Down to Earth Dave’s Post of the Day–July 11

Salutations, Gentle Reader,

No, I haven’t been in a coma or worse.  I have been living mindfully and have truly been busy.  Still, I’ve said often that I would like to resume my blog.Today is one entry, completely whimsical, and offered for nothing more than the opportunity to offer you some humour.  I call it…

The NYC Gay Man’s Guide to the World Cup Finals

Don’t talk about statistics or the fact that Germany annihilated World Cup Host Brazil, while Argentina eliminated The Netherlands on penalty kicks.  If you want to know who to support for the World Cup finals, go to the three L’s:  lyrics, legs, and loftiness.

If you want to know who to support for the World Cup finals, go to the three L’s:  lyrics, legs, and loftiness.

Lyrics:  Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita captured the hearts of a generation of theatre goers, and despite Madonna’s tragic film adaptation of it, every self-respecting patron of Marie’s Crisis Cafe can sing “Don’t Cry for me, Argentina” and “Rainbow Tour” in his or her sleep.  Germany fared okay in Cabaret, but for the most part, Germany just doesn’t fare too well in musicals, unless you’re watching Springtime for Hitler.  The true deciding factor, though, goes to Casablanca.  What NYC gay man will ever forget that scene when Paul Henreid as Viktor Laszlo marched down the stairs past the German soldiers singing “Die Wacht am Rhein” and called in the support of the band to drown them out with “La Marseillaise”?

Lyrics:  Advantage –  Argentina

Legs:  Let’s face it, soccer players have some of the best legs in the world.  While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, my eye is beholding to “The Fatherland.”

http://www.dw.de/image/0,,2066546_4,00.jpgGermany

http://sportsjacks.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Top-best-argentina-soccer-players-now-featured-300x267.jpgArgentina

 

Hmmmm, too close to call.  Let’s check some more.ArgentinaGermany

 

This one is close, about as close as Argentina’s victory over The Netherlands.  I’m going on initial impression here.

Legs:  Advantage – Germany

Loftiness:  What the hell is “loftiness”, you ask?  Loftiness refers to culture.  Germany has unbeatable beer and crisp Rieslings.  Argentina has…What does Argentina have?  The German flag isn’t too grand…

http://www.german-flag.org/german-640.gif

But check out this festive flag from Argentina!

http://img4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120819045232/conworld/images/e/e9/Flag_of_Argentina_(2).png

While neither teams uniforms would catch the eye of either of the Brooks Brothers, they’re pretty fair.  http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/mediafile/201103/04/P201103040927351355455843.jpg  http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3721/10821648765_5763ca354a_m.jpg

So Germany wins on beer and wine, Argentina wins on the flags, and the uniforms are a tie.

Loftininess:  EVEN

In the end, I think the Unofficial NYC Gay Man’s Guide to the World Cup Finals comes down to this:  Mercedes.  Let’s go, Germany!

 

Remain calm, and speak well.

Be kind to yourself.  Be kind to the planet and the future.  Cause no suffering.  Go Vegan!

David!

 

 

 

 

Down to Earth Dave’s Post of the Day–May 19

Salutations, Gentle Reader,

 I’ve shared with you before how much I admire those who recover from various addictions and compulsions through 12-Step Programs. While I don’t know this to be factual, I’m confident in saying that most, if not all, 12-Step meetings begin with the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

(Intrusion; my morning commute is making local stops instead of running express. Um, God, grant me the serenity to accept the MTA.)

Gentle Reader, I discovered long ago that truth and wisdom are often found in simplicity. I think the Serenity Prayer represents such an example. On the surface, this petition is simple. Let me accept serenely things I cannot change. Let me boldly change things I can. Let me know the difference. As my dad, a US Marine for over two decades, advised, “David!, choose your battles wisely.”

Please indulge me as I take this to a personal level. I’ve shared with you the challenge I face in trying to choose between remaining in this City I love so much and from which I draw strength and identity or returning to my family in NC, where I could enjoy a proximal closeness with my daughter as well as my aging mother. As I descended from my apartment this morning, I was saying the Serenity Prayer and pondered whether the courage to change meant that I should have the courage to change my residence or the courage to change aspects of living in NYC. Maybe I need to consider whether my personal skills are best aligned with my professional endeavours. Or maybe moving is inevitable and I just need the serenity to accept it.

