Summer Times Blues

Today was the official summer solstice for the northern hemisphere. The day lasted almost sixteen hours in New York and the sun never set in Murmansk, Russia. I woke well before the dawn and went to sleep far past sunset, as the Earth polar cap tipped toward the nearest star 93 million miles away from our home planet.

Five hundred year after the discovery of beer by the Celts the Druid priests gathered the tribes to erect this monolithic bluestone clock to record the rising and setting on the sun and the passage of the stars. To this day modern archaeologists will not attributed this great feat to the Celts, because the true tribe supposedly arrived in Britain in 600 before Caeser’s reign over Rome.

Fucking Brits haven’t even discovered its ancient name.

No one has come even close.

No one.

Not even us remaining Neanderthals.

The Avebury henges followed Stonehenge’s creation.

Back in 1994 I drank in a good pub at the northern entrance.

I also climbed to the top of the Sillbury Hill.

Scientist have calculated that its construction took five hundred men fifteen years.

And over two seas of beer.

The exact purpose of the hill remains unknown.

The view from the top is good, but nothing special.

Stonehenge has its rivals such as the Hopewell Project in Bangkok.

Or Manhattanhenge in New York.

And who can forget the eternal bliss of Foamhenge in Virginia.

It’s now 2:33PM

In Brooklyn.

I am ready for a nap.

Longest day of the year or not.

With my head to the west.

As it should be on the summer solstice.

Snow Beer, Benny Hill, Lhasa 1995

In 1995 Tim Challen a 20 year old Briton wandered the world bound for Tibet. Chengdu, China was the airport of departure to Lhasa. Arranging visas et al he explored the Szechuan capitol arriving at a riverside cafe with two young female Dutch travelers for an afternoon tea. Surrounded by hibiscus flowers calm reigned along the Jin River, until loud moans broke from an older man receiving a shoulder massage from an even older Chinese woman.

“Bloody Yank,” he remarked to his companions. “Let’s go see the pandas.”

The next morning a minibus took his group to the airport. Tim boarded the plane and sat at a starboard window. The flight flew over the Himalayas and as the last passengers filled the plane, he became increasingly pleased with the prospect of his seating arrangement. Take-off was due and then the American from yesterday staggered down to aisle seeking his seat

“Please not here, please not here.”

The American stopped and looked at Tim.

“I think you’re in my seat ”

Tim got up and politely exchanged places. The American said nothing. A small blessing and fell asleep before takeoff.

An hour later he woke and looked out the window

“Damn, the Himalayas. Take a look ” The American rose from his seat and went to the restroom. Indeed damn. The mountain range to all horizons. After fifteen minutes, the American returned with two beers and sat by the window.

“I miss anything?” He asked handing Tim a can of Snow Beer.

“A hundred miles of Himalayas.”

“Plenty more to come.”

He turned on the in-flight TV.

“It’s Benny Hill. You like him?”

Tim did indeed and like that

Beer, Benny Hill, and soon Lhasa they became friends forever. Chai yo.

Tashi delek.
Foto – MIG surfing – Potala Palace, Lhasa, 1995

Wintah 1973.

NORTH OF HERE

BY

PETER NOLAN SMITH


The only problem with Maine is that you can’t eat the scenery – James Steele 1978


MANGOZEEN BOOKS 2024


VERMONT WINTAH 1973


A blizzard buried Montreal
The temp arctic.
Minus zero.
Crashing with two New Zealanders
Across the street
From the Winston Churchill Pub
Only forty feet
through chest high snow.
To a beer was a gamble.
Life, death or frozen limbs.
More storms ahead
On the morrow
Sun.
I bid adieu to my friends
To Marie-Claire
A waitress at the pub
“I’ll be back in the spring. Au revoir.”


I hitchhiked south.
Boston bound.
Grey low clouds
Overhead
Snow drops like clots of cream.
A farmer drive me to the border
Guards wave me through the frontier.


On American soil.
No cars
No trucks
Only snow.
And the cold cold wind.
The night.
Skin freezing
Shivering bones
Tears of ice.
No traffic.
Only snow and cold.


