Originally published on August 19, 1997
Sueball celled in from Saint Thomas last night before reboarding the liner. She & her Aunt Lou are a fog of champagne sizzle, two larks clinging to a swizzle stick. I could smell the fun on her breath from here. It's brutal without her at home for this long, but you know me, I'm soaking up all the quiet I can. I miss her, but it'll be Labor day until we baby dance together again. With that clanging in my left ear I've carried since London '92, my days and nights pass eerily as if in the dark woods or high farm, bull crickets and the silence of nothing but the fan. Alone, no pressure to succeed, no terms of regret, no inkling of failure or gestures of redoubt. Hints of a new routine, say for instance an evening walk around the neighborhood, a dip into the city, a relaxing drink in the backyard nirvana will probably not happen. She tells me I don't know how to relax. I tell her she is correct.
No, I've stayed inside avoiding the heat, but I've noticed these inner stirrings. Today is twenty degrees cooler, but even so, I hack away at this terminal, working, planning, fooling myself I'm living life with some great plan to succeed. Me, I just do what I can, and try not to aggravate or be aggravated by every whim and weasel this world has to offer. Guess I'm still stewing over Blumstein's bluster because I don't know where it came from, life?
I associate this aural reverb with Lofton Creek FL, the chicken farm days, the cabin, the unbelievable stench of forty thousand birds that one learned to ignore, the long lonely weeks without ever seeing much less talking to or being heard by another human being, my daily summer skinnydipping with a bar of floating ivory soap, vegetarianism for the most part except the hand-picked smoked birds the landlord had stashed in the chest freezer, the daily diet of cheese and grapes and rye bread, the flood of imaginary lovers, the hurricane waters, and I busy, by lamplight writing my first serious, pressure poems of a lifetime, poems I still read with enthusiam today (aching to plug online), those ten mile hikes into town, Dylan Dog who looked and acted just like Nickel Dog, getting buried in three hundred year old literature checked from the library, Will Durant, and a steady feed from PBS.
I was 24-25. Young, thin, even skinny. Long sun-bleached blonde hair to my shoulders. Some say I looked like Jesus. Others John Lennon. Without the beard, Peter Frampton. Full of zest, vigor, and the peaceful easy feeling the Eagles sang about. Life is not always a home-brew. Life is what happens to you when you are busy making the bed you will sleep in tonight. We've heard all this wordplay before, but that's the steel and the gristle of it. Nothing's any more clear than that. Now the chicken farm is gone. My mentor (of hard work) has been dead for ten years, and the farm I helped build, torn down. Life? Yeah Bob, lemme sit at your feet, such wisdom.
Have you heard the recent uproar about the thousands of fish sporting nasty abcesses on their smelly scales first in North Carolina, and now the schools that prowl the Chesapeake? After nearly a year of mystery, these problems are being blamed on chicken farm runoff, a feathered excrement tragically high in nitrogen and ammonia gases running off into the streams and creeks straight into the ocean waters. That's some high octane chicken gas that survives the plunge into the sea. Chickens. Who knew back then...