Oh I know the cemetery willow…

Oh I know the cemetery willow
Kind regards friend

**

As a young man
I collected watches

**

The pocket kind
With photos inside

**

Sweet upright strangers
Long dead

**

Willow shakes her hair

**

Willow shakes her hair
The radio comes on as if by magic

**

My step son fears spiders so I wonder what ancient village he comes from

**

Don’t be sentimental
But sing each morning

**

Great grandfather
His wife sobbing behind a tree

He was a wheelwright
He made coffins for children

Rain this morning
I walk among apple trees

I want to kneel down

Disability and the Samaritans….

Once when I was walking in Manhattan with my first guide dog (a big yellow Labrador named “Corky”) a stranger grabbed me while we were crossing Fifth Avenue. No one likes to be seized and blind people especially dislike it. I required no help but there it was—we got to the far side and the man apparently bowed and ran away. “He thought he was saving your life,” said a woman who happened to see the incident.

I’ve thought about this for years. On the one hand it was invasive and frightening. But I realize my silent sentinel was sincere even if he’d no idea about how to engage with blind people.

Sincerity might not be a wholesale excuse but one shouldn’t underestimate good deed doing.

Blind folks dislike unsolicited help—at least generally. If they have guide dogs they certainly don’t want you talking to the dog or petting it. But let’s take blindness out of the situation. Do you like strangers walking up to you and patting your dog without an invitation? Do you like being manhandled? Do you like unsought help from strangers? Of course you don’t.

Back to my earlier point. We shouldn’t underestimate good deed doing.

I’ve come to this because (as we all know) civic life has been eroding. The man or woman who wants to help but doesn’t understand what’s called “disability etiquette” is at least trying to walk in my shoes. Right now Americans in their partisan divides are not imagining the shoes of strangers.

If you’re not familiar with the term disability etiquette it simply means having some common sense when interacting with the disabled. Don’t walk up to a wheelchair user and say “what happened to you?” (I remember vividly a classical composer at a famous arts colony who asked me first thing: “How did you go blind?”) The question is always reductive and irrelevant. That composer didn’t ask me, “what art do you practice?” In his mind I was just my disability.
BTW: I’ve a friend who’s a renowned physician. He’s very tall. Strangers ask him straight off if he played basketball. He hates this.

Don’t do what a college administrator I know once did to a student with a disability. She leaned over the woman’s wheelchair and said loudly: “Oh we’re sooooo glad you’re here with us!”

Don’t yell at disabled people. We’ve had plenty of this in our lives.

When a disabled person says something is inaccessible don’t label them a malcontent.

I’m just like you except I can’t see. She’s just like you but she is a wheelchair user. Note: stop saying “confined” to a wheelchair, for the love of God!

Stop acting so damned superior because “today” you appear to be “normal.” Get over your fealty to a narrow way of living. I promise you it won’t end well.

Quit acting so put out because you have a disabled student in your classroom.

Talk to me and not the apparently non-disabled person next to me.

Please keep your hands off me.

Oh, and for the love of God, stop referring to us as sufferers.

And for good measure: quit trying to take our limited health care away.

Memoir on a Thumbnail

Upriver

It was Herakleitos put string in my wrist
(What a trickster)
Bozo the clown
Sent me a love note
In 1963

**

In the Woods 1960

For the merchant god
Knew me
As I bartered soul
For shy, unexpected
Living things
To come my way

**

Accidie

The old men and women of the universities grow tendrils and the students don’t see

**

Naval History

Dead men in a rowboat
Take away the corpses
Dead men in a rowboat

**

Monument

Patroclus I think was eulegized
In bronze
Because his dignity didn’t survive
To the age of gold

**

Local News

“To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable!”