Finally headlights
An Oldsmobile Toronado
Front end transmission
A Rocket V8
Over 4000 pounds.
The V8 beast stops
The lock pops up
I brush off the snow
Sit inside.
Warmer than warm.
The driver an old woman.
“My name’s Meryl. Can drive in this.”


“I’m from Maine. We know snow.”


We switched seats.
I drive 20 mph
Into the snowy night
Headlights barely pierce the snow.
The only vehicle on the road
On the way to Burlington.


I stayed the night
Meryl cooks stew on the stove.
After dinner
A fire in the living room.
Whiskey in a glass.


Outside the cold.
The snow.
The night howls around her house.
Yellow birch burns in the fireplace.
Warm feet
Warm hands
The room pure
New England
The North. Wintah 1973


FIRST FIRST SNOW IN NYC 2024


No snow
In New York City.
Not cold neither.
Three years now.


Yesterday
Two inches of snow.
Cold.
Not Omaha cold -40.
20 degrees Fahrenheit cold.
And sunny.
The wind a cruel cold
Fort Greene Park.
The two inches of snow trampled
Thousands and thousands of feets.
Each child’s step immortalized in the cold.
Steps atop steps
Like the ruins atop Troy.


The slope down from the Monument
Snow flattened by children’s sleds.
Hundreds of sleds
Thousands of shouts of glee.

This morning
No one, but me and the sun and the snow
And the cold.
Near Arctic cold.


1957
Blackstrap Hill, Falmouth Maine
Five years old
With my brother, sister, and father.
No sun.
A gray sky.
None of us cold.
Inside our parkas.
Children from Maine never cold
Until the sun goes down.
We trudge through knee-deep snow.
Dragging a toboggan and a sled.
To the top of Blackstrap
I stand on the toboggan.
Slides slowly over the snow.
Arms out
For balance.
Picking up speed.
My father, “Jump.”
I don’t see why.
More speed.
I fly
Faster and faster.
Children in my path
No stopping.
I can’t fall.
I only fly.
At the bottom of the hill
A young girl
In my path.
No stopping
Shut eyes.
No thud.
No scream.
The toboggan arest.
Open eyes.
Step off.
People laughing.
Not my father.
“Go to the car.”
I go, the girl’s smile, I smile back.
The station wagon locked.
Sit on the snow
The air cold, the snow cold.
An hour later My father, brother, and sister
Dragging the toboggan and sled.
My father pulled me to my feet.
“Sit in the front. I’ll turn on the heat.”
Full blast all the way to Falmouth Foresides.

Not like today
Out the wind
In the sunlight
Fort Greene Park
Snow underfoot
The first snow in three years
But the same as Blackstrap,
Because as my grandfather once said,”There are two seasons in Maine. The season of good sledding And the season a bad sledding.”
Truth in those words.
Especially with more snow coming
In two days.
More
Good sledding ahead.


THE LITTLEST BEAR


Vernon fished the Casco Bay from Peakes Island.
The other day-fishers know his boat.
A 1985 Seaway 22-footer running the Drunken Ledge,
The Cod Ledges,
Big Ridge, and the Tanta’s ‘punkin bottom’.
Pollock and cod in the winter.
All in sight of the Ram’s Head Light station.
Vernon 56.
Fishing all he know.
Not speaking much,
Except to the fish and his boat
THE LITTLEST BEAR.
Forty-one years of fishing
Still has all his teeth and hair.
Once a stud to the cougars at Billy Ray’s Tavern
They thought he was worth one night.
Not no more.
He smells too much like fish.

On a sunny January day Vernon trailed two long lines
Over the blister bottom of the Klondike.
A good haul of cod to sell at the Portland pier.
This his life.
The wet of the sea, the smell of fish, and…..
A three-foot wave broke o’er the bow.
The sun low off the shore.
No other boats were in sight.
Wind from the north.
Dark clouds on the flat horizon.
Casco Bay not flat for long.
Heavy seas ahead and behind.
Still plenty of fish on the lines.
Only two options;
Haul in the catch or cut bait and head to the shelter of the nearest island.
Inner Green.
The cold Atlantic wind skates across his skin.
Something bad Down East.
Bad but not wicked.
“Fuck it.”
No fool Vernon cut the lines.
Time to outrun the weather.
Maybe not enough time.
Throughout that evening the storm got serious.
No one at Billy Ray’s Bar seen Vernon.
Not asea nor ashore.

