Blogging for Harvey

I have not done any blogging in weeks, and I’m realizing that I’m taking blogging too seriously. Like when I get stuck sometimes in my poetry, I want all the words to be “seriously” perfect. I want to be a real “Poet,” and now I’m finding I’m wanting to be a real “Blogger.” So, hell, it’s now a month since my last blog. What kind of blogging is that, huh? Since that last blog entry Lee and I went to Bologna, Italy, for the children’s books rights fair that’s held there every year, I’ve diddled around with Cinco Puntos business, read three or four books and I’ve scribbled in my notebook. This last week I learned that my growing up friend Harvey Goldner is in the hospital. He had a tumor removed from his tongue, and in removing it the doctors removed most of his tongue. This is what his daughter Emily (her e-letters are so clear and straightforward, a satisfaction to read good writing even as the sadness surrounds her and her dad) wrote me in a letter:

He will get radiation in his mouth but no chemo right now. Apparently it takes time to see if cancer has spread to other part of the body…His tongue was reconstructed [they used muscle from the abdomen] but it won't feel or act like a tongue. He will get speech therapy and they are hoping he'll be able to eat food and speak again.

Hard stuff for a poet who fiddles with language by speaking words out loud. Hard stuff for anybody. I talked to Harvey the Sunday night before his Tuesday morning operation. He said he wasn’t afraid of death, but it’s the getting there, especially if the journey is going to be like this, that’s freaky. And afterwards he has to lie there in his bed without his cigarettes. Emily said they’ll stick a nicotine patch on him.

Harvey was born in January 1942, me in April of the same year. Our big sisters were best friends, so I’ve bet we’ve known each other from at least since the 3rd grade. He lived on Reese Street one block over from Prescott where I lived. We had a secret path that went through the backyards my house to his house. He gave me my first cigarette, a Camel. We smoked it in my bedroom. I got green sick but I loved the smoke.

Here’s a poem that Harvey sent me in announcing his operation. It’ll be in his book The Resurrection of Bert Ringold that Cinco Puntos will publish in October. I think I’ll go up to Seattle to deliver it to him. I’ve not seen Harvey in over 30 years. Shit. So get well, Harvey.

We Went Speeding, Memphis 1972

At first light, wild albino pigs in a pack
emerge from the forest and enter a field
(here and there, patches of mist) to feed
on ripening cantaloupes that they have

crushed with their feet. Full, they snooze,
and then the crows arrive, caw and feast.
Meanwhile the farmer, having fallen asleep
in the gentle rocking of an ancient book,

emerges from his dreams—a dark tangle of
fears—and he smokes a corncob pipe on his
dewy porch. His dewy bride, brain pregnant
with twin stuffies, Charlie Manson and Elvis

Presley, remains in the bed and masturbates,
hot twat rocking. Her vision: she rides on the
rippling back of a white stallion, Roy Orbison.
We cut classes and hotwire our History professor's

Maserati, cherry-red & topless, and we go speeding
through the Mississippi honeysuckle countryside,
the starlit kudzu night, drinking beers, tossing the
empty cans straight up—Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

1. If somebody reads this post to Harvey, tell him when he’s well enough I need to find out what the reference to “Emerson, Lake & Palmer” means. Are these names or places or what?
2. I doubt if Harvey ever got stuck in his poetry writing by wanting to be “a serious Poet.”
3. Many thanks to Seattle photographer Abbi Rodes who took Harvey’s portrait for the draft cover of Resurrection. We hope that