Rain Again, Datebook, Andy Kaufman Was a Friend of Mine

 

How ‘bout a roadtrip? Just head down the highway. We could partner up

& drive the diamond lane. We could Kerouac across the country.

 

And so Patti Smith set out for New York City

With a Bob Dylan songbook & a guitar named Bo.

 

It’s raining in Wuthering Heights. It’s raining here too. Linton sucks

A sugar stick. I close the book. Rain stops. Open the book. Rain again.

 

The evening sky ribbed pink like

The roof of the mouth of a yawning cat.

 

I remember the week Larry Levis died, & I said, Now he can

Talk to the dead. And Caroline said, He’s been doing that all his life.

 

*

 

Earl Weaver, Baltimore Orioles skipper & quantum physicist, said,

Every thing changes everything; every thing is caused by everything else.

 

One of Elizabeth Bishop’s favorite books was Soap Bubbles by

Sir C.V. Boys, 1889. Their Colours & the Forces Which Mold Them.

 

In his datebook, for the day he jumped into the Seine

& drowned, Paul Celan wrote, Depart Paul
 

Any moment things can go otherwise. Earl Weaver knew.

A single pitch, called a ball or strike, could change the entire game.

 

If you go back in time, say to your house in 1999, do not rearrange

The furniture, unless you want some very big changes in the future.

 

*

 

Andy Kaufman was a friend of mine. About once

Every two years, arises an occasion for me to say this.

 

I went to the Memphis Zoo on a Sunday. The pandas were taking

The day off. A chimpanzee tossed his feces at the crowd.

 

Last words from Bill Knott: All of us who lived on earth & all

Our love & wars may not appear in the moon’s memoirs.

 

This could be the penultimate couplet

In the book I have not yet written.

 

July 2020. This odd even-numbered year is half-over. 

Year that seems to rush toward us in slow-motion.

Windmill, Tangled  Blue, Too-Ra-Loo


 

All the sisters lay dreaming of horses, is not

The first line of National Velvet. But should be.

 

If Shakespeare & poet Charles Simic & I had been in 3rd grade

Together, we would have been seated near each other & been friends.

 

Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is like Dr. Seuss for adults; thus,

Green Eggs and Ham & The Cat in the Hat is like Beckett for kids.

 

Driving through the Spanish countryside, I can’t see

A windmill without thinking of Don Quixote.

 

In the field of red clover the fuzzy bumblebees

Hover & hum like plump Buddhist monks.

 

*

 

As Dr. Seuss reminds us, From here to there, funny things are 

Everywhere. Billy Shakespeare, Charlie Simic, & me.

 

For the Halloween costume party, I festooned myself

In a skein of blue yarn & went as a Bob Dylan song.

 

As happy as Truman Capote on his birthday, 1949, driving

Down a Paris street & flinging roses to pedestrians.
 

At a party, my friend watches her ex, flirt with a woman.

Same play, different actress, she says dryly.

 

Don’t tell anyone how lonely you are, especially yourself.

I was as lonely as Franz Kafka, wrote Franz Kafka.

 

*

 

Driving in breezy Andalucía, where bulls are bred to fight matadors,

You’ll notice there are no red curtains in the hacienda windows.

 

A scientist asked to name her favorite element, said, Surprise.   

The oceanographer, her favorite body of water? said, Marie.                                               

 

When I hear the exhilarating song, “Come On Eileen,”

By Dexy’s Midnight Runners, I drop all pretense and sing.

 

We watch the evening sun go down, a pink tinge in the clouds.

The blush of rosé wine, I say. The rouge on the face of a corpse, she says.

 

All the broken-hearted prophets are eating leavened bread.

Too-ra-loo-ra, too-ra-loo-rye, ay.

Gary Short lives near Lago Atitlan, Guatemala, where three volcanoes hold up the enormous sky. He is the author of three books of poems and has received an NEA Fellowship, a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford, and a Pushcart Prize. The London-based band Wovoka Gentle take their name from the titles of two of his poems. Andy Kaufman was a friend of his.

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