I am thinking what to include in an Advance Directive. Pulling the plug on a manuscript of poems and short stories = pulling the plug of life support.
Father’s Day weekend:
My son sits on my lap watching the last 15 minutes of Toy Story 3. Our heroes have escaped Sunnyside Daycare only to be trucked to the vast wasteland of the city dump and emptied onto a conveyor belt descending towards the non-recyclables incinerator. The toys stop struggling from the chipped garbage quagmire drawn closer to a solar center, a fact of gravity, and hold hands, embrace, tacit, living the mantra unto death, that it is better to stay together than be separated.
The Subterranean Arthouse, the night before, after reading poetry, Will Alexander played solo piano, “Hummingbirds and Solar Flowers,” “On Manchu and Indian,” and “The First Blazes.” I recalled my middle bird, produced in a workshop I took with him at Mills College, but later dropped after two sessions. A first lesson is a first impression, was all the flight lessons I needed, and so I flew.
At this moment, my son buries his face into my chest for the second time. The first: when the film pays homage to Stephen King. Homage is a kind of recycling—a reconstitution of mentors or classics for the next generation. Care Bears and Teddy Ruxpin, move aside, Lotso is the next big plush. Pink is the new terror.
My son wants to go home, the cauldron roar muting his request. Yes, the inferno is deafening. How can Virgil hear himself? I tell him to hold my hand and we’ll watch together. The father in me plots, hoping for resolution, anticipating a “happy ever after,” at the same time wording the eulogy I would give to my son, why these toys “died.” How to you explain death to a five-year old? In the manner that there are no atheists in foxholes?
The theatre quiets. The parents stunned. The children whimpering. The toys staring at their own compulsory consumption provides a meditative lesson dealing with imminent mortality, especially when we are all mass produced, or how we can never escape manufactured obsolescence, each life a small drop in the abyss, and no phoenix-afterlife. Then the foreshadowed teleportation from the beginning of the film is realized. Instead of an alien abduction, a rescue. Pizza Planet triplets release “the Claw” and lift our wayward protagonists from the inferno, and lift my son and me from our seats.
My son releases his grasp on my shirt, sits up from my lap, brave again, and screams with the other children in relief. And the parents? Did they whisper?
Batter my heart, three-person’d God; for you
As yet but knock; breath, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
(John Donne’s “Holy Sonnet 14”)?
Batter my heart Pixar, Disney’s own fifth column, for renewing my faith in miracles, rather in the intervention of little green men. Not all Visitors have an avowed taste for mayhem. So how do I hail lifeboats on Craigslist, Chronicles of Higher Learning, or HERC? What is my Exit Strategy? If no job found? Too many resumes have been cast into the litter.
Father’s Day Weekend, the morning earlier:
Cameroon and Denmark 1-2
Italy and New Zealand. 1-1
Brazil and Ivory Coast 3-1
I am sharing these matches with a sports literate son. He studies the goalie’s postured, the crouch, gloved hand punching ball out of play, heading off the header, keeping the score 0… until. I assuage his emotion; it is okay to cry over a passed ball. He will know it is okay when each game ends, the players on both side tearful for advancing and tearful for going home prematurely. The moment is equal to 2004 World Series and 1994 World Cup. My son was born after the first game, Red Sox 11 to Cardinals 9. I read the Sunday Sports Page to him, and when he was released from the hospital, I made sure he didn’t miss game 2, 3, or 4! Though tears were for him, his safe passage. In regards to Univision’s vision of futbol, I spent my weekends of Temporary Duty in Virginia Beach watching most of the World Cup in a pizzeria on Atlantic Avenue (a sailor’s haven) across from where the Peppermint used to be. Aye Ace Frehley for not wearing a face. Admittedly it was the air conditioning and the owner’s pretty daughters, the vehicle for soccer to my heart. Go Holland!
Father’s Day Weekend:
Explaining why we don’t go to the beach as often, or enter the water, even when there are people on the beach to demonstrate there is no threat to health, I finally complete the BP Deep Horizon catastrophe-inspired, three-week long project with my son “Day Before the Spill: a Pantoum,” a 3-minute iMovie voice-over video poem to be posted on YouTube in which he provides narration (as well as learn how to edit audio) of a series of photographs taken at Crown Memorial State Beach after the Dubai Star bunker oil spill last November.
Day Before the Oil Spill: a Pantoum
From my Barrier island
I see fog shudder the city by the bay.
Time to prepare
when cold announces
shoulders of towers,
mystery beneath bridges,
figure the blind no misgivings.
Until the arrival,
there’s time to play
the aloof shore tracks unstained
the ma-linger-ring Under Current
but the man in black,
suited for sand,
surveys no Mis-Givings.
What is sustainable? Sand or misgivings?
End of winter trucks new sand,
from rivers upstream
or century old dunes.
but the man in black
in his Business District, prohibits:
Roller Blades / Skateboards
Riding Bicycles on Sidewalk
Strictly Enforced to un-sus-tain youth.
The day after the spill, nothing changes.
The globe warms and the icepack melts.
The icepack melts and the sea rises.
The sea rises and we need new sand.
The man in black looks for skimmers.
Did he write the beach advisory?
What are tarballs and how do they form?
Tarballs are little, dark colored pieces of
oil found on the beach.
These are remnants of oil spills
that have weathered in the water.
While some tarballs may be large
most are coin sized.
They can be quite gooey and sticky
so try to avoid stepping on them.
If contact occurs,
wash the area with soap and water.
Tarballs are very persistent
in the marine environment
and can occur for months or even years
after the initial oil spill.
Until we sustain the beach of my barrier island.
I will be with Dixie.
I like green apples. She dislikes red apples.
But we agree: Beach Advisory and tar balls:
They’re a pile of horse picky!
In the Fabric Gallery bathtub,
Green and Red koi sus-tain themselves.
Where is the sand in my porcelain world?
Where are the remnants of oil spills?
Here? But who will prohibit the persistent pucky?
Gooey and Sticky.
Where is the suited man?
Can we avoid the spill?
Only in a porcelain world?
Tar balls have blind misgivings
Imagine themselves not on my hands.
Imagine no day after the spill.
The sea is no mystery beneath my legs.
How tactile is an online artifact? Unless paved with words:
pantoum: an eternal recurrence with an artificial ending
malinger: stains on the coffeehouse table beneath lacquer
sustainable: breathing room
persistent: after so much stalking you get your way
porcelain: resistance to pucky is not futile
rhetoric: noisy eternal recurrence
Enunciation: electronic eavesdropping
elision: the smooth wave of rough seas?
Words are like death.
Father’s Day Weekend:
Reacts like Christmas and Birthday for my son receives “you’re not a kindergartner anymore / you’re a first grader now” promotion gifts, three more Poetry For Young People volumes: “Edward Lear,” “Edna St. Vincent Millay,” and “Rudyard Kipling.” If I can write and publish an homage of the marriage of Lear and Kipling, and why not for polyamory, Millay, then I think I’d be content: “When the prophets are naughty and young,” lectured the Duck to the Kangaroo, their tea excessively dark lightened by the urgent snow with the cheerful smile, “Mandalay celebrates the Death of Autumn!”
I cannot remember a Father’s Day with my Father. Hence the artifacts, the vocabulary, the poetic structure, the soccer schedule, the buttered popcorn residue on tickets stubs, the sound bites, Orphic crumbs through the barreling torpor. I do not want to be forgotten.
But if I am to publish or die, then where is my Claw? My alien resuscitation?
To see the video poem, “Day Before the Spill: a Pantoum,” follow this URL .