As Yogi Berra once sagely said, i just had “Déjà vu” all over again.”
A lovely lady from my hometown, Sara Yahola, had made me feel great me by telling she was enjoying reading the poems in my book of poetry, A Pocket of Resistance: Selected Poems. She added a friend of hers had especially enjoyed “Git,” and “The Rain.”
Being vain when it comes to my writing, i took down my copy and read those two poems and a couple of more when i ran upon “Feelings.” There was some strange rumblings in my soul as it sounded recently familiar. i realized it had some similar feelings to “a curse upon me,” which i posted yesterday (i think it was yesterday: old age got me again).
i wrote this one in 1969, when i was confused even more so than now. Divorced after a short marriage, half-way through my three-year Navy commitment, and looking for love, not yet in all the wrong places which i would get to later in life, and generally out to have a good time.
But i was writing. i can’t remember when i wasn’t writing. i probably understood why more then than now. Then, i was going to finish my obligation, become a sports writer, become famous, and write the great American novel, or something. But i was recording my emotions, my thoughts, not really thinking about any of it getting published. Now, i write and hope folks will read what i write, and as Dave Carey once noted about his motivational speeches, take from my writing what works for them.
i would like to remember i wrote this on a day in May when i had spent the night at Hite McLean’s apartment just outside Newport, Rhode Island. Hite was in JAG school. i was the ASW officer on the USS Hawkins (DD-873). His apartment was on the coast above a cliff to the sea actually. That night, Hite and i had gone out to Mac’s Clam Shack on Thames and indulged in quahogs and a pitcher of beer. We came back to his place, talked over some Jack Daniels until late, and i, unusually wise for that stage of my life, decided to sleep on his couch. The next morning, it was New England spring raw when i walked out to the edge of the cliff, sat down with my legs hanging over the side and watched the foam of white waves crash against the craggy coast line while a light cold rain driven by the Atlantic wind drenched my face.
i remember thinking it was beautiful, perfect. A seacoast the way a seacoast should be. Thomas Hardy stuff.
i know that event happened. But as i wrote that memory i realized that wasn’t when i wrote the poem. It was while i was at OCS, 1968, right before i was commissioned. It was at Hurley’s, the rather off the beaten path, rhythm and blues and jazz club in the alley across from the tennis hall of fame where this wonderful jazz group played while an incredible voiced lady would sing “My Satin Doll” during a Sunday afternoon jam and i would ask again and again but this was not Sunday afternoon but Saturday night when the Fall River girls would arrive in large numbers to catch an officer candidate, which i later learned was called “hog call,” and later, was the inspiration for the movie “An Officer and a Gentleman” (alright, you aviators, it might have been a combination of Newport and Pensacola, and i avoided them most of the time by sitting at the bar asking again if they could play “My Satin Doll” while i nursed a Manhattan and wrote things on a scratch piece of paper. And i saved this one (Oh yeh, i smoked then. Chesterfield Kings. Unfiltered). As Bob Hope and Shirley Ross famously sang: “Thanks for the Memories.”
Snow is falling.
A quiet has fallen on the world.
Everyone wants to sit by the fire,
Feel its warmth.
But what it’s like to stand out in the cold,
feel the wind biting,
biting into the cheeks?
But the hurt is satisfying.
The room is big and empty;
There is nothing here
me and my emptiness;
There are people dancing to the loud music.
There are people laughing at the jokes that are not funny;
I can’t laugh because I know something.
The something is
I don’t know;
No one knows.
I can appreciate
A warm person,
The beauty of a snowfall,
The warmth of a fire,
A sky full of stars after a snow fall,
A good cigarette.