Image

 

Today, I’m really concentrating on that third component: God, grant me the wisdom to know the difference.

 

Questions of the mind

Gallop as valiant steeds

Trampling serenity

 

Rising skyward, Ho!

Bustling sidewalks, crowded streets

My epitome.

 

Running, arms flung wide!

Daddy!!!! Lookers on smiling.

He blinks tears of joy.

 

Remain calm, and speak well.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to the planet and the future. Cause no suffering. Go Vegan!

 David!

Down to Earth Dave’s Post of the Day–May 9

Salutations, Gentle Reader,

Alas, the Post of the Day has been sporadic lately!  Please accept my apologies and my pledge to return to regular posts as soon as possible.  As I was riding the D-Train down to Herald Square this morning, I saw three people in particular work their way onto the train at 145th Street and immediately thought, “Parents are visiting daughter.”  Even with Billie Holiday singing into my ears, I could hear enough of their conversation to confirm my suspicion.  The daughter was en route to work, and the ol’ P & M were en route to a day out and about Gotham.  Their daughter, like me, has come to NYC to be who she can be here.  For seven and a half years, I’ve been able to actually call New York home, and I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to fully explain its draw.  I do know this:  I am merely one of legions of people who have come to New York in search of…

I’ll allow you to end that last sentence.

Gentle Reader, in my mind I know that I’ll always be a New Yorker.  Recently, I shared with you the struggle I’m having about remaining here or returning to NC.  Interestingly, my family (including my ex-wife) have been the ones to say, “Come back.”  None of my friends have said that.  My friends, including the ones in NC, have all advised staying here.  Maybe they “get” the truth of the first sentence of my professional bio:

When Milton Glaser designed the iconic I Love NY logo and ad campaign in 1977, he likely was unaware that he was capturing David “David!” Webb’s feelings, but he was. Image

Sometimes, I wish I didn’t love NY so much.  In ways, life would likely be easier, but perhaps the apostle John had it right. As he was imprisoned on Patmos, he wrote of how restriction leads to freedom for the dedicated heart, mind, and soul.  What I find in NYC is the simultaneous union of challenge and freedom, of responsibility and bon vivance, of distinguished culture and sheer bohemianism.

Gentle Reader, I’m at this point:  I’ve told my family that I’m not ready to choose between staying here or returning to NC.  I’ve moved my deadline to make my choice from May to June.  Am I delaying the inevitable?  I don’t think so.  I’ve been tapped by my leaders at work to become a designated recruiter for the firm.  I’ve begun dedicating more time to St. Luke’s, as it is in a period of transition in its parish administrator’s position.  I’ve begun a specific program for personal growth.  I continue to meet new people of intrigue.  (May I confess that I had quite the ego boost Wednesday evening at Sommerlyn’s client & partner appreciation wine tasting?  A very dapper agent from another brokerage approached and reminded me that we had met early last summer, when I brought a client to an apartment he had listed.  I apologized for not recalling his name and complimented him on his own ability to recall.  He smiled and said, “You’re quite a memorable person, David!.”  Hmmmm, There’s a potential friendship and…    Again, I’ll let you finish that last sentence!)

Gentle Reader, I’m going to close today’s post with a poem (or two), a link to the immortal Bobby Short singing at the Carlyle Hotel, offering his rendition of one of his signature songs:  “I Happen to Like New York“, and my own Doppelganger, Billy Joel singing “New York State of Mind“.

Lunch Hour in New York

Trees, each with a shape,

However seldom noticed and related

To other shapes,

But there,

Sway in the wind

In Uptown Central Park

In early afternoon

In bright July.

Grass, green, with a fragrance,

With a softness,

Moves a little

And people are there on it or on benches.

It is lunch hour in New York;

The milk from containers, cool, is drunk,

The sandwiches and fruit are eaten;

The inertia feeling,

The full feeling, comes over the people

And they sit around and walk around

And lie around,

Their shapes in their clothing containing

Meaning in middle afternoon

In bright July.