They say nothing.
Saying something was bad luck.
They drained their PBRs and watched the Bruins.
At midnight the tavern door opened wide.
Vernon.
Drenched to the bone.

“Rough ride home. Two Jamie’s, a ‘Gansett.”
He eyed the bar.
Four other fishermen on the stools.
Dry.
“Get these landlubbers a drink too.”
Vernon says nothing else.
There was nothing to say.
A lifted finger.
Another round.
As many afore closing
Vernon knew his limit.


THE SOUL OF A SUMMER STUTTER


MmmmMagic Kkkklaxon Xxxxxray Thththat
A childhood stutter and stammer slurred my speech.
1950s.
Maine
Across the narbor from Portland
Mouth resisted the passage of the and ghs.
Family and friends failed to decipher my words.
Mangled consonants and muttered vowels in my mouth.
Adults thought me stupid.
Schoolmates thought me retarded.
Three beat me.
I soon understood everyone is stupid
Even me.

My father took me to Maine Medical.
Doctor’s diagnosis
“His tongue is too big for his mouth. Slicing his palate with razors will free his tongue to work more.”
My father rejected their cure.
“My son will live with a lisp.”

I had more than that
A stammer, misjuxtaposition of syllables, lisp, mumbling
Thereafter my own language.
Words mine alone
Understood by none.

Our family moved from Falmouth Foresides
To the South Shore Of Boston
A Catholic school.
Nuns. Uniforms. Mass.
Hide my speech.
The nuns would none of that
The ruler on my wrist for a sloppy ths.
Same for gh
Slap slap slap
My classmates happy to be spared the rod
The more severe nuns believed me Satan spawned.
I was also left-handed.

Sister Mary Osmond understood my flaws.
Scheduled speech therapy.
Taught Palmer Penmanship
To my right hand.
Her efforts helped
Sadly the bullies relentless more than those in Maine
Strangely my speech in Latin was perfect
Mea culpa mea culpa mea maxima culpa.
Forgive me forgive me forgive me a lot.
Priests understood my Latin
I believed in neither God or Satan.

1966
Ruby Tuesday
Dreams of the Rolling Stones.
A teenager in the 1960s seeking to live forever young.
Through books.
Music.
The world.
None of us had to speak in the 60s or 70s.
Teachers and parents sought silence.
Singers and poets hid me from the and ghs.
We live with forgotten words, and the history of ancient scents.
My girlfriend
Smelling of
A road tarred with peaches.

Years later.
1976.
A stolen car.
A city.
New York City.
Different from all before
And everything more
Not magic
Only the being here more than now
The spoken stood once
In my way
But not with poems
Poems
Whose power lost to the modern age
But not for a boy with a thick tongue
Especially with a Boston accent.

RED FISH AWASH


The ACADIA BAY 2 on the Gulf of Maine

Out in the Atlantic
Above the Cashes Bank
A hundred miles east of Portsmouth
Calm seas
Close to winter
Tricky weather.
Today so far okay.
Sunny
A slight swell from the deep.
Quentin slogs through the knee-deep catch.
Ninety-three minutes into his shift.
Four hours on.
Four hours off.

The aft awash
Red fish chewing bait.
The hold half-full.
Quentin never dry, always wet.
His fingers and toes
Icy old.
Christmas a week away.
Land way over the western sea.
Quentin not counting days
Nor the minutes.
Till land.
His eyes on the height of fish in the half full hold.
The net full.
More riches from the Cashes Bank.

