When Bobby moved in with Melindra again
she kept her job and he began to wonder
why he loved her if he couldn’t help her
pay for med school at the very least,
though she said he could make her happier
becoming famous. He liked that now no better
than then. Then he learned his original work
in poetry and prose was no compensation for
his lackluster class attendance. And he quit
and got a job washing dishes four hours a day
in the New Congress, eight hours if he wanted.
Now that was how being famous on clarinet
and singing and writing songs was achieved.
That way he could keep paying for his room,
La Iglesia de La Puta, where he kept writing
nights or days, whenever Melindra worked.
Nights rain fell he never saw Henrietta again
now that he knew where she lived in La Jolla.
But he wrote. He had read Keats. He could not
get out of his mind that phrase “until my pen
has gleaned my teeming brain.” Or the letters
about the poet looking out a window to become
the sparrow pecking in the gravel, “camelion
Poet” home from a Christmas mummers play
realizing his reading of Shakespeare revealed
“Negative Capability,” being able to function
“without any irritable reaching after fact
& reason,” insatiable need to be right or wrong,
and what was that if not a “vale of soul making”
where the word “genial” turned into “genius,”
as Katya had once said piecing them together
quicker than the Oxford English Dictionary.
Christina wanted him to sleep with her
and he tried but he was devoted to Melindra.
She could make a baby with some other stud.
He wrote a story about a guy who murdered
his beloved without killing her. She became
a more devoted addict than he. She never
died but lived and found a man about to die,
the greatest sax man and it wasn’t his music
so much as his love of her she fell in love
and married him for, only to find her love
of yesterday roaming the streets and so far
away he didn’t even remember her name.
That was how it ended. Like that. Murder
or suicide, he couldn’t decide on either.
He called it “Love and Death by the Sea.”
(12 December 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander