Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fascicle of Amity: 18

I have sleep to do.
I have work to dream.
–Bill Knott (1940-2014)

’case it all gits outa hand
make yerself a mask ’n be sumthin
yer not
(who could not spell let alone talk)

It’s pleasant on Pleasant Street.
Besides, I love to walk,
go to the Jones Library
read in the Sir Francis Drake bar,

the one upstairs.
Downstairs I meet Charles and Mary
from Lowell: he’s black, she’s white,
they love their life. 

I walk over to Cronopios
where the book required, Cruelty
by Ai, “is selling like hotcakes.”
So I’m told. I’ll tell the students.

Next door, in the Quicksilver,
Tricia comes by for a kiss.
She asks me to go home,
it’s not a question or invitation.

I have pickled herring aplenty,
I say we can hit the mattress
and sup later. 
She says OK and doesn’t move.

I could go on. Patrick Johanson,
Paul Stevens, Lance Walker
of Amherst’s VVAW chapter, ask,
How was Korea? I answer, I was too young.

Lance was on the DMZ, with LLRP
(or LURP): Long Range Reconnaisance
Patrol over the De Militarized Zone
and into North Vietnam . . .

Johanson (of Saigon) works as bouncer
where Paul (from An Loc) is 86'd . . .
whereupon he got kicked bloody and bruised
in the cellar of the Drake

by a gang swearing he raped a woman
in ’nam, “Where were you?” Paul asked.
“What’d I look like? Why was she there?
How come you’re still alive?”

Paul cruises floors in town for lost money.
Johansen comes on duty. I leave with Tricia.
Night surrounds us. We have love to do,
I have work to make.

                            To the memory of il miglior fabbro
                            Adam Hammer (1948–1984),
                            who once roomed with Bill Knott
                            in Boston
                            –May the gods bless their old souls.

(25 March 2014)

copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander


  1. I've stopped, pretty much, commenting anywhere, but oh my, what a beautiful tribute to this floating world. Keep making the good work!

  2. Thanks, Joseph! "the floating world" . . . yes . . . perfect phrase for this setting, the Japanese would know . . . no? Your praise is mana for my aging soul.

  3. Just saw your reply, Floyce. Your soul isn't aging. Not at all. Do you know Wright Morris's wonderful novel A LIFE? (Wright Morris, one of the great geniuses of American fiction who is now, apparently, forgotten.) In the end, the 82-year-old protagonist Floyd Warner is dying, and Morris says of him, "Warner had been ... a good hunter, a killer only when necessary, a man who knew his own mind, kept his own counsel, and had lived in the manner he believed he had chosen, not knowing that he had been one of those chosen not merely to grow old, but to grow ripe." You are growing ripe, Floyce, and your poems are the evidence of it. Which makes me wonder: what happens to them beyond the blog? Are you assembling manuscripts right and left? You should be. The world may pass you by, as it seems to have passed Wright Morris by, but the Work is permanent, and the world almost always wises up eventually.

  4. Yes, amigo, I'm gathering and trying to mold one manuscript after the last, but after my new book, "The Grand Piano," now available for iPad--the best of several editions--from http://www.reddragonflypress.com/the-grand-piano-by-floyce-alexander-with-embedded-audio/. . . after that should come a longer book combining poetry with prose in a narrative form, tentatively called The Emery Wheel. Then, a book of poems inspired by, rather than attempting to depict, Diane Arbus's work. Then another narrative, poetry, set in primarily in New Orleans, called Adore (with an acute accent over the "e," the name of the central character; and after that, the same kind of narrative, set mostly in Seattle . . . and if I survive long enough, God knows how many other books I could make out of what I've written since October 2001, and from that alone . . . But thanks, Joe, for reminding me of Wright Morris and a book of his I don't know . . . not yet; Leon Howard, the Melville scholar I had the lucky to study with at the University of New Mexico, believed Morris was one of the most recent and completely unsung greats in American literature. I hadn't heard his name since; not until now. Your words are balm and prod and I can use both . . . thanks so much.