I'll sit in bed opening and closing my Opinel No. 8 and stare at an unread compilation of a then-alive poet's correspondence with a then-and-still-dead poet and wonder at the cover art, a fishing-line-thin threaded rope that could well be tied in a slipknot. Tendrils that look like loose straw scattered thirty different ways.
He said You can't **** your life away and there are many ways to do that. I'm stuck inside a small bedroom dreaming or hallucinating an open space, streams flowing from nowhere near and flat space so full of sky it is sin to call it empty. The world can be hot and fast; I am bad at resting. I don't sleep well. I can float a river and not once hear it moving.
You drank and dissected your drinking so it could masquerade as something under your control. We all are guilty of this at some point. In some way or another. I am lucky to sit in my bedroom and write that the next two years of my life have well been mapped. I do not pout, there is no malice here. My head is close, fastened between my small shoulders. I share no heart with Yesenin.
You can't **** your life away he said he thought. These things change. *But you can!
This letter makes frequent references to Jim Harrison's poetry collection Letters to Yesenin, originally published in 1973.
It wasn't until the sixth century that the Christians decided animals weren't part of the kingdom of heaven. Hoof, wing and paw can't put money in the collection plate. These lunatic ****-brained fools excluded our beloved creatures. Theologians and accountants, the same thing really, join evangelists on television, shadowy as viruses.
At dawn I heard among bird calls the billions of marching feet in the churn and squeak of gravel, even tiny feet still wet from the mother's amniotic fluid, and very old halting feet, the feet of the very light and very heavy, all marching but not together, criss-crossing at every angle with sincere attempts not to touch, not to bump into each other, walking in the doors of houses and out the back door forty years later, finally knowing that time collapses on a single plateau where they were all their lives, knowing that time stops when the heart stops as they walk off the earth into the night air.
I am uniquely privileged to be alive or so they say. I have asked others who are unsure, especially the man with three kids who’s being foreclosed next month. One daughter says she isn’t leaving the farm, they can pry her out with tractor and chain. Mother needs heart surgery but there is no insurance. A lifetime of cooking with pork fat. My friend Sam has made five hundred bucks in 40 years of writing poetry. He has applied for 120 grants but so have 50,000 others. Sam keeps strict track. The fact is he’s not very good. Back to the ******* the farm. She’s been keeping records of all the wildflowers on the never-tilled land down the road, a 40-acre clearing where they’ve bloomed since the glaciers. She picks wild strawberries with a young female bear who eats them. She’s being taken from the eastern Upper Peninsula down to Lansing where Dad has a job in a bottling plant. She won’t survive the move.
No one sees life more clearly. He made it outside the universities, the club. Hardscrabble. The way a poet should live. And, he's a born Yooper!
A cold has put me on the fritz, said Eugene O'Neill, how can I forget certain things? Now I have thirteen bottles of red wine where once I had over a thousand. I know where they went but why should I tell? Every day I feed the dogs and birds. The yard is littered with bones and seed husks. Hearts spend their entire lives in the dark, but the dogs and birds are fond of me. I take a shower frequently but still women are not drawn to me in large numbers. Perhaps they know I'm happily married and why exhaust themselves vainly to ****** me? I loaned hundreds of thousands of dollars and was paid back only by two Indians. If I had known history it was never otherwise. This is the song of the cold when people are themselves but less so, people who haven't listened to my unworded advice. I was once described as "immortal" but this didn't include my mother who recently died. And why go to New York after the asteroid and the floods of polar waters, the crumbling buildings, when you're the only one there in 2050? Come back to earth. Blow your nose and dwell on the shortness of life. Lift up your dark heart and sing a song about how time drifts past you like the gentlest, almost imperceptible breeze.