On the Horizon
Another trawler
The Paper Sun.
Heavy with a tub of hake.
The sea never looks a lot like Christmas.
This far offshore.
Quinton noses the air.
Diesel fumes
The stink of fish.
The sea.
Always the sea.
Quinton not bathed in days.
Soon
Back ashore
Soon
New Bedford.
A few beers in Knuckleheads.
A burger and fries too.
A night in a cheap hotel
Then drive to Maine.
Three hours.
To Arundel
His mother Sister
A dog dog Penny,
A bath
More beer.
A home cooked meal and then Christmas
But not today
Not Tomorrow
Just hard labor
If lucky
Just four hours on
Four hours off
If wicked lucky
Work 24/7
Cold and wet eevery second

Aft awash with redfish
Gulls glide over the wake.
The sea always the sea.
The Atlantic always the Atlantic
Till the ACADIA BAY II
Berths in New Bedford
And
Quinton’s boots stomp the pier
Waiting for that first bazz on
Merry Yulemas to one all and none.

HUNTING CHRISTMAS TREES 1958

Fir trees lined the sidewalk On Vanderbilt Avenue
Clinton Hill,
Brooklyn.
Spruce pines.
Chopped Up north from New England forests.
My homeland.
Trees For families and friends To celebrate Christmas.
The fragrance of evergreens,
As
The tree elves
Elysaah, Ruth, and Bobby
Hock trees and wreaths.
Working hard
Whilst I laze
On my yuletide throne
Surrounded by Trees.

Eyes closed
Dreaming Of 1958
My father
With ax in hand.
The pine woods outside Gorham Maine.
Snow on the ground
My brother and me
The two of us
In tow
In search of the perfect tree.

My mothers and the younger other us
Back in the Ford Station Wagon
Heat running
Full blast
Windows closed

On a cold winter afternoon.
Our breaths hang on the air.
Paralyzed by the chill.
Us in red hats.
Red mittens too.
Always deer hunting season
In Maine.

The land belongs to someone.
Not us.
My father very honest
Except during tree hunting season.

Born in Maine
As was his father
And our grandfather.
They know the rules.
One tree a family.

I remember
My older brother
Before
A tree taller than my father
Our tree.
For Christmas.
My father spits in his hands
We stand back.
Thwock
Thwock
Thwock.
The tree down
To the snowy ground.
Sap bleeds from the stump.
Leaking the scent of pine
Into the winter air.

Same as today on Vanderbilt Avenue.
Hundreds of miles away from the Maine woods.
Decades distant from my youth.
Clouds overhead
Colder by the minute.
The scent of a hundred pine trees

The same
As The Maine Woods
1958
An Evergreen memory
From long Ago

Now
Winter
Coming Soon.
As always
Wintah
On Clinton Hill
And up in Maine. Especially Gotham. Merry Yulemas.
One and all.

WINTAH MAINE

Walking a back road
From school
No sign of the sun
Leaden clouds overhead
Fields frozen stiff under deep snow.
A northerly wind from Montreal.
Grey slush underfoot
Cold wet seeping
Through soles
Another slog to Grandmother’s house.
Where waits
A warm pot belly stove.
Pull off boots
Peel off sox
Stick frozen toes
Under the hot stove
Aaah.

A cup of tea
Milk and sugar
Aaah.

No more the cold
Grandmother’s house
Maine winter
Only another half-mile
To go
Till
Grandmother’s house
And Spring
Another four months away
Counting the days.
To April
Flowers
No snow.
Flowers.
Ahhhh.

NAKED TO THE COLD SEA

Early 70s
On Nauset’s nude beach
Hippies not yet punks.
A thick ledge of wet seaweed
The high tide mark.
Off with our clothes

Lay on the cool green algae
Our bare bodies sink beneath the sludge.
Comforted by the ocean’s flotsam.
The summer sun
We stand as one.
Naked to the elements
We laugh
Our seaweed skin hued the cold blue-green
Eyes met
Understood.
All
As one into the ocean.
Waves. Current. The Atlantic.
The seaweed freed from our skin.
Naked youth.

Hippies not yet punks
1972.
Young.