—Beethoven

Meanwhile, in Syracuse, NY, pianos are being offered free of charge to anyone who will haul them away

Inventions for our political moment…

Inventions for our political moment:

  1. “The Trump Pump”–just like dynamite in the out house it blows shit everywhere. Lots of noise. Gentle folk become confused. There’s a toilet seat up in a tree.
  2. The “Spox Box”–picture a tiny rectangular lava lamp with Rachel Maddow or that tight whitey from Fox inside. Bubbles going up and down.
  3. “Live Free or Die, Right Now”–a New Hampshire inspired crowdsourcing game. You show up waving two boiled lobster claws, wearing no mask, with an automatic rifle strapped to your back. You get COVID and die in a substandard hospital in Portsmouth.
  4. The Hangdog White Apology mask for old liberals: sounds eerily like post-war Nazis–“I swear we didn’t know what was really going on.”
  5. The “Bezos Box”–straight from Amazon to your door. Looks like a coffee table but you can use it as a casket.

Autumn Mirror

After summer came and went and some were ill
And some were in love—many traveled—
The world was unsafe or generous
I wept as men do
Choking in my white room
As the spread out
Abstract gas of war
Suffused every inch of me
So that my obedient hands
Become war hands
My neck a battle neck
My tongue dipped
To atrocities
Like a bee ignorant
Of its flower
Unable to distinguish
Where it’s been or what lies ahead
Do you see, it said, my tongue
How the body, even in repose,
Even with this poetry
Is just a war lord’s gavel?

Blind Treatise on Being Seen

A trick, ostrich-fever, you don’t exist
You who stare, public transport
Passersby, if you live at all
You’re inches above the pavement.
You plow without recompense
The fields of your physiques—
Desperate like crows
Where the animal has fallen,
Worshipping where
The animal has fallen.
So you live in a yellow time
Of hunger and you don’t exist.
I walk among you
Without analogy
Though where the animal falls
You think you see me
I loosen every bond.

Ghost Cat and Rimbaud

This morning I run backwards without history, free in the utopian wind that Rimbaud yearned for but never found. You have to know: sometimes words are secondary.

**

I call the ghost cat. He takes his time crossing the floor of memory. The ghost dog never left.

Note to self: never write “of course.’

**

Rimbaud: just another guy who got lost in his noggin.

**

Oh I love Rimbaud just as I love the ghost cat.

**

Question: why is the ghost cat “not” history?

Question: what do you feed a feline spirit? What prayer should we say over milk?

Mushroom Soup

It comes down to mushrooms, it always does. A good soup. The steaming earth spoon by spoon. Give me the primitive dish.
And when I call to the gods may they smell them on my breath.

**

I’ll give you nothing if you’ll reciprocate. I carry zeros in a tiny velvet purse.

**

Before my mother became a full bore drunk she read Dracula out loud to me. Blind kid with photo-monster mommy.

**

Dracula, earth, mushrooms, scary mother, zeros in a little sack.

**

I do love the way Yeats believed in things.

**

My first footprints in snow of the winter. This has been a clumsy year.

**

I actually belong to the G. K. Chesterton society.

**

I recommend the Cremini mushroom.

Arvo Part on the Radio

Arvo Part on the Radio

You get one chance
But listening
You know it isn’t true
For the Gods come
Like winter smoke

So many ways
To enter the houses
Of the grass

Yes I want too much

For a brief hour
We play with silence
Throw our voices

Of chances
The gods have no use
Night coming down

I knew this much: outside Tallinn
Where the trolley left me
Where I was lost one cold day

I could still raise a hand
So beautiful hitchhiking blind
In a place not mine

Take me back to the fairy tale castle
I told the driver who stopped

Winter Baltic
Wonderful to be alive
How to say it…

Natural Facts

Now it’s up to the winter trees to carry us. They stand sentinel. “Empty your pockets,” says the alder. In summer he was a foolish thing–a dunce–but now, shaking his last strained leaves he’s a genius.

Meanwhile post cards and letters to be gone through…

Christ I need a cup of tea.

A small spider walks across the Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens.

Arvo Part playing on the radio.