Louis Dienes

Mannahatta

I WAS asking for something specific and perfect for my city,

Whereupon, lo! upsprang the aboriginal name!

Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane, unruly, musical, self-sufficient;

I see that the word of my city is that word up there,

Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays, superb, with tall and wonderful spires,           5

Rich, hemm’d thick all around with sailships and steamships—an island sixteen miles long, solid-founded,

Numberless crowded streets—high growths of iron, slender, strong, light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies;

Tide swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown,

The flowing sea-currents, the little islands, larger adjoining islands, the heights, the villas,

The countless masts, the white shore-steamers, the lighters, the ferry-boats, the black sea-steamers well-model’d;        10

The down-town streets, the jobbers’ houses of business—the houses of business of the ship-merchants, and money-brokers—the river-streets;

Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a week;

The carts hauling goods—the manly race of drivers of horses—the brown-faced sailors;

The summer air, the bright sun shining, and the sailing clouds aloft;

The winter snows, the sleigh-bells—the broken ice in the river, passing along, up or down, with the flood tide or ebb-tide;                  15

The mechanics of the city, the masters, well-form’d, beautiful-faced, looking you straight in the eyes;

Trottoirs throng’d—vehicles—Broadway—the women—the shops and shows,

The parades, processions, bugles playing, flags flying, drums beating;

A million people—manners free and superb—open voices—hospitality—the most courageous and friendly young men;

The free city! no slaves! no owners of slaves!       20

The beautiful city, the city of hurried and sparkling waters! the city of spires and masts!

The city nested in bays! my city!

The city of such women, I am mad to be with them! I will return after death to be with them!

The city of such young men, I swear I cannot live happy, without I often go talk, walk, eat, drink, sleep, with them!

Walt Whitman

 

Remain calm, and speak well.

Be kind to yourself.  Be kind to the planet and the future.  Cause no suffering.  Go Vegan!

David!

 

 

Down to Earth Dave’s Post of the Day–May 2

FOREWORD:  Gentle Reader, this blog continues to evolve, and its evolution is moving well past considerable emphasis on real estate.  In fairness and a dedication to authenticity, I’m severing any official association between these writings and the real estate profession, as well as with my brokerage of affiliation, Sommerlyn Associates, LLC.  I’m still a real estate professional, and I’ll still comment on that aspect of my life, but it would be disingenuous to present this as a real estate blog.

 

Salutations, Gentle Reader,

You may have noticed that I enjoy reading, writing, and discussing poetry.  In the verdant days of college I discovered this love.  I still remember an instructor in my freshman year, Mr. Ron Rash, whose teaching style was unlike any other I’d experienced.  He ignited a spark that has never been extinguished.  To consider poetry is to consider language.  To consider language is to consider interaction.  To consider interaction is to consider life itself.

The sports world–and to an extent, even the greater culture regardless of its affinity or lack thereof for sport–has been rocked this past week by the revelation of racist remarks by Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling.  The National Basketball Association responded by suspending him from the NBA for life and assessing him a $2.5M fine.  NBA commissioner Adam Silver cites irreparable harm by the league’s longest tenured owner.  Sterling has indicated he’ll appeal.

Aside from my love of the irony of the two principals in the saga being named Sterling and Silver, this whole situation makes me sick.  Sterling’s attitude is indicative of most of what I find distasteful in society, ultimately attitudes that are grounded in the concepts of fear and exclusion.  However, as much as I disagree with Sterling’s attitude, he was allegedly recorded without being informed (illegal in the state of California) and was holding a private conversation with his girlfriend.  As NBA great Kareem Abdul Jabaar pointed out, we Americans have been excoriating the federal government, particularly the National Security Administration, for its eavesdropping practices lately.  How, then, can we accept the same of Sterling?