SEAGULLS IN THE AIR

Age six, my best friend Chaney and I
The end of the McKinley Road on Falmouth Foresides.
Portland across the harbor.
Water
A Maine blue.
Seagulls skate the cloudless sky.
Chaney pulls out darts from his father’s den.

Hands me one.
I throw
Hit a gull.
The bird flutters to the mud flat. Blood.
Waves laps over its wings.
The sea takes its own.
Chaney puts away the darts.
I hadn’t even aimed at the gull.
We walk back home.
Not a word to anyone. Not even to Cathy Burns.
Whom we both loved her.
He was eight.
Always will be eight.
I will never forget him.

Cumberland County Kingdom

From the Kezar Pond to Saco Bay.
Old Orchard Beach to Bailey’s Island.
The land of my youth.
The summer camp on Watchic Pond
Built by my grandfather.
A frontline surgeon in WWI France.
A retreat from the horrors to Maine
With a nurse, my grandmother.
A noble woman from a 9th generation Maine family.
A family of five.
One my father

A huge farmhouse
In Westbrook under the shadow of the SD Warren paper mill.
Cumberland County a land of tall pines.
1960
My best friend Chaney.
Found a basket of dead puppies.
We threw them into Portland Harbor.
The tide took them to sea.
My innocence destroyed by death.

Four years later a big-breasted girl at a drugstore counter.
“Will you walk me home?”
At 12 a walk was a walk.
I stuffed my comic in my jean’s back pocket.
Drained my vanilla soda.

A walk with the girl.
A path along the Presumpscot River
Past the paper mill.
No houses. No voices.
Trees.
The grinding of the wood saws across the river
The murmur of cars far from Main Street.
In the woods.
She lifts her dress over her head.
Her breasts puffy pillows.

Touch. Soft. Nipples hard. They belong to her. Not Barbie.
She sighs. I run.
Chased by her laughter.
To my grandmother’s house.
Upstairs to a bedroom with sea murals
I lay in bed.
Watching the headlights across the painted sea.
East and west.
Into the Atlantic.


Peter Nolan Smith is devoted to the magic of poetry and New England.

Despite a stammer, stutter, lisp, and a tendency to mumble, he has been blessed with the power to recite poems lost to himself the seconds he says them.

That is poetry.

Magic.

The wind, the sea, and of course chowder.

mangozeen.com

North of Dover-Foxcroft.

December 15, 1978 – East Village – Journal

Last night I ran into John Kemp, with whom I had worked for the New School student registration. He suggested going to CBGBs. I thought about saying no. Alice waited at 256 East 10th Street. We haven’t touched each other in weeks.

“Sure, why not?” I agreed to the walk down the Bowery. A cold winter night. I was wearing tennis shoes. Wet from the melting snow. Nothing was happening at the bar and Lang joined us for drinks at Grassroots. The downstairs dive was packed with locals from the scene. Beer was cheap and I downed a few shots of cheap well whiskey. I looked at the phone booth more than once. Telling myself to call Alice, but didn’t want to hear the silence on the other end. Things are not good with use. I haven’t told anyone anything about her being late. Laing gave me a chunk a hashish before I left at 3. I was really late, but not so drunk. I have a problem of handling my liquor too well. I was surprised to see Alice still wake in the bedroom. She had been reading Ionesco. A dramatist. I had no idea what he wrote. I tried to read it several times without getting a hook. Too esoteric for me. I have a simple mind.

She looked, as if she had been crying. That happens a lot. She never says why. Do I make her so unhappy. Coming in this late must hurt her, but she never speaks with me. She goes to meet with her friend, Susan, and never wants to do anything with me, as if I am the sole cause for her possible pregnancy.

“Where have you been?”

“CBGBs first and then Grassroots with John and Laing.” I wasn’t drunk, but I wasn’t sober either.

“Why didn’t you call? I was worried about you. I thought you might have gotten hurt or killed or…”

“Or fucking another woman.”

“Well, of those three choices, fucking is probably the most likely.” She didn’t dare accusing me of infidelity. I recognized her fear. I had been violent at Irving Plaza during the fight with Blondie. My bruised ribs from the betting felt better, but I was sure everyone of her friends had portrayed me as the aggressor, instead of the victim. My reputation is not that of a saint.

“Would you have wanted to meet me?” This was the most we had spoken in days and we weren’t done. “Truth is I don’t now. Last month all I wanted was to be with you.”

“And now?”

“You never want to be with me.”

Alice was leaving for the holidays in West Virginia with the divorced mother and father, shuttling between Charleston and Huntington. I sat on the bed and held her hand, surprised she hadn’t withdrawn from my gesture.

“I know things are not good between us. This possible pregnancy, ahving to deal with feuding parents, trying to do the show, debts, dealing with me. You’re going to be gone for two weeks. Skiing most of it.” I hadn’t skied since leaving New England in 1976. There were mountains north of here. The Catskills weren’t New England and the Adirondacks were too far away from the city.

“Maybe this time apart will be good for us.”

“Maybe.”

The last time she left for DC she returned cold and mean. Nothing like the woman I love. Days passed before she was the Alice I love and that abyss will be crossed again.

Foto by Ann Sanfedele
>

Last night I ran into John Kemp, with whom I had worked for the New School student registration. He suggested going to CBGBs. I thought about saying no. Alice waited at 256 East 10th Street. We haven’t touched each other in weeks.

“Sure, why not?” I agreed to the walk down the Bowery. A cold winter night. I was wearing tennis shoes. Wet from the melting snow. Nothing was happening at the bar and Lang joined us for drinks at Grassroots. The downstairs dive was packed with locals from the scene. Beer was cheap and I downed a few shots of cheap well whiskey. I looked at the phone booth more than once. Telling myself to call Alice, but didn’t want to hear the silence on the other end. Things are not good with use. I haven’t told anyone anything about her being late. Laing gave me a chunk a hashish before I left at 3. I was really late, but not so drunk. I have a problem of handling my liquor too well. I was surprised to see Alice still wake in the bedroom. She had been reading Ionesco. A dramatist. I had no idea what he wrote. I tried to read it several times without getting a hook. Too esoteric for me. I have a simple mind.

She looked, as if she had been crying. That happens a lot. She never says why. Do I make her so unhappy. Coming in this late must hurt her, but she never speaks with me. She goes to meet with her friend, Susan, and never wants to do anything with me, as if I am the sole cause for her possible pregnancy.

“Where have you been?”

“CBGBs first and then Grassroots with John and Laing.” I wasn’t drunk, but I wasn’t sober either.

“Why didn’t you call? I was worried about you. I thought you might have gotten hurt or killed or…”

“Or fucking another woman.”

“Well, of those three choices, that is probably the most likely.” She didn’t dare accusing me of infidelity. I saw that she feared me. I had been violent at Irving Plaza during the fight with Blondie. My bruised ribs from the betting felt better, but I was sure everyone of her friends had portrayed me as the aggressor, instead of the victim. My reputation is not that of a saint.

“Would you have wanted to meet me?” This was the most we had spoken in days and we weren’t done. “Truth is I don’t now. Last month all I wanted was to be with you.”

“And now?”

“You never want to be with me.”

Alice was leaving for the holidays in West Virginia with the divorced mother and father, shuttling between Charleston and Huntington. I sat on the bed and held her hand, surprised she hadn’t withdrawn from my gesture.

“I know things are not good between us. This possible pregnancy, ahving to deal with feuding parents, trying to do the show, debts, dealing with me. You’re going to be gone for two weeks. Skiing most of it.” I hadn’t skied since leaving New England in 1976. There were mountains north of here. The Catskills weren’t New England and the Adirondacks were too far away from the city.

“Maybe this time apart will be good for us.”

“Maybe.”

The last time she left for DC she returned cold and mean. Nothing like the woman I love. Days passed before she was the Alice I love and that abyss will be crossed again.

December 13, 1978 – East Village – Journal

I was born in Boston.

Raised on Falmouth Foresides

And the South Shore.

In 1976

I left for good.

