Miss Wide and See

On the first day of class our second-grade teacher wrote her name on the blackboard.

Miss Weidensee

She then wrote a short poem underneath, animating the words in voice and gesture.

Open your eyes

Wide and see

My name is

Miss Weidensee

Easy enough to surmise, our reading curriculum was primarily Dr. Suess’ textbooks. I can’t remember the exact nature of the writing assignment she gave us one day. My only memory is the high praise and celebration she bestowed. Singling out my effort by writing my poem on the blackboard, then reading it aloud in front of the whole class.

I had a cat

He was very fat

He sat on my hat

The hat went flat

And that was the end of that

I was only seven years old, but I knew one day I would be old enough to marry Miss Weidensee and pursue the life of a writer she knew I was.

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Man of Letters

Remember the day
you bartered your memory
for your story
Remember the day
legend submitted to fame
Remember the day
Silent Knight laid down his Sword
Charles Wain and the Seven Dramaturgs
Mary Feast was legendary
until they gave a Rat Sass
you had remained 
K had remained
North Star in the dark NIGHT
Immortal memory not story
when you wrote an autobiography
to write was to rite
until what was wrote became rote
Hear/Say again the rumored unseen W
DoubleYou of memory and legend
Remember that day
Xmas was Christ

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Gone to Seed

My written words were the worst of me. Cloaked deceits.  

Autocorrects of

Real life has no true representations 

I no longer need, or even understand

What was the need

To see oneself


To see d one’s self

In the blank space between 

The needy letters arranging themselves

Finding complacent words for a safe landing

Please allow this aircraft to crash

With my soul intact I denounce 

All that has been written is the lie

That was not life

But it’s escape from authenticity

Fight attendants, if you haven’t done so, please prepare

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Talking Sticks

Back in the day when we were called hippies, not homeless, I lived with an Apache named Bill Dixon for a summer. We slept nights outside on the ground next to a small river deep enough to swim in. Our days were spent in a couple different bars and restaurants in and around Winslow, Arizona. 

Bill made money by drawing portraits of people in his large sketchbook. In the time it took a family or couple to order and eat a meal Bill would sketch a portrait of one or more of them.  After they had left the restaurant and were walking back to their car Bill gave them the portrait as a gift. I would watch this commerce as pantomime from inside the restaurant. Bill Dixon’s drawings always translated into the only tangible token we have. From watching the transaction I was usually able to predict the value of the investment. Longer exchanges with smiles and handshakes meant Bill and I would be able to move over to the bar a bit earlier that particular day. 

At the bar Bill continued drawing but I became the breadwinner at the backroom pool table. The bar allowed small stakes gambling. For the restaurant and bar owners, Bill Dixon’s sketches and my three-cushion bank shots became almost like added entertainment. Bill and I would catch a ride home to the riverbank at night usually only with enough money for breakfast the next morning.

One night by the river Bill told me his Apache name, the name that was used at his home by his family, his people. He asserted that his name was untranslatable into English. The power of the name was inextricably intertwined within the language. Leaving its native language the name would lose its power and disappear.

Bill also told me the story of his English surname. At the time when his grandfather was a young boy the government had forced all the Apache children into schools whose goal was to assimilate the tribe into the larger culture outside the reservations. Children were instructed to choose both first and last English names. Bill’s grandfather found his surname right there among the items on his school desk. Bill finished this story by holding his portrait sketching tool up in the light of our campfire. A yellow DIXON pencil.

Shortly after this time with Bill Dixon I enrolled in school. I had learned how to shoot pool as a high school dropout and delinquent but I had gotten my GED in the Army and eventually would go through graduate school on the GI bill. During that time in school I became a writer. I wrote longhand on yellow legal pads in pencil, a Dixon pencil. I was accepted into graduate writing programs on the basis of a short story I wrote. “A Cue Stick” is about a teenager in search of his masculinity and identity in a largely predestined world of jail and prison.

Bill never told me why he didn’t live with his family on the reservation. What I do know is that home can be both a refuge and a prison.

The child alone in a cage will try to make it his home. He searches for his mother tongue. She is not there. Was she ever there? But he holds the talking stick right at the border of our humanity and cries out his name in the language of angels.

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Re: Hearse

If I were a musician or singer I would simply cover the song over and over. But as writer and performer I need to find another entrance into the quintessential secular hymn. A meditation, a rehearsal. Solitary, yet linked, signature actions in one’s life toward the final breath.

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Concrete Poem

“You have to pull your stomach up high to turn your solar plexus into a terrorist.” –Hijikata

FULL PERFORMANCE 4/6/2019 at Sideshow by the Seashore, Coney Island USA

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