Segue with me to tomorrow’s running of the Kentucky Derby.  In those same college days, my friends and I would hold Derby Day parties–really an excuse to celebrate the ending semester and drink mint juleps.  In my jovial manner, I’d predict the winner solely based on the colours of the jockey or the name of the horse.  I hit the jackpot when Spend-A-Buck won!  (Incidentally, so as not to be accused of pulling a Sterling, the jockey’s colours refer to the actual colour and pattern of the silks he wears, not his ethnicity.)  Prior to the running of the Derby, we would join in singing the Bluegrass State’s official song, “My Old Kentucky Home”, written by the famous American songster Stephen Foster, who actually spent much more time in New York than he ever did in Kentucky.  Foster evolved from being complacent about slavery into being an abolitionist, and the lyrics of “My Old Kentucky Home” actually were intended to draw attention to the plight of slaves and move towards abolition, a motivation that was recognized and acknowledged by Frederick Douglass.

My Old Kentuck Home

Verse 1: 
The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home 
’tis summer, the darkies are gay, 
the corn top’s ripe and the meadow’s in the bloom 
while the birds make music all the day. 
The young folks roll on the little cabin floor 
all merry, all happy, and bright. 
By’n by hard times comes a-knocking at the door, 
then my old Kentucky home, good night. 

Chorus: 
Weep no more, my lady, 
oh weep no more today. 
We will sing on song for the old Kentucky home, 
for the old Kentucky home far away. 

 

ImageYet that isn’t what will be sung tomorrow in Louisville at Churchill Downs.  The second line will be sung thus:  “…’tis summer, the people are gay…”  In 1986, a group of visiting Japanese students were in the gallery of the Kentucky House and began to sing the song, which was adopted as the state’s official song in 1928.  Everyone stood, but when the students sang “darkeyes”, Represent Carl Hines, the assembly’s lone black representative, sat down.  Within days, he sponsored House Resolution 159, which amended the lyrics for any occasion in which the song was to be sung at any official state function.

The result was the removal of an offensive word.  The secondary result was that Foster’s abolitionist intent was diminished, if not totally removed.  The image of people being gay–and not in the way with which I may be rightfully associated–leads to grand thoughts of the antebellum Old South, an idyll captured at the beginning of Gone With the Wind.  Or as I like to say, the “good ol’ days” were only good if you were one of the majority, because after all, history is recorded by the victors.

Language.  Powerful stuff.  Respect it.

Remain calm, and speak well.

Be kind to yourself.  Be kind to the planet and the future.  Cause no suffering.  Go Vegan!

David!

the last poem

David! Webb, Real Estate Professional, Vegan, and Nice Man:

Please enjoy this beautifully crafted poem posted on a blog I follow.

David!

Originally posted on the tenth muse:

pipeline in flood

at the end,
i don’t know that we are any better off.

the rains have stopped
and everything green
is growing, but we still don’t
have travel plans,
and tomorrow is anyone’s guess.

the squirrels got the first
strawberries, and the red
rose is set
to open its first blooms
any day now.

i got through without owing in taxes.
i can hear church bells
with the front door open.
sometimes you return my texts.
some nights we sleep like lovers.

it is the first of May,
and the river calls.
you told me yesterday: three
cars tumbled in, spilling
crude somewhere

upstream. i don’t know
if it was a result
of the storms, or
our negligence.
it will reach here,

they say, but not when.

View original

Down to Earth Dave’s Post of the Day–May 1

Salutations, Gentle Reader,

You may have gathered yesterday that I face a bit of a dilemma.  It’s actually a bit of a dilemma that I’ve been dealing with for some time.  Gentle Reader, I’m torn between two loves:  the love I have for my daughter and the love I have for NYC.  To be perfectly candid, the thought of possibly leaving Gotham is depressing to me.  I’ve carved out a life here, and I love that life.  Just as Anne Frank found strength in the sky and the sun and nature, (DTEDave’s Post–April 30) I find that strength in the energy and beat of New York.  I feel more at home here than any other place I’ve ever lived.  At the same time, I miss my daughter, and there’s a growing sense of filial obligation towards my mom.

Oh, Gentle Reader, I know life isn’t easy, but does it have to be this difficult?

First, there’s the prevalent political climate in NC.  Okay, I’ll avoid political discussion and just leave it to you to figure out from these facts:  I chose to leave the South to relocate to NYC.  I don’t own nor want to own a firearm.  I’m an out and proud member of the LGBTQ community.  I was once a public school educator.  I do a mean Bill Clinton impersonation.  I am an environmentalist.  I’m a Vegan.

