Archival

Everything grows into somethingThe folks at the Special Collections and Archives of the University of Rhode Island Library have agreed to take my journals and papers for safe-keeping. So, for the past few days I have been busy getting all that in order to say goodbye to. The library gave me boxes in which to stash it all—fifty years’ worth, maybe 10,000 pages in all. The oldest of these files have followed me from Harlem to Berkeley to New Jersey to San Francisco to Samoa to Rhode Island. The 26 years of Samoa papers still retain the fond moldy smell of the islands.

There are at least a thousand poems and hundreds of pieces of both finished and abandoned prose to sort through. Every time I moved I threw away more than I kept, but there is still too much. I sort it all through yet another, final filter, filling black garbage bags with the less than necessary. So much paper waste—I have not lived a forest friendly life. But I do get to revisit raising my son in the benign bush of Tutuila and re-fear cyclones I had forgotten.

I’ll share a few pieces here, all from decades ago.

Desire

I want a t-shirt
that says on its back
Use Other Side First.
 
I want a ticket
that no one will question,
a friend in high places.
 
I want a history
where no one is named
and facts have no dates
 
but eons have names
like Nancy and Jane
where nothing happens.
 
Please pass the eraser.
Between us we can
get somewhere fast.
 
I just feel it rising
out of the sidewalk
and into my soul
 
nothing that I ever
needed or wanted
as naked as I am
 
as useless as cops
as salty as sex
as open as a wound.
 
I want an old day
to stop by and visit
to sit by the window
 
and tell me about
what the king will say
to the queen when they
 
finally are left alone
and all her sorrows
have dissolved in tears.

 

Santa Pajama

Santa Pajama was a bedroom community just up the coast from Vaudville. We drove up the coast road. The ocean was so calm it looked asleep. Samantha slathered sunblock onto her arms and face and shoulders. It was May.

When we got there I couldn’t find the place. I kept rereading the directions she’d taken down over the phone and kept getting lost. Samantha pretended to sleep.

What I finally found was the wrong place on the boardwalk above the beach. But the people there knew who Buddy was and sent us to a bar on the Vista Verde where we could find him. He wasn’t there but Samantha knew the bartender — remembered him from a Shinto halfway house up in Nofloss — so we stayed and drank diet maitais.

I found Buddy’s phone number on the on the toilet partition in the men’s room. I left a message for him on the machine that answered at a Swedish phonesex service. When I went back to the bar Samantha was gone and there was a new bartender. Her purse was still on the floor beside her empty barstool.

I slept in the car, in the back seat. I’m short. In the morning a 13 year old girl wearing a pair of men’s peach jockey shorts as a halter top and a pair of Italian roller skates was asleep in the front seat. I married her. We’ve got three kids now. We don’t live there anymore.

 

abc

anyway
because
creation
demands
eternal
fasting
gorging
healing
in order
just to know
looping
meaningless
nevertheless
operationally
pertinent
questions re:
recording
some-
times
unrelated
verasimilitudes
without which
xyz

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