturned. The hidden rudder. Water and all that's beneath the water path. Craig, I've been with your father all afternoon, looking at his stamps. The careful way his hands held the scissors, his crisp cuts creating smaller rectangles, framing. The process he used at the P.I. to develop his inner life. The newspaper we all loved to grow up with—how he sent out mail to the world to be returned to him with postmarked stamps for you and your sister. Country by country. Filed in the wooden box. Stamps I know he loved because of the multiples. I've put some aside. I don't know how to thank you except to say I love your Dad. This letter's an exercise in musical fusion, Roger, a hybrid. Sometimes it makes a sound like a flute over keyboard. Sometimes I'm making noise. Ecstatic? No white space in this note, Janice. No short paragraph to give the eye a rest, as Secord taught. So good to hear intimate fragments of that life after 40 years, from that time of never was. The teacher with your father. San Francisco Chronicle as cigarette paper wrapping his love into nicotine bringing the cancer. You teaching Mr. Case, who taught me The Chambered Nautilus and The Tyger. Was I 14? Boat people. Wood boats. Roger and Craig teaching together. Finding each other on water. My sister in Alabama with my brother in 1963. All I knew about King coming from you and Secord in that journalism office. You transcended as Vonnie says. One recent riff on my life. I never went to high school. I float this with my friend Barry, a poet who found a way through high school with baseball and journalism. I never had baseball. Went to work. Right now percussion sounds make hands clapping on water. Maybe 12 hands. I can't tell. Someone throws a baton in the air. My mother sends pictures to me in Vietnam. It's Vonnie at the head of the band. My brother at second base. I'm writing letters to Karen about writers promising not to be like them. Promising a decent wage. And here we are crossing water. This letter comes from the Gobi Room in desert ambience. The computer screen an ocean itself, just made me dizzy by the way I touched its glass. Seasickness? Can we get out and walk? Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water. That's how Leonard Cohen sings it. When Ray Carver started making money on stories he bought a boat and put everybody in it. At least in the poem. This boat is a gift from Tyler. Some stories are so true they want to be sung at every border crossing. This is one. Karen made this journey as a child. She was one year old when she set out. I've been following her since she first told it to me. Karen. Mother Quilt. Bead-weaver threading us. Now I'm my mother's biographer, too, but I was never her caretaker, like Vonnie. Like Craig. Sailor stories. Craig piloting. I love the pilot in the father, preparing to cross, rubbing his hands on his legs, exclaiming, "Isn't this a lovely suit!" Courage and readiness. Here it remains a poem from the listening. Deserving original music. And now this beautiful boat, this French hope cutting through water. Wind, 15 knots, sails full, hybrid winds.
28 August 2010
Only the boat comes with the bill of sale.
One of the problems with hope
is that we don't know what it looks like
when we see it. Experience tells us
not to trust our eyes, so we have to go
against all we know. It feels like
more than betrayal of those around us
when we step on to it. More than that,
betrayal of our world, and then of ourselves.
So OK, hope against hope.
The toll that hope takes. In Spanish
the word for wait is hope. Esperete, m’ijo.
Esperanza, the name for hope.
Esperanza on Mango Street
dreaming for a house. Cisneros' hope up Holler Creek.
No more than an echo.
Helplessly hoping in the rock song.
Peggy's good riff.
And now Vonnie's boat sailing.
Named by the man who went overboard.
Who had to swim for it.
Whose boat of hope, Espérance 1, took off on its own.
French hope French-kissed.
The man wasn't done with his life and had to swim for it.
He's forced to swim away from hope.
His boat took off, he swam the other way.
His hopeboat stops outside his house and drops anchor.
You have to sail out from your own safe harbor to get that story.
A dog out running with the wind, ears pinned back.
Tom with his famous finger in the wound.
Word as west marginal way. Wind margin.
Win by the margin of our hope.
With root beer and ice cream. A hope float.
Lots of practice, lots of practice.
Jesse campaigned with it years ago. The narrow margin.
Running from it, swimming for it.
Dry land farming is so over-rated.
Funny stuff, you bet.
The gift boat. Son child. Skiff of grace.
Step here. That's right.
Put your foot just like that right on the water.
28 August 2010
Mothership heads north
Desert sailors from Espérance's bow
My sister's cosmic orbit
Salt water passages.
27 August 2010
THE OLDER YOU GET
THE CLOSER YOU ARE TO THE CIVIL WAR
Jesus, just around the corner from us,
sits in a corner booth
at the Salmon Bay Café
listening to men plan their day.
Stewart Marine, Seattle Pump, Ballard Hardware.
Karen dips her toast into egg yolk.
Sadie waits in the mothership.
The men listen to the boss
talk about his lost keys
but he buys their breakfast.
This is how we enter the day.
Nobody in this place
wants to run anybody up the pole.
27 August 2010
HUSH NOW, HUSH
Adjourned for three months
Adversaries and justice
24 August 2010