When I left NC in 2006, I was happy to be moving to the Northeast.  I still love the Northeast.  But is it enough?  Although I communicate with her almost daily, I’m not seeing my child grow up.  If I return to NC, I’ll be closer to her.  I’ll see her more often.  I’ll be more than a FaceTime chat and the occasional visit.

But if I leave New York, will I be miserable in other areas?  Will I be so lonely for the City that the Big Black Dog of Depression becomes an even more prevalent element of life than he already is?  I’ll have to start driving regularly again.  I’ll have to leave St. Luke’s Lutheran.  I’ll be leaving Sommerlyn, just as we’ve moved to our new headquarters–that tripled our space and gave us two professional conference rooms and moved us to Midtown, one block from the Empire State Building.  

Gentle Reader, I’m torn.

Ninety-Fifth Street

BY JOHN KOETHE

Words can bang around in your head
Forever, if you let them and you give them room.
I used to love poetry, and mostly I still do,
Though sometimes “I, too, dislike it.” There must be
Something real beyond the fiddle and perfunctory
Consolations and the quarrels—as of course
There is, though what it is is difficult to say.
The salt is on the briar rose, the fog is in the fir trees.
I didn’t know what it was, and I don’t know now,
But it was what I started out to do, and now, a lifetime later,    
All I’ve really done. The Opening of the Field,
Roots and Branches, Rivers and Mountains: I sat in my room
Alone, their fragments shored against the ruin or revelation
That was sure to come, breathing in their secret atmosphere,
Repeating them until they almost seemed my own.
We like to think our lives are what they study to become,
And yet so much of life is waiting, waiting on a whim.
So much of what we are is sheer coincidence,
Like a sentence whose significance is retrospective,
Made up out of elementary particles that are in some sense
Simply sounds, like syllables that finally settle into place.
You probably think that this is a poem about poetry
(And obviously it is), yet its real subject is time,
For that’s what poetry is—a way to live through time
And sometimes, just for a while, to bring it back.
*     *     *
A paneled dining room in Holder Hall. Stage right, enter twit:
“Mr. Ashbery, I’m your biggest campus fan.” We hit it off
And talked about “The Skaters” and my preference for “Clepsydra”
Vs. “Fragment.” Later on that night John asked me to a party in New York,
And Saturday, after dinner and a panel on the artist’s role as something
(And a party), driving Lewis’s Austin-Healey through the rain
I sealed our friendship with an accident. The party was on Broadway,
An apartment (white of course, with paintings) just downstairs
From Frank O’Hara’s, who finally wandered down. I talked to him
A little about Love Poems (Tentative Title), which pleased him,
And quoted a line from “Poem” about the rain, which seemed to please him too.
The party ended, John and I went off to Max’s, ordered steaks
And talked about our mothers. All that talking!—poems and paintings,
Parents, all those parties, and the age of manifestos still to come!
I started coming to New York for lunch. We’d meet at Art News,
Walk to Fifty-sixth Street to Larre’s, a restaurant filled with French expatriates,
Have martinis and the prix fixe for $2.50 (!), drink rose de Provence
And talk (of course) about Genet and James and words like “Coca-Cola.”
It was an afternoon in May when John brought up a play
That he and Kenneth Koch and Frank O’Hara—Holy Trinity!
(Batman was in vogue)—had started years ago and never finished.
There was a dictator named Edgar and some penicillin,
But that’s all I remember. They hadn’t actually been together
In years, but planned to finish it that night at John’s new apartment
On Ninety-fifth Street, and he said to come by for a drink
Before they ate and got to work. It was a New York dream
Come true: a brownstone floor-through, white and full of paintings
(Naturally), “with a good library and record collection.”
John had procured a huge steak, and as I helped him set the table
The doorbell rang and Frank O’Hara, fresh from the museum
And svelte in a hound’s tooth sports coat entered, followed shortly
By “excitement-prone Kenneth Koch” in somber gray,
And I was one with my immortals. In the small mythologies
We make up out of memories and the flow of time
A few moments remain frozen, though the feel of them is lost,
The feel of talk. It ranged from puns to gossip, always coming back
To poems and poets. Frank was fiercely loyal to young poets
