Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Monday July 19, 2004
Block Island, RI
I’ve been here for about 20 hours now and am headed back to the city in an hour or so.  This has been interestingly strange.  To get here I had to take Amtrak to Westerly, RI; then a six-seater plane for 12 minutes to the island.  I basically rode an SUV with wings. 
I performed here last evening at a music/poetry festival on the grounds of this inn called The Hygeia here on Block Island, run by Lisa Starr.  It was kinda cool – had a good time performing.  I think this is what is commonly defined as ‘bucolic’.  At night, fog rolls in off the sea, you can see the lighthouse in the distance and here the fog horns going all night.  If something happens to you here (broken limb, asthma attack, migraine), you get transported by med-evac to what they call ‘the mainland’.  When you’re somewhere that calls somewhere else ‘the mainland’, you’re too far officially.  The winter population here is 900 and swells to about 20, 000 in the summer; know why?  It’s freakin’ Rhode Island!!  It gets freakin’ cold!!  There should be no-one living on an island north of the tropic of Capricorn!!  There should be no-one living on an island that gets two feet of snow and that has to fly you to a hospital if you need one.  That’s just not right!!
That said, I had a great time, heard some good poets and drank 12-year old scotch from the bottle with the folk song Irish-ish sort of band that closed the evening.  From what I could tell, I am the darkest thing here as far as the eye can see; and that’s disconcerting sometimes.  I feel like as time goes by I should become accustomed more and more to being in these situations; but it’s actually happening differently.  The more that is the case, the more I become alarmed by the fact that in particular kinds of settings there are only particular kinds of people.  It simply underscores so much of the imbalance that I feel my life and my work have to address; but then it gets crazy and I wonder why I’m there all of a sudden (and I know why I’m there), but it feels almost like claustrophobia, like hyperventilation for a second; so I get up I get another beer, and I deal…
…so anyway I got a poem done last night and that’s a good thing.  I went back to some notes that were in my notebook from an exercise I had done and came up with this.  Seems like I’m going back to the well of ‘home’ a lot these days.  That’s comforting.  I know part of it is my having found out all this stuff about my family, but part of it I know  is that I’m finding myself at this crossroads of needing to figure out what next to do, in all things, and it is comforting to know that I can go back home; at least figuratively to work through much of this.  So I read it to LeslieAnn and Salome and Lynne and Marty last night and ended up with a bunch of edits from Marty, which included bringing back a part of another poem I’ve been working (unsuccessfully) on and so, this is the result so far…
To laugh at weaker boys (or at least the less sharp-tongued)
  to kick ball till the moon rose
  or something vital bled – we lived
To wait like predator
  for the first note of a slow jam
  to grind ourselves into the wall
 with a pretty girl between us
 and make sure our boys were watching
We were tropical  suave  post-colonial  oil money niggahs
and we had to do well – in all things
  in school work
  in song
  in talking shit
  and especially in football
but it was only cool
if you made it seem effortless
we were sophisticates like that
looking for immortality in the tales of others
and most of our friends were still alive
To buy two sno-cone from George
   whose rickety cart parked outside
   the school each day
To have the cones stacked with extra syrup and condensed milk
To gather around the cart
  because George always had sensible shit to say
To follow that with the hottest  spiciest
  doubles from the doubles-man behind the cafeteria
  who built two multi-level homes
  off the profits from our purchases
To laugh at that irony
To pick on the faggot boys because we were still assholes
  and we knew that
To join the new dance-craze revolution
To stop traffic on Frederick Street
  just to see Doc, Scientist and Froggie
  spin on vinyl, pop-lock, head-stand
   electric-boogie, dead-man
To sit  on the steps
  of the downtown shopping plaza
  and stare at the beauty of our women
 To believe at sixteen
  that they were our women
To welcome satellite TV and music videos
  like it was God
  because who can see the future anyway
  It was 1984
and we were busy looking good
mimicking everything we saw
Gip would collect the ball on the outside
of his left foot  count the on-rushing defender’s footsteps
and slide the ball deftly through his legs
while looking the other way – effortless like that
Our bodies hadn’t begun to betray us yet
Kirk and Gregory and Rudy and Peter were still alive
Dave still had his legs
and the worst thing wasn’t  not doing well
only seeming   like you were trying too hard
Going to pack my bags.  Time to vote myself off this island.


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