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Love Among the Bins*

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Think, in this battered Caravanserai
Whose Portals are alternate Night and Day,
     How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
Abode his destined Hour, and went his way.
         -Fitzgerald

It was only a minute between bins (searching
     For the will I am to be the will that is Shakespeare),
Amid the critically grey patches of C.P. Snow
     And/or the redundantly anthological: Ancient American
British Byzantine Greek Modern Oriental Women World . . .

I was singing down bargain barrows and stalls,
     Intoning e.e. cummings, refraining A.A. Milne,
Reading stormy pages from Lear to hear the fear
     Of the real in his nonsense and the queer nonsense
Of the real in fools, kings, verses, hearses, pussies and owls…

But as if out of those untitled leaves of time,
     You came to sift the bins with crisp feminine whispers
That feather-fingered in litany down my spine,
     Searching for Early This, Late That, or Posthumous The Other
And the forgotten period allusions of Last Name Only:

“He is the most important of the Fitzgeralds,
     After all,” you declaimed ambiguously to Children.
Then, after hovering like a muse in Religion,
     You genuflected briefly at Travel. “He may have written
Something about Algiers and Alexandria, at that time, as well.”

You can what you’re able to do, O Lex
     Legendi! In pencil skirt and penciled eyes,
You index finger put to crimson lips collects
     By their purse the pebbled pearls of Demosthenes,
While other letters scatter, inspirited by your catalog

Of silence. Thus, overdue, my love was indexed:
     Like the frank contents in an earnest table;
The sincerely erotic in the merely episodic;
     The Dick Diver in my translation, the Calypso in yours;
Never again to leave this lovely, enchanted, bookmarked aisle.

*I tried to post this on Rufus McCain’s Facebook Page in honor of his being put in charge of the prison library and license plate pressings. Naturally, I made a hash of it – so hopefully he’ll see this and post it himself on his page…

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Selfie of the Self as a Self

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Epithalamium

For Alana and Patrick, May 31, 2014

Your dad could strum a chord for the groom’s ironic
Soul, pluck notes for the bride’s unbridled heart.
The river could rush inevitably down the cataracts,
With music of mountains and trees and love and hurt.
Quotidian mysteries could rise like bread in ovens
With alphabetic fingertips at work
Assaying life and life’s atomic leavens
Filamented against the blooming dark.
And pouring off of certain pages of the local
Paper could come the haunted words of unbound
Laughter smashing through the wall to tickle
Tattooed limbs with the music of the mind.
What could be is on the verge: the wedding knot
Is tied to the bridge and the strings are strung tonight.

Your dad’s guitar could play from heaven a psalm
Of David connecting stretched, refashioned strings
And bent blues turned into bliss’s home,
The hallelujah wrung from righted wrongs.
The sky could cry, the ground could disappear
Beneath your feet, only to expand in daylight
Revealing oceanic paths of freer
Joys than you imagined in the gnarled night.
And schooled physicians with their evidence of cures
Could wrestle with your intellects and find
Themselves at odds with your inner music’s tears
Turned into a gladness they can’t understand.
Undo the funeral dirge; the wedding knot
Is tied to the bridge and the strings are tuned tonight.

Your father played a song when you were in
The womb, with river running to the rhythm
Of ingrained momentum’s long and winding
Road that led to this day’s bridged chasm.
The tuning fork in the road reversed to blend
The bramble and rumble of muscled motor city
With virginal violins and warbling stands
Of Douglas fir—gritty and pretty in harmony.
And parsed-entangled visions of the future
Stretch across the threshold of the room
Where the end of May is perched on June’s shoulder,
And blessings shower down with tears from him.
Two melodies now merge—the wedding knot
Is tied to the bridge and the strings are strummed tonight.

My Daughter at Seven

When you were in the womb the
World was a perilous place.
The doctors were full of doubts
About you staying where you
Were, where you needed to be
To do the work of being
And becoming a person.

But you stubbornly stayed put,
Your mother remained calm, your
Sister and I observed the
Hours until you arrived —
A shock of black hair on your
Head, contentment on your face,
Dreams brewing in your dark eyes.

Summer was upon us and
The perils of the world turned
Soft as butter. Your sister
Looked after you with us and
Soon you were smiling, walking,
Talking, singing, doing all
That young and thriving souls will.

You loved baby dolls and soon
You had a few with cribs and
Cradles spread around your room
For lullabies and naptimes.
Hand-me-down princess dresses
From your sister turned the world
Into a magical place.

And when we went to Disney-
Land, you wore a different dress
Each day and demanded that
I fly you from ride to ride,
Which I was glad to do as
Best I could, to simulate
The proper mode of travel.