(Joe Ceravolo’s name came up I think), and when I mentioned Lewis
In a way that must have sounded catty, he leapt to his defense,
Leaving me to backtrack in embarrassment and have another drink,
Which is what everyone had. I think you see where it was going:
Conversation drifting into dinner, then I stayed for dinner
And everyone forgot about the play, which was never finished
(Though I think I’ve seen a fragment of it somewhere). I see a table
In a cone of light, but there’s no sound except for Kenneth’s
Deadpan “Love to see a boy eat” as I speared a piece of steak;
And then the only voice I’m sure I hear is mine,
As those moments that had once seemed singular and clear
Dissolve into a “general mess of imprecision of feeling”
And images, augmented by line breaks. There were phone calls,
Other people arrived, the narrative of the night dissolved
And finally everyone went home. School and spring wound down.
The semester ended, then the weekend that I wrote about in “Sally’s Hair”
Arrived and went, and then a late-night cruise around Manhattan for a rich friend’s
Parents’ anniversary bash, followed by an Upper East Side preppie bar
That left me looking for a place to crash, and so I rang John’s bell at 2 AM
And failed (thank God) to rouse him, caught a plane to San Diego
The next day, worked at my summer job and worked on poems
And started reading Proust, and got a card one afternoon
From Peter Schjeldahl telling me that Frank O’Hara had been killed.
Ninety-fifth Street soldiered on for several years.
I remember a cocktail party (the symposium of those days),
Followed by dinner just around the corner at Elaine’s,
Pre-Woody Allen. It was there I learned of R.F.K.’s assassination
When I woke up on the daybed in the living room, and where
John told me getting married would ruin me as a poet
(I don’t know why—most of his friends were married), a judgment
He revised when he met Susan and inscribed The Double Dream of Spring
“If this is all we need fear from spinach, then I don’t mind so much”
(Which was probably premature—watering his plants one day
She soaked his landlord, Giorgio Cavallon, dozing in the garden below).
It was where Peter Delacorte late one night recited an entire side
Of a Firesign Theatre album from memory, and set John on that path,
To his friends’ subsequent dismay, and where he blessed me with his extra copy
Of The Poems, and next day had second thoughts (though I kept it anyway).
Sometimes a vague, amorphous stretch of years assumes a shape,
And then becomes an age, and then a golden age alive with possibilities,
When change was in the air and you could wander through its streets
As though through Florence and the Renaissance. I know it sounds ridiculous,
But that’s the way life flows: in stages that take form in retrospect,
When all the momentary things that occupy the mind from day to day
Have vanished into time, and something takes their place that wasn’t there,
A sense of freedom—one which gradually slipped away. The center
Of the conversation moved downtown, the Renaissance gave way to mannerism
As the junior faculty took charge, leaving the emeriti alone and out of it
Of course, lying on the fringes, happily awake; but for the rest
The laws proscribing what you couldn’t do were clear. I got so tired
Of writing all those New York poems (though by then I’d moved to Boston—
To Siena, you might say) that led to nowhere but the next one,
So I started writing poems about whatever moved me: what it’s like
To be alive within a world that holds no place for you, yet seems so beautiful;
The feeling of the future, and its disappointments; the trajectory of a life,
That always brought me back to time and memory (I’d finished Proust by then),
And brings me back to this. John finally moved downtown himself,
Into a two-story apartment at Twenty-fifth and Tenth, with a spiral staircase
Leading to a library, the locus of the incident of Susan, Alydar and John
And the pitcher of water (I’ll draw a veil over it), and Jimmy Schuyler sighing
“It’s so beautiful,” as Bernadette Peters sang “Raining in My Heart” from Dames at Sea.
The poetry still continued—mine and everyone’s. I’d added Jimmy
To my pantheon (as you’ve probably noticed), but the night in nineteen sixty-six
Seemed more and more remote: I never saw Kenneth anymore,
And there were new epicenters, with new casts of characters, like Madoo,
Bob Dash’s garden in Sagaponack, and Bill and Willy’s loft in Soho.
John moved again, to Twenty-second Street, and Susan and I moved to Milwaukee,
Where our son was born. I stopped coming to New York, and writing poems,
