As Jimmy Hoffa Dies

Image

–July 30, 1975

2:00 pm. Hoffa sits in the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox Italian Restaurant in Detroit and waits for his contact. The day is hot. Hoffa keeps the windows of his Pontiac open. He likes air conditioning but he isn’t going to pay for the gas. Though he’s been trying to quit he smokes a Pall Mall. He’s fucked: a man at the mercy of Gerald Ford and the Mafia and a hundred little fuckers every one of them dangerous. He smokes.

2:00 pm. Kuusisto sits on a roof in Geneva, New York listening to Billie Holiday. He’s 20 and blind and tiny crazed. He’s recently been in a mental hospital but now he’s alone and loves the line: “God bless the child that’s got his own”. He feels he understands it. He lights a joint wrapped in yellow wheat paper.

2:05 pm. Hoffa is agitated. No sign of anyone. He goes into the restaurant and gets some change from a waiter and phones a lieutenant. He blows off steam.

2:05 pm. Kuusisto is thinking about Holiday’s vocal energy vs. Leadbelly’s. On the Alan Lomax recordings he hears all the particles of Mr. Ledbetter’s body shouting together. Holiday still has this pain but she’s also found joy in emptiness.

2:08 pm. Hoffa is only aware of the apparent insult, not of the coming threat.

2:08 pm. Kuusisto turns the record over.

I’m alone…

I’m alone like a cabdriver who sleeps in his taxi dreaming of childhood. Red geraniums. Black currants. Sleep is a still life.

Last night I dreamt of my father, now long gone. He appeared beside a tall window at dusk, snow falling, and he was abosrbed, reading a book. I said, in the murmurous way of all sleepers, “that’s just as it was in life…”

Today the sun is strong. We’re allotted approximately 3 billion heartbeats in this life.

Disability and the Ableist’s Wall

With the recent passing of a close friend whose disability was central to his daily life, I seem to be leaning against walls. Let me clarify: they’re not visible walls. No, these are the walls of social containment. Let me further clarify: if you want to put someone “up against a wall” you must take for granted that the wall is either neutral or on your side. The obliging wall is a central truth when it comes to ableism.

You require medical care. You’re a wheelchair user. You’re shoved against the ableist’s obliging wall even though you’ve insurance. They push you against that wall and then you slip slowly out of your chair and onto the floor.

There are plenty of visible walls—the college auditorum with steps leading to the speaker’s platform. No disabled person would ever be a professor. There are conferences about disability where no effort is made to provide accommodations. My friend saw these things, endured them.

How they roll their eyes whe you point out their attitudinal walls. How they carry on about inconvenience and expense, as though designing things for human beings is a vast burden. (Making things accessible is often cheaper than making them inaccessible but the ableists are addi ted to their walls.)

Sometimes I think of ableism as being like an addiction to cigaettes. They know its bad for them but its such a daily ritual.

 

Finland, 1959

Water, sidelong, edge of sight,
Part of the magic, being blind,
Glimpses of the lake,
Fractions of grace.

There, between birches
The impossible blue
Of where we’re going.
Good God, what a childhood that was.