Sunday, July 23, 2017

9768. RUDIMENTS, pt. 22

Making Cars
I always feel that I'm not done yet, or,
when and if, for a millisecond, I think
I'm done, something else comes flooding
in and I'm set right off onto another mission
or piece or quest. About something. I learned
to live with that a long time ago  -  being
sure to carry some sort of small notebook,
with a pen. Anything to make sure that
little escapes. There have been times with
large escapes. Material lost is not found
again. It's difficult.
If the greater mind is always at work,
creating our means of existence, as I
believe it is, we are always at a dynamic
moment, never a static one. All things
are subject to change at any time, which
I suppose is why weird things happen -
husbands leaving wives, running off with
someone else, jumping off a cliff or a
bridge to their death, taking flying lessons
to become a pilot, small craft local flight,
or just deciding, of a sudden, to live some
other way. Having a hand on the tiller, so
to speak, sometimes just forces a new
steering. I tried to stay aware of such
things, even though mostly I seemed
powerless to effect anything anyway. A
lot of my life has been (was?) spent
seeming to not have control over my
own affairs. I know how odd that may
sound, but for me it was all a combination
of parentage, home owning, place-living,
job, work, routine, owning and doing all
the stupid things such a normal life brings
forth. I was never happy over any of it, but
just did it. In a format almost of a poorly
relegated remote-control in regards to self.
Lost on a vast ocean, in a sea of spray.
I used to like telling people who'd mention
that I wrote , and especially that I wrote 'poetry,'
that I actually wrote 'Povetry.' Of course they
never understood it, but I meant to be combining
both Poetry, yes, and Poverty, yes. You see how
difficult then it is to get something across where
there is no clarity. Back at the Barron Arts Center,
in Woodbridge, those few seasons when I ran it,
along with two friends  -  the Weds. night Poetry
nights and a few extra events we did  -  I'd be
rattling off this earth-shaking stuff to the
audience  -  mostly angst-ridden youths or
older, worn-out senior-citizens who lurked
at the Mall and other such places and for whom
this was a big, avant-garde night out  -  and they'd
be awed, somehow, by the power of words. I
had this way of cutting through flesh and bone,
using Rilke as a touchstone, his lines from
'On the Archaic Torso of Apollo' : "We cannot
know his legendary head with eyes like
ripening fruit. And yet his torso is still
suffused with brilliance from inside, like
a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to
low, gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so,
nor could a smile run through the placid
hips and thighs to that dark center where
procreation flared. Otherwise this stone
would seem defaced beneath the translucent
cascade of the shoulders and would not
glisten like a wild beast’s fur: would not,
from all the borders of itself, burst like a
star: for here there is no place that does not
see you. You must change your life." At the
end, by the time I always reached 'you must
change your life,' I had them for sure. in a
shock-venture of facing their own default.
The rest of the things I, and the others, read
where our own, but by that point we had
the room unfailingly so enamored of us as
super-beings that we could have cursed and
coughed, and still gotten massive applause.
I think we had people leaving from those
nights who probably walked out on their
own lives a day or two later. The damndest
thing was, I never walked out on mine.
It was all fantasy, of a sort - they thought I
was a wild-man of some renown, a NY poet
coming in to box their feeble little suburban
ears. There were old senior guys there whose
biggest input, I swear, was writing poems
about the young girls they'd see jogging by
them. One went : 'Jogger girl, jogging in
sweater....' No kidding. It was lustful old-man
juggernaut stuff, bouncing breasts and tight
derriers in cheek-hugging cloth. What in
the world is one supposed to say or do
about that, except ridicule it. Another guy,
a New Yorker actually, who'd take the train
in just for these reading nights, wrote a
Rastafarian poem (of some sort, this was
like 1982), that went - 'Rasta man, Rasta,
keep 'way from da' Jamaican master.' It
was probably 'masta' instead of 'master'
but, whatever. The island of Jamaica was
having some real political turmoil at that
time, with a Prime Minister or President
named Michael Manley who'd suddenly
declared himself Communist, and re-allied
with the Soviets, or Cuba, and began really
bouncing heads on his own people. There
were some Jamaicans at that time I knew
on Catalpa Street, in Perth Amboy, about
12 of them, with some infants, who were
living in fear - afraid of Immigration or
being found out. I used to give the one
guy, Berrisford Morris (just called 'Morris')
rides around when he needed them. One
time I showed up unannounced knocking
on his front door, of the big rooming house.
He admonished me later, in a terror, 'Oh
mon, don' ever do dat again. I had people
jumping out the back windows t'get away,
thinking you was Immigration. Call first.'
I met Morris again, by chance, years later.
When I was at Barnes & Noble, he came in
once working for Ingram Book Company,
driving one of the delivery trucks - a few
cartons of books. He was as astounded as
I was by the meeting - we went over a
hundred things, the old days, and the rest.
He said all was fine. He was very involved,
he said, in a Sunday Cricket League, which
was more like a classic British picnic day,
all afternoon, while the various league teams,
in their cricket whites, played their scheduled
games. Families and kin everywhere about,
gleefully picnic-ing. He invited me in for
one - Warinaco Park, up by Elizabeth, NJ.
I went; it was great stuff.

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