For you were light as feathers
And I was a gust of wind
Thrilled to lift you up and take
You places. You went to school,
Following your sister’s paths,
But carving your own unique
Grooves and stylings on the way.

Now you’re seven and it’s been
A breakthrough year — up, down,
Spinning all around — breakthrough!
Swimming, soccer, monkey bars,
Learning to ride a bike all
On your own. Ukulele!
Roller skates! How I love you.

Angel Three Oh

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-For Potter, somewhere six miles above Wisconsin

You traded angels for the altitude
That ventures guesses at horizon’s curve;
Exchanged the earth for nimbostratus cloud
Imbued with sherbet hues that ripple, carve
And veil existence. Dancing on the wing,
The sunlight spreads its own, a swan in song
Reminding you that destinations bring
Their own departures. Time and space belong
To speed, a fleeting moment’s vista, caught
On film, by minds afloat in fluted planes
And amber waves of whiskey. Not for naught
Do clocks and maps contract for cars and trains;
But flight elaborates with immanence
As man transcends his grounded transience.

The End of an Era

Jonathan Potter hosted his last Naked Lunch Break at the Riverpoint Campus of Eastern Washington University.

Triangulation at Its Best Part II

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The first (!) two-time Super Bowl winning coach of JOB’s team talking about the two-time Superbowl team from Webb/Potter/Jobe’s corner of the world in reference to one of if not The Most Painful Super Bowl Loss sustained by Lickona’s team:

“Here’s what impresses me about the Seattle defense,” Parcells says, “and it’s what impresses me about any top quality defense in this league: They keep things very simple. They rely on execution the way any good defensive team we ever had relied on execution. They’re not schematic. They’re not out there to fool you. They’re not one of those teams that’s gonna show up next Sunday and say, ‘OK, we’ve got three or four blitzes you’ve never seen before.’ That’s not who they are.

“It’s why this is such an interesting matchup to me, and just because it’s best offense against the best defense again. If it goes Denver’s way, they’re going to get up early and have that be their way of putting pressure on the defense. Seattle? They’ll just hang around a little bit the way they did against the 49ers, and then try to play the way they want to play.”

UPDATE: But of course, in this game, the gods of football will find a way to even keep greatness humble.

dream

A perhaps thirty-year-old Walker Percy (full head of brown hair) is standing on the grass of a public park on a fine summer’s day. The location could be Seattle or New Orleans or Heaven. A small audience of bookstore patrons and suchlike (including myself) is gathered. Cut to a newspaper article about Percy. From the text of the article, the Kiergegaard quotation that serves as epigraph to The Moviegoer jumps out at me, but it is formatted as a dictionary definition of despair. The original epigraph (as I recall it) has two numbered definitions, but here Percy (or the author of the article) has added a whimsically humorous third definition. Cut back to Walker standing there. He’s wearing a short-sleeved button-up shirt with a green cross-hatched weave, tucked in.

Walker introduces a semi-famous country singer who sits astride a bicycle (beach cruiser style) at the edge of the crowd and now commences to ride down the gentle grassy slope towards Walker. The country singer croons a couple of verses of a song that is loosely apropos to the occasion as he pedals in a wide arc around Walker. It is an odd spectacle, and Walker seems pleased but slightly abashed about it. He speaks to the audience for a short while and then concludes. The crowd disperses and Walker turns to walk away as well. It occurs to me I should say something to him while I have the chance, so I approach him from the side. Now he’s wearing a dark brown pullover and I grab the sleeve to get his attention.

“I just wanted to say your work has meant a lot to me,” I say.

“Well, all right.” Walker says, smiling cordially.

I let go of his sleeve. We both nod and smile and part ways.

I’m walking down the sidewalk away from the park. I burst into tears.

I wake up crying.

What The Korrektiv Did for Its October Vacation

Perhaps Percy’s most intriguing work, Lost in the Cosmos is a weird yet satisfying book – a hybrid of philosophical inquiry, satire, cultural analysis, multiple choice questions, thought experiments and (“What the hell, why not?” you can hear Percy say) even fiction. Perhaps the book most closely resembles Melville’s own loose but not-so-baggy monster, Moby Dick. But Lost in the Cosmos stands well on its own. The quality and quantity of presenters at the conference attested to its enduring worth—with more than 40 papers covering everything from liturgy to pornography to interstellar exploration to mimetic theory to Marshall McLuhan.

From Korrektiv’s Hirsute Hits of Haustralia Kollektion

This one goes out to all the Jonathan Potters of the world – Wear your grow and wear it proud!

H/T Number One Niece from Down Under Beth G.