Hour 6–The Hesperus Wrecked

It was a tragedy.

She was the captain’s daughter. She was found in the dim surf tied to the mast of the wreckage. Her bosom was white and her long hair swirling. I was 12 and a boy and the bosom thing is mostly what I remember and she was dead. Her father had tried to save her and thus killed her.

And I was dying up in front of the class. Miss Hepburn as our English teacher had made us each memorize two thousand lines of poetry. We had to recite on command. Procrastinator, I, I faltered badly there in the surf with the captain’s daughter. I couldn’t rescue her or myself. I couldn’t remember the words.

As if I had a choice I chose the greater humiliation. I broke down and sobbed there at the blackboard. Miss Hepburn told me to take my seat. I did so sloppily. Relieved it was over, I cried quietly at my desk. My colleagues were embarrassed. They backed away. Fear of contagion. The whole school would hear.

It was a tragedy. It was my introduction to poetry.

 

 

Hour 4–Modern Age

looking up from my salad

four out of five people sitting at the next table

gazed at screens

cupped in hands

my cell phone rang

Hour 3–Small Fry

Dad wasn’t there that day

wouldn’t have been interested

so Mom filled the role gladly

did the dad-thing by

renting a row boat

she took us boys fishing

because boys needed to do things with worms and hooks and poles

and feel the thrust that oars made against water

it was a lake near a discount store with a highway going over

not exactly Nature

not exactly fish fish

sunfish

little ones

even smaller in the frying pan

 

Hour 2–Last Ride With Norm

I signed for him at a shiny table

she responded with a measured smile

transaction completed

I received a box

in a bag

the bag printed with the words “Nakamura Mortuary”

and a stylized logo of bending palm tree

a silhouette respectful yet appropriately tropical

my friend Norm in the box in the bag

ashes

wheelchair no longer required

I put him in the car

he rode shotgun as usual

seatbelt no longer required

I talked to him

I made a right to avoid traffic then a familiar street sign surprised me

I’d never seen the far end of his street

we went for a ride sightseeing on Nakoa Drive

unfamiliar faces watched us

I paused in front of his house the same but not

today the empty house was overexposed like an aging photograph

Norm would not live there now

he was gone yet with me on the passenger seat

“One last look.” I patted the box

the For Sale sign was still there

lawn still dead

the ruthless driveway now benign

“I love you, Brother” is all I could think to say

Hour 1–Disclaimer

“Professional driver, closed course, do not attempt.” You know you want this car. You know you want to ease your model-like lank into this techno-womb and feel satin controls against your skin. Of course, it’s nighttime, and cool gleam surrounds you. The machine itself creates its own benevolent shine as pavement streams past effortlessly. Have you noticed no other cars on the road? Yes, you know that’s how you want it. Finally, you’re free. Free to unleash all the power within you. You’re a success and this is your reward. The accelerator cups your shoe. You whip the wheel and make impossible turns.

Sorry. Not allowed. See, this is a closed course. Probably non-existent. CGI, no doubt. And you’re not a professional driver. We know you floss while driving, drop condiments on the floor, sweat against upholstery. By now you know the drill, right? It’s a commercial. You’re being seduced. We want you to buy the car. The capabilities of the car? Not for you. You don’t get to experience them. Come on, look at what that driver is doing. Clearly illegal.

But think how irresistible you’ll look driving this car. Abiding the law. Making payments. Total control.

 

 

 

June 11

Feeling the need to test this thing again. Anxious and confident; confident about completing the marathon, anxious that what I write won’t be crap. It begins 28 hours from now. Not in this alone; my life partner Cindy Albers is also doing the 24 hour marathon. Hoping this headache doesn’t cling all weekend.

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