Saturday, January 03, 2009

1998, AGAIN


There is an old English saying:
drink champagne and
you will lose everything that
you own. This is

true: it happened to
me. I drank champagne

when I came home,
everything was gone.

emptiness was,
an interesting thing

for emptiness can
be filled with fire.
champagne, like
emptiness, is
fire, or on fire,
or, of fire. Once
you go home,
your champagne
becomes the fire:

“here is your home;
you empty, empty,

a ladybird said to me
upon my drunken return

“I, too, am alone,”
it said, “no we
are not!” I

for fear of this

dying ––

“Let us creep
away to a new


we said” like
an ember, dying ––

and did

and in doing so,
we did not.



After a long day at the office
I read the obituaries and a story
or two from the NEW YORKER

and say, “It is flawed.” and “Oh!
I recognize him!” perusing the
fifth column, “and now he is dead.”

“Too late to invite him over for rasp
berry and biscuits,” think I / (“and
apply dapply / is so fond of pies”)

and too late to ask him his opinion
on this story (it is so flawed!) I suppose
I will write him a letter and apologize.

Here I am, next to the cupboard.
I am standing like a little soldier.
the mice love my cupboard.

What did I think of this man, now dead?
there are cakes and cheese and jam
biscuits in my cupboard, and bread.

Of course the mice love it. but what do
they think of me? what do we think of us and my house? and
my letter writes itself, like a scampering mouse like a scampering mouse.



When I can’t write, I think that I might learn how to paint. but then I am afraid that, when I can’t write, that I will discover that, also, I can’t paint. At times like this, I enjoy sitting down at the piano and playing TEA FOR TWO. you can always play that. Sometimes I will put a little drawing on the piano and draw little squiggly lines in purple and black. The purple represents royalty; the black, French film. I do this between verses of TEA FOR TWO. By the time I have come up with a few slightly nervous looking lines, I have, subconsciously, also come up with a few lines of melodic improvisation. Mina Loy did that: she called it style nouelle ... noodle style. Or perhaps I have made a decision regarding style: the next verse will be transposed into a minor key. People loves songs played in minor keys in bars; I don’t know why. Which

brings me back to writing: perhaps I will write about people in bars. Fielding Dawson did that. I don’t do that. I try to clear my head and put on my hat and take out my pen and draw a few lines and try to think of the proper words and yet all I can think of is “me for you and you for me” -- I know that these aren’t the best words to think of; it’s such a lonely world. Where have we gone? But I write them down anyway. In my opinion, Mel Tormé sings HOW HIGH THE MOON far too slow. Between every verse, once again, it’s me for you and you for me. Each and every time, in between each squiggly line, atop the beautiful black piano, covered in flames.



What a nice date we had. I ate a crab cake and she drank a Pernod. We shopped for music, and I bought a collection of songs about the moon by Perry Como and an album of Art Tatum or what have you, too. We both drank champagne and we both looked a baby pictures. she used the word “romance” and I kissed her on the cheek. I never saw her again and so it was a dream. I am certain. Just like the night before when I was swimming and breathing in black water twenty feet below the pool’s surface, and the night before that when a man took out his comb and combed his hair each time that he was about to say “you are wrong” and then explain exactly how, and why.



I looked in through the window and saw a young woman wearing a top hat.

“Pardon me, is that your top hat?”

She began to look uneasy and stood up slowly and then walked quickly out of the room.

In her place was a man who was sitting on a stool and his foot was moving up and down on a ... hi hat!

“Excuse me,” I said, “is that your hi-hat?”

The man stood silently for a moment and blinked his eyes nervously. Standing up, he grasped the hi-hat underneath his arm and left through the door that the woman who had already left had passed through.

Gene Krupa played the hi-hat beautifully. He played it probably as well as anyone on earth who has been born so far. You would probably cry if you heard him play the hi-hat, if you weren’t already crying at the time.

I said all of these things to a baby who was underneath a stool in the room with a hat, playing with a stuffed lion with two black round eyes which were in perfect condition and which it appeared he was playing with very carefully. “Tell me, are you Gene Krupa?” I asked him and

he stayed precisely in the same spot and laughed every time I laughed at his lion which was so fearless looking and handsome and majestic and it was very apparent that he was content and that everything was working out beautifully.

Clearly he WAS Gene Krupa, without a hi-hat, not wearing a top hat, keeping time, happy at last.


1 comment:

Molly Gaudry said...

Love these. All.

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