until it does change, he will drink his fill, thank you, and take home the woman last at his table and willing. One will have a dog and be part Iroquois; another will wear patchouli; another nothing: you wander with friends and wind up with her while they wander on and she saw your picture in Rolling Stone.
She says I can have whatever I want and as often as I wish, so I go up and down the stairs and then up again and down once more and up yet another climb only to descend again and I’m up and down all night long and she always parts the covers so I can get in.
Another’s just coming off a divorce and hasn’t been in a bar since when. She is beautiful in her plainness but unresponsive and to her dismay. Still another tried to calm my nerves the night my wife drove west, she said forever. This one I could not pry from wherever the heart harbors love that is always contingent. Need I go on, I asked the shrink, who said, No, I think I have enough.
Lowell near the end of his life put in a poem what the shrink said, "Why not say what happens?"
O’Hara was dead ten years and more by then, run down by a dune buggy crossing a roadway on Fire Island, hanging out with the nancy boys and look what it got him, his pal Ashbery going on until he shifted the sands of poetry to a world parallel to Lowell’s, the latter would never know,
and I, always "Leaving the Atocha Station" by now, listened to the honey blab wondering if the bee could understand . . .
I have taken to reading in old age the young Philip Roth and his early work ten years before fame struck him and set the pace of the metronome he still follows sixty years and forty novels later, having married and divorced a great actress who saw herself in the mirror of Ibsen’s Nora Helmer and left, as she said, "the doll’s house." From Goodbye, Columbus, then, to Nemesis, and if he weren’t so outre with the human body he would’ve already won the Nobel,
. . . so watch what you say, watch what you see, watch what you imagine, watch what memory does to you when the warm weather awaits the ice, the enormous weight of a lifetime hanging around your neck, and who knows how long you will be able to bear the weight? Wait, sleep, arise, write, love, leer, linger near the summer dresses with winter so near, and she’ll smile now, long since returned, more beautiful than any, ever. Once I was watching Brenda Patimkin as the author’s alter ego, Neil Klugman, was watching her, and then I was Mickey Sabbath, sixty-five and fucking for pleasure only, and in the graveyard was good, the outdoor air and no interruptions though you forgot there was an old man, usually, who walked his rounds nightly. Everywhere there is a reason to be watchful.
After the hospital you gradually transformed your life into theatre, like Goethe prophesied would happen two, three centuries up the unnamed, unmarked road that takes us all to somewhere else.
(9 October 2010)