New York bound,

Two years now

Yet I miss New England

The White Mountains

The Maine Coast

Old Orchard Beach,

Portland’s Eastern Promenade

The two old schooners rotting off Wicassett

Decaying river towns;

Lowell, Manchester, Saco, Chicopee, White River Junction

Beaches,

Nantasket, Wollaston, Horseneck Beach, Truro,

Cape Ann, Gloucester, Marblehead, the Beverly Salem Bridge

Lobstah, fried clams, Italian Sandwiches, and damned Chowdah.

From Lake Champlain across the Green Mountains

To the Connecticut River

Over the White Mountains

On the The Kancamagus Highway

Down to Newport and Across the Block Island.

New England. Oh New England.

Bridgeport, New Haven, New London.

We are not New York.

South of Boston

The Blue Hills

Swimming in the Quincy Quarries,

Tramping to the top of Chickatawbut

At 517 feet to the east

Big Blue to the west

635 feet.

Nothing taller from the Hudson to Mount Cadillac in Acadia

Just Blue Hill Tower

The hills of my youth

Of my teen years

Sex with Linda Imhoff

At Eighteen atop Rattlesnake Hill.

No forests

Fifteen generation trees

Stone farm walls

Tumbled by the frost

Bog ponds and swamps

My home town.

Forever New England.

December 12, 1978 – East Village – Journal

Poor Alice bears the financial brunt of our relationship. Beyond that she is my love and a good woman to my heart. We still haven’t had sex and she hasn’t had her period. Three weeks and she sleeps in the other room. I hear her crying and try to comfort her, but I haven’t the money for an abortion. Not that I want one. I want a little us, but she doesn’t want to hear that destiny. Despite the success of her shows, she beats herself up and I have no way to advise her about the future.

My mother and father came to town and we dined at our regular spot, McBells on Sixth Avenues. No one calls it Avenue of the Americas. I ordered a cheeseburger and Tommy deMastri offered us a bottle of wine from the congenial owner. Francis likes my younger brother. All my gay friends do. We enjoyed ourselves and returned to the apartment. I fronted to my parents, that the apartment was mine, instead of ours. Alice was embarrassed at our living situation. Upon her departure, my mother slipped me $20 and said, “This place is fine for now, but I don’t want to see it as part of your life in two years.”

“Neither would I.” I can’t explain to them my lifestyle of hangin out at CBGBs every night. I can’t explain it to myself other than I love it.

I walked them to the corner. They are obviously out of place on East 10th Street with the pack of sinse dealers on the corner, who respectfully wished us a good evening. Criminals to the police, but they always watch Alice’s back.

I put them in a yellow taxi and Frankie, one of the Puerto Ricans with whom I played basketball, came over and asked, “They your mother and father?”

“Yes.”

“Your old man is good looking for his age and still has some of his hair. A lot more than most white men. You’ll look like him in thirty years. And te madre, very beautiful.”

“Thanks.” After thirty years of frosting her hair blonde my mother has decided to go natural. No more hair spray. BaCk when we were young my older brother and I stole her aerosol cans and taped them together to exploded in a hidden bonfire in a nearby sandpit. Our attempts to convert them into multi-stage missiles failed without failure.

I love my parents, strange since I hear so many friends badmouth their parents. My father always told me the truth and my mother has always wanted what was best. Easy since my father never said anything and my mother wanted what she thought best. They must worry for me; no job, no career, but they had politely listened to my poetry during dinner. I just don’t want to end up like my Aunt Mary’s beau. Peter Willen was an old communist, heavy smoker, and had horrible teeth, but he loved my aunt to the end. So my fear is only being loyal to someone I love.

Vernon fishes Casco Bay
Small Point to Two Lights
Nets full of cod and blues
His dory was known
Islanders saying, “There goes Vernon.”
Until in November
A savage gale struck
A Nor’easter
Arctic seas
A cold heavy sea.
Not relgious
Vernon curses God
A mean philistine
Sending such storms
“Bastard.”
Two days later
Coast Guard finds his dory
Smashed
On the rocks of Small Point
Not far from ashore.
Vernon never comes to land
He died at sea
A fisherman’s way.