Walking with the Poet Ted Macker
in Santa Barbara, California
I'll walk now and then with my young poet friend.
We'll amble down State Street, wistfully passing
the Hotel California, deserted,
where once we saw a shoeless, shirtless,
handcuffed guy with four police
upon him, public loitering
Often in Ted Macker's poems
he's awed by girls, and when we walk
of course the girls show up, maybe
on State Street Pier, some of them
displaying midriffs, piercings, tattoos.
Often these girls will smile at Ted,
handsome in his early 30's.
God-knows what the girls make of me,
once-handsome as well.
Ted is like a pointer-dog --
he'll be blabbing on about Wendell Berry
when suddenly, whoa, he stops and POINTS:
a sighting. My God, yes, there she is,
astonishing: Magnificent She.
Then we move on.
If there were a museum of you, it would contain
a river, and not some lame meandering stream,
practicalities be damned.
And since we've gone this far
let's put an earthquake in there,
a 7.8 -- not to overwhelm the building --
and in the third room of the display
add the State of Wyoming, to carry an air
of solitude, vast grasslands, horses, cowboys.
Hey, let's include a living cowboy from Wyomingand his horse, of course: ole Buster.
A True Story
Here's a true story: I majored in Wymyn at the U. of P.,
Wymyn and poetry, (much the same thing, really).
My sophomore year, one of those fine ladies worked me over
till I felt depressed
(not that I called it "depression," not sure we used the word back then,
but what it came down to was I couldn't wake for sleeping).
You know the heaviness that weighs you to the bed?
Well, sometimes I could get up by, oh, four in the afternoon
By then classes would be gone.
My favorite Prof, Morse Peckham,
he claimed he'd seen me about twice that whole semester
but hey, his class on British Non-Fiction met at 3; at 3 I was heavy-sleeping.
Peckham gave me a B (for British) nonetheless,
that good man, he had a faith in me
I've yet to find for myself.
He wanted me to go from Penn to Princeton,
do the Ph.D.-thing and then proph-esss
as he so brilliantly did.
Me, I joined the army instead...only to return to school
once I'd won the Korean War.
And the Wymyn, who'd started out
as the subject of this discourse?
Well, most of them likely will forgive me...
for being me...in any case
my life has been a history of them,
and that should count for something
(this shows to date no signs of stopping)
but someday, like you,
I will lie weighted down upon a bed
far past any 4 in the afternoon.
A True Story, Part II, or
A Very True Story
A very true story has the theme: presence of pain
while all we want is bliss, or
snoozing through the American Dream
Ah, things -- it's said -- are as they are: insane.
We want & we want, and don't get and don't get. Stress.
"Desire-realm" -- Scottie, beam us up
from the suffering all around
and the suffering within. Few find the Wisdom Way,
that good old Non-Self path past hope and fear.
A big hand for the brother who wakes up today
in joy to be alive in the now and here.