For several years, while I tried to dream enough philosophy for tenure.
One afternoon in May I found myself at Ninth and Twenty-second,
And as though on cue two people whom I hadn’t seen in years—David Kalstone,
Darragh Park—just happened by, and then I took a taxi down to Soho
To the loft, and then a gallery to hear Joe Brainard read from I Remember,
Back to John’s and out to dinner—as though I’d never been away,
Though it was all too clear I had. Poems were in the air, but theory too,
And members of the thought police department (who must have also gotten tenure)
Turned up everywhere, with arguments that poetry was called upon to prove.
It mattered, but in a different way, as though it floated free from poems
And wasn’t quite the point. I kept on coming back, as I still do.
Half my life was still to come, and yet the rest was mostly personal:
I got divorced, and Willy killed himself, and here I am now, ready to retire.
There was an obituary in the Times last week for Michael Goldberg,
A painter you’ll recall from Frank O’Hara’s poems (“Why I Am Not a Painter,”
“Ode to Michael Goldberg (’s Birth and Other Births)”). I didn’t know him,
But a few months after the soiree on Ninety-fifth Street I was at a party
In his studio on the Bowery, which was still his studio when he died.
The New York art world demimonde was there, including nearly everyone
Who’s turned up in this poem. I remember staring at a guy who
Looked like something from the Black Lagoon, dancing with a gorgeous
Woman half his age. That’s my New York: an island dream
Of personalities and evenings, nights where poetry was second nature
And their lives flowed through it and around it as it gave them life.
O brave new world (now old) that had such people in’t!
*     *     *
“The tiresome old man is telling us his life story.”
I guess I am, but that’s what poets do—not always
Quite as obviously as this, and usually more by indirection
And omission, but beneath the poetry lies the singular reality
And unreality of an individual life. I see it as a long,
Illuminated tunnel, lined with windows giving on the scenes outside—
On Ninety-fifth Street forty years ago. As life goes on
You start to get increasingly distracted by your own reflection
And the darkness gradually becoming visible at the end.
I try not to look too far ahead, but just to stay here—
Quick now, here, now, always—only something pulls me
Back (as they say) to the day, when poems were more like secrets,
With their own vernacular, and you could tell your friends
By who and what they read. And now John’s practically become
A national treasure, and whenever I look up I think I see him
Floating in the sky like the Cheshire Cat. I don’t know
What to make of it, but it makes me happy—like seeing Kenneth
Just before he died (“I’m going west John, I’m going west”)
In his apartment on a side street near Columbia, or remembering
Once again that warm spring night in nineteen sixty-six.
I like to think of them together once again, at the cocktail party
At the end of the mind, where I could blunder in and ruin it one last time.
Meanwhile, on a hillside in the driftless region to the west,
A few miles from the small town where The Straight Story ends,
I’m building a house on a meadow, if I’m permitted to return,
Behind a screen of trees above a lower meadow, with some apple trees
In which the fog collects on autumn afternoons, and a vista
Of an upland pasture without heaviness. I see myself
Sitting on the deck and sipping a martini, as I used to at Larre’s,
In a future that feels almost like a past I’m positive is there—
But where? I think my life is still all conversation,
Only now it’s with myself. I can see it continuing forever,
Even in my absence, as I close the windows and turn off the lights
And it begins to rain. And then we’re there together
In the house on the meadow, waiting for whatever’s left to come
In what’s become the near future—two versions of myself
And of the people that we knew, each one an other
To the other, yet both indelibly there: the twit of twenty
And the aging child of sixty-two, still separate
And searching in the night, listening through the night
To the noise of the rain and memories of rain
And evenings when we’d wander out into the Renaissance,
When I could see you and talk to you and it could still change;
And still there in the morning when the rain has stopped,
And the apples are all getting tinted in the cool light.

Source: Poetry (July/August 2009).

Remain calm, and speak well.

Be kind to yourself.  Be kind to the planet and the future.  Cause no suffering.  Go Vegan!

David!