Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Sep 04 email newsletter
Vol. 1, No. 4

Whether to idle the day away, brooding, or to do something "useful" . . . as if there’s much difference between those two choices . . .

Went to a party a week ago, leaned in the corner and watched people drink and talk and dance and make and listen to music. During the evening, just about everybody I wanted to talk with stopped by my corner at least once. Little girl -- 9 years old, and quiet -- came in with her family. She looked so much like I think a musician I know would have looked at that age that I immediately wanted to go hug the little girl. I didn’t of course. But I shared the notion with her, her parents and grandmother, with the party’s hosts, and probably with a couple of other people.

Time, memory, imagination, and desire weave in meaningful ways.

One of my favorite waitresses just returned from Europe with her boyfriend, where they performed in London and in Denmark. He uses old computers and printers to make music, and she adds vocal accompaniments. With no other customers in the restaurant for a while early on Saturday evening, we talked for at least 20 minutes and I looked her in the eyes and paid attention. (One of the things I’m finally learning is to appreciate (at least some) people for who they are, instead of who I want them to be.)

She talked a little about today, and a little about her childhood, and a lot about a life-changing experience at age 21 or so. After her first, recent trip to Europe, she’s at least mentally exploring other places to live: Chicago (which, for some reason, she mentioned), but also Vienna, Edinburgh, London, little Heidelberg, San Francisco, New Orleans, Santa Fe, maybe New York. Many other places. It was such a fine 20 minutes or so, closing some of the distance between two human beings. So fine that when some people came into to eat, I smiled and told them they would have to go eat somewhere else so I could keep talking with the waitress. They thought I was joking; I suppose saying the thought aloud was a sort of joke. Anyway, the waitress needed to make the money.

"My" "Eve" visited a couple of times last week. She remains fragile, but her eyes are clear, she’s got some color in her face, she looks her age again, and – mixed blessing – she’s gaining weight. I think she’s been free of illegal drugs for about a month now, and she’s not associating with the people she knew "on the street" a month ago. Shortly after a first met her, she told me that early this year if some man wanted to hit her, she would just let him. Last Saturday she went dancing and drinking with her new boyfriend. They argued in the car. She moved to get out. He grabbed her arm. She punched him in the nose, fighting back. He was contrite, and his nose hurt. I’ve spent time telling her how strong she is. I’ve spent time hugging her. She is, in an odd, twisted little way, an angel for me; I am, in an odd, twisted little way, an angel for her. We learn, or we don’t.

The new chapbook, "Stolen Lies," with some of my poems and part of Eve’s story, and the spoken-word CDR, "27 Pieces of Silver," with my readings of favorite pieces from several of the chapbooks, are available for $5 each.

Time . . . little girls about to discover the world . . . experiences . . . choices we make or don’t . . . Charles Simic’s declaration (elsewhere) that a poet is someone who can claim to have seen angels in the same breath as a claim that there is no god . . . friends who understand that kind of contradiction . . . little girls growing up for better and for worse . . . choices again, and these lyrics from Jon Dee Graham’s "World So Full" on his fine new CD, The Great Battle:

little star, hang on tight
to the roof of this night
don’t turn away, don’t turn away
from the world so full

I get so lost, I get so down
inside out, and turned around
that I turn away, I turn away
from the world so full

make me willing, make me strong
make me brave as the day is long
open my eyes and let me see,
not turn away, not turn away

I know it’s hard, I know it’s sweet,
complicated and incomplete,
but I am in love, I’m still in love
with the world so full

don’t turn away, don’t turn away
from the world so full