Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I had already graduated and gotten my B.A. in English.
I taught for one semester in a small Colorado town, but racial tensions in the school (parents were bringing guns to school and other violent acts were occurring) made me quit before the first semester was over.
I took my last pay check and used it to rent a one-room cottage in the mountains.

I read a lot, burned incense, and listened to Cat Stevens.

When my money ran out I worked on the back of a garbage truck.
It was hard work, but it paid well for only six hours of labor, and I usually finished by 1:00 P.M.

After a few months I retired and became a landscaper.

I moved out of my mountain retreat and rented a "garden" apartment in a three-story building that had two other apartments.

Directly above my apartment was a single mom who lived with her son.
She was an actress, and sometimes the ruckus got a little loud above, but most of the time it was pretty quiet.

Sandra and Gwendolyn shared an apartment on the third story.

I forget how I met both of them, but it was probably just some casual encounter.

Sandy was a theater/dance student, and I think Gwen was a psychology major.

Sandy was petite and thin.

Gwen had more meat on her bones.

Neither was beautiful, but neither was ugly either.

I flirted with both, but I called Sandy "my lady".
(Actually, I said "me lady", and made myself sound more English than American.)

I didn't love Sandra in Love's deepest sense, but I was fond of her.

I was wooing her, but to what end I did not know.

There was no physical attraction, infatuation, or lust.

Sandy’s skin color was turning orange from eating so many carrots.
She seemed to always have a carrot in her hand.
I guess she didn’t want to add too many ounces to her tiny torso.
I could have called her Bugs Bunny, but that thought never crossed my mind.

Gwen was more omnivorous and less fastidious about what she ate.
Her body was also more curvaceous.

I had just ended a relationship with a young woman, and so
I was in no hurry to jump back into the saddle.
Gwen and Sandy were my lady friends and not girlfriends.

This was the time when I had my cat Frieda.
Frieda spent a lot of her time ascending the apartment building’s wooden stairs to visit my friends on the third floor.
And so did I.
I always felt that I was being treated like royalty.
Sandy was a superb host.
She made me feel rich in both body and soul.

Sandy, Gwen and I went to Aspen one weekend (when the Aspen trees were spinning their golden leaves).
Sandy drove her blue Volvo.
We rented a motel room.
Gwen and Sandy slept in the only bed, and I slept on the floor.
I joked that I would sleep between them, but didn’t.

We went to hear B.B. King perform that night.
I walked up and stood beside the stage, and was only a few feet away from B.B. King.
But what had me mesmerized (besides King’s masterful guitar playing) was his harmonica player just an elbow away from where I stood.
And there he stood, his body swaying back and forth, his harmonica in his hands, which were also moving back and forth to his face, and the harmonica never quite getting to his mouth.
I wondered to myself, “Can he even play? He looks drunk.”I think he was intoxicated.
His mouth finally made contact with his harmonica.

After the concert, I took Sandy for rides on my back in the park.
And we played hide and seek.

Not much happened after our weekend excursion.
I saw Sandy and Gwen less and less.
Sandy was spending most of her time with a theater director.
I think his name was Michael.

I do remember my last goodbye to Sandy (or rather hers to me).
She simply said, “Take care of your heart.”
I have tried, Sandy, I have tried.Postscript:Two other memories:
Sandy gave me a beautiful print for my birthday which I keep next to my computer here at the high school where I teach.
It is called THE HINDOO MAIDEN. On the back of it is an excerpt from an e.e. cummings poem.
I gave Sandy the original of my poem called
It was written with purple ink from a fountain pen.
I hope she still has my poem.
I wish I knew where Sandy was today.

Baggy Pockets

The ocean roars like a mad god
Who has slammed a sandy door on man
The waves rush across my mind
And I look upon the
ocean floor:
Diamonds inside buried treasures from chests of
ancient lore.
A golden ring and a crown of a king
Inside a toy jukebox that makes me sing
A silk handkerchief once inside a pirate's pocket
Now beside a modern rocket
With Jesus' cross all rusted and cracked
Does Santa have a new one packed?
Skeletons of drunk Norsemen with their insane swords
Still shining and ready to use in today's cancerous wars
Sipping mead with a few Greek gods from the Peloponnesian war
And at Gawain's side sits young David, shaking on Goliath's shoulders
Looking at Columbus who has just landed for a second time
To come and take America back to the Indian's fort
But like Robin Hood in a TV commercial
Columbus sells his act for a profit
To keep making crazy rockets and keep filling baggy pockets
With silver, platinum, and gold.

 I wrote this poem in the early 70's when I was in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.


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