Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Lost Poet

I don’t remember the last time I saw this guy, but he says it was at the SE 30th and Belmont house in Portland, OR.  I guess I sort of remember that, a conversation about moving onto San Francisco, Marin County anyway, and getting on with life.  I was young and did not give one eff you see kay about getting on with life.  I just wanted to get down with it.  This dude, Bill, was a good bit older and therefore locked out of my perspective by an invisible decade or so that stood between us.  The Great Magnet itself could only tell you what compelled him to spend that winter in that little mountain town.  Broken-hearted, or maybe just so, so pissed off about his busted  Florida marriage that a tiny redoubt of an apartment with a Meerschaum pipe and a wool army blanket above a snow-covered Main Street seemed like a good place to sort things out.

He was not the only one hunkered down in  a month-to-month spot in buildings called The Fairfield, or The Lovelace.  There was a retired Special Forces dude with an escape rope anchored to the radiator below his 4th floor window, and a few mountaineer hovels so piled with mouldering sweaty polypropylene that it made your eyes burn when you opened the doors.  These places had cheap red wine and smokes on top of mini-refrigerators, next to wrinkled copies of Freedom of the Hills Volume IV .  Next door to that might be the muffled sounds of flanger pedals rocking against a towel beneath a brass-knobbed door.

So Bill the poet, he got a dish-washing job and he just hung out.

We would sit up in his room and swap stuff we were writing, spinning out big ideas and listening to Neil Young and Dinosaur Jr records.  I was 25 and did not know shit from shinola if you plopped them in my hands so my writing was all bluster and plagiarized style.  Bill would write Free Verse poetry and I thought he was the next great undiscovered Delmore Schwartz.

So that was it man, no social media, and barely an internet to speak of, so by the time I left the West Coast, the country, and returned a few years later there was nothing to be found of old Bill but the blue essay comp books full of poems I managed to stash away in my hopeless chest.

And now he turns up, making keys at a hardware store in Central Florida, and talking like the writing never mattered, a childish thing to put aside while “making a living of making a living”  he says.   Well I say, what the eff ewe si que Delmore?




Notch up

I am speaking to the riders.  The mountain bikers of the greater Tallahassee area.

Line yourselves up, shoulder to shoulder, in order from the fastest to the least fastest. On my count of three I want you all to take one step to the left, one notch up in the ranks.  Congratulations.  We have all been promoted one step closer to the unregulated, but only official podium in this town– Bike Church.

With the loss of Dr. J Maner (not his real name) to Northwestern University we lose the amiable alpha-predator in our woods. Where is Northwestern University anyway? Pensacola? Do they even have trails?

While there will forever be constant speculation and debate about what defines the fastest rider in town, there can be no debate that this guy, with his chipmunk cheeks and goofy grin, has picked the legs off of many of our strongest and battle-tested every Sunday morning for what, 10 years?

If you don’t ride bike church then, no disrespect, but I’m not sure there is a comparable measuring stick in this town.  Despite his efforts to blunt his destiny with Fireball whiskey and warm cans of Miller High Life, he has only become faster since I first got blasted by him on the trail.

The last time I saw him in the woods, with another grinning cannibal, my buddy Taco and I followed them for a bit along an unmarked trail until the relentless pressure of the pace cooked me, crashed me, and left me staring up into the retreating clouds above the forest.  I am here to vouch for him.  You can not be abused by a nicer guy.

We are going to miss him, but maybe not on the bike.


Not my fault

I blame Louis C.K. I watched one episode of his show, (Season 4. Episode 2- Model) and it rattled me. As Louie, playing himself stood on the shore and watched a shimmering vision dance naked into the surf, I was struck with a thunderclap of existential self-awareness- a true peer over the edge and into the void where your horrors are realized. The bony hands of time clawing their way up to you. Such writing. Such art. It knocked the pen out of my hand and under the family credenza, where I have only now managed to retrieve it, what with this sciatica.

It is time to end the stalemate. I resign this match to Mr. C.K. and have no choice but to saw away at my own tinny reel and keep the dwindling crowd on the dance floor.

So my wife, my main squeeze, “Baby Girl” herself is on a mountain bike, and attacking the problem with her standard forthright earnestness and relentless pursuit of the facts. For a man who attributes all biking success to the magic of turpentine and the tensile strength of barbed wire, I am afraid actual science may have her dropping me in short order. Like all others though, she will have to come through me to do it.

What else? Finding a sweet friend who moved away in a crowded theater- that quick and unexpected hug an elation.

The heat? There is always the heat.

But we don’t come here to talk about the weather now do we?