May 2, 1978

Am I a poet?

People think so, but they consider poets wastrels without money. Throughout time poets have suffered scorn, hatred, ridicule, apathy, love, and poverty. Hart Crane wrote THE BRIDGE. Sailors threw him off a ship in the middle of the Caribbean. Poe died from drugs, Byron succumbed to disease in Greece, and Joyce Kilmer was slaughtered along with his generation in the trenches of France. None of them sought these deaths. They just happened, despite the magic of words and syllables set to a cadence. They mold languages far from the public. Few people read poetry and even fewer hear it spoken. I recite my poems to the walls. My drunken neighbor at the SRO hotel bangs on the wall.

“Shut up already.”

His three words cast a spell.

I go silent.

The only poets making money are singers.

I can’t sing, so I work as a waiter.

As the Rolling Stones said, “It’s the singer, not the song.


I played softball with the crew from EST. My position was right field. No one hit in my direction. Ann took over pitching in the fourth frame. I hit a triple in the fifth and our side had a one run lead. She kept them off the bases. In the last inning a young actor from Kansas hit a ball sharply. Ann raised her glove too late. The ball struck her face.

She spun around, as if she had been shot, holding her head. I ran from right field. Her theater friends clustered around Ann. They stood shocked by her pain. I kneeled and held her right hand. Her left hand covered that side of her face, which was red from the impact.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” stammered the young actor.”

“It’s not your fault,” answered Ann and the studio director, Kurt Dempster, asked, “Do you want to go to a hospital. Maybe your nose is broken.”

That was the last thing any actress wants to hear and I said, “It looks fine to me, Ann. Breathe deeply.”

After a minute Ann stood up. “I’m okay.”

She sat out the final outs and I sat by her side.

After the game we went downtown to my place. My drunk neighbor was playing on his sax. I asked Ann if it bothered her.

“No, I like Coltrane. Will I have a black eye?”

“No, but if you do, it will be cute.”


Why am I content with poverty?

I haven’t had a ten-spot in my pocket for days. My Irish grandfather and namesake would leave the house with less than $500 and that was in the 40s. I wish I was the same, instead I’m a pseudo-intellectual beggar.

After our fight about Anthony accusing me of stealing money, she said to him, “Peter wouldn’t steal. If he wanted money, he’d get it from me.”

I do love her.

In the meanwhile I’m waiting for my tax return check. I’m getting thinner and thinner. Marc Stevens asked if I wanted to deal cocaine. I said no. I tried dealing in Boston and only ended up deeper in debt. Right now I owe everyone money. I see no solution other than work. I tried to get a taxi job. I needed $75 to get the licenses. Nothing is free.

Ann is in love me with, but fears dependency on me. She’ll probably leave for her own good. I wish I could do the same. Sadly I’m stuck with me.

Summer is getting closer.

Last year in Brooklyn was a disaster.

This summer is looking to be a repeat.

Damn. Damn. Damn.

That’s the best poem I’ve written this year.

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