…see the watery part of the world…

I was in grad school when my son, Ben, was born. We lived in student housing – an apartment so small that we had to move his little crib into the bathroom each night.
Since his mother had an actual job while I was busy becoming a serious poet (sic), I would often do the middle of the night feeding since I was awake writing serious poetry all night. I had just scored a remaindered copy of Moby Dick at the UNH bookstore and began to read it to him at night while I gave him a bottle.
That was 43 years ago today. Those nights were special. I remember them like it was last night. Quiet except for the little noises a baby makes and me essentially whispering Melville’s words…

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.

I’ve read about the white whale every year since that summer of 1977. So today I happily (madly!) cast off again!

moby dick.png

on the first anniversary of W.S. Merwin’s death

For The Anniversary of My Death
Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveler
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what

– W.S. Merwin,“For the Anniversary of My Death” from The Second Four Books of Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 1993)

for those who mourn

Perfection Wasted – John Updike

And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
which took a whole life to develop and market—
the quips, the witticisms, the slant
adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
their tears confused with their diamond earrings,
their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.
The jokes over the phone. The memories packed
in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
Who will do it again? That’s it: no one;
imitators and descendants aren’t the same.

Memory Gardens  – Allen Ginsberg, (on the death of Jack Kerouac, October 21, 1969)

Image result for kerouac and ginsberg

covered with yellow leaves

            in morning rain

-Quel Deluge

            he threw up his hands

                        & wrote the Universe dont exist

                                    & died to prove it.

Full Moon over Ozone Park

            Airport Bus rushing thru dusk to

                                    Manhattan,

Jack the Wizard in his

                        grave at Lowell

for the first nite—

That Jack thru whose eyes I

                        saw

            smog glory light

                        gold over Manhattan’s spires

            will never see these

                        chimneys smoking

anymore over statues of Mary

                        in the graveyard

Black misted canyons

                        rising over the bleak

                                    river

Bright doll-like ads

            for Esso Bread—

Replicas multiplying beards

            Farewell to the Cross—

Eternal fixity, the big headed

            wax painted Buddha doll

                        pale resting incoffined—

Empty-skulled New

                        York streets

Starveling phantoms

            filling city—

Wax dolls walking park

                        Ave,

Light gleam in eye glass

Voice echoing thru Microphones

Grand Central Sailor’s

            arrival 2 decades later…

                   feeling melancholy—

Nostalgia for Innocent World

            War II—

A million corpses running

       across 42nd street

Glass buildings rising higher

                        transparent

                           aluminium—

artificial trees, robot sofas,

                Ignorant cars—

One Way Street to Heaven.

                    *

Gray Subway Roar

A wrinkled brown faced fellow

                        with swollen hands

Leans to the blinking plate glass

            mirroring white poles, the heavy car

            sways on tracks uptown to Columbia—

Jack no more’ll step off at Penn Station

            anonymous erranded, eat sandwich

            & drink beer near New Yorker Hotel or walk,

under the shadow of Empire State.

Didn’t we stare at each other length of the car

            & read headlines in faces thru Newspaper Holes?

Sexual cocked & horny bodied young, look

            at beauteous Rimbaud & Sweet Jenny

                        riding to class from Columbus Circle.

“Here the kindly dopefiend lived.”

and the rednecked sheriff beat the longhaired

                                    boy on the ass.

—103d street Broadway, me & Hal abused for sidewalk

                                                begging twenty-five years ago.

Can I go back in time & lay my head on a teenage

                        belly upstairs on 110th Street?

or step off the iron car with Jack

            at blue-tiled Columbia sign?

at last the old brown station where I had

a holy vision’s been rebuilt, clean ceramic

over the scum & spit & come of quarter century.

                              *

Flying to Maine in a trail of black smoke

Kerouac’s obituary conserves Time’s

                                    Front Paragraphs—

Empire State in Heaven Sun Set Red,

                                    White mist in old October

                        over the billion trees of Bronx—

                                    There’s too much to see—

Jack saw sun set red over Hudson horizon

                        Two three decades back

thirtynine fourtynine fiftynine

                                    sixtynine

John Holmes pursed his lips,

                                    wept tears.

Smoke plumed up from Oceanside chimneys

                        plane roars toward Montauk

                                                stretched in red sunset—

Northport, in the trees, Jack drank

            rot gut & made haikus of birds

                        tweetling on his porch rail at dawn—

Fell down & saw Death’s golden lite

                        in Florida garden a decade ago.

Now taken utterly, soul upward,

                        & body down in wood coffin

                                    & concrete slab-box.

I threw a kissed handful of damp earth

                        down on the stone lid

                                    & sighed

                        looking in Creeley’s one eye,

Peter sweet holding a flower

            Gregory toothless bending his

                        knuckle to Cinema machine—

and that’s the end of the drabble tongued

                        Poet who sounded his Knock-up

                                    throughout the Northwest Passage.

Blue dusk over Saybrook, Holmes

                        sits down to dine Victorian—

Time has a ten-page spread on

               Homosexual Fairies!

Well, while I’m here I’ll

              do the work—

and what’s the Work?

          To ease the pain of the living.

Everything else, drunken

                      dumbshow.

October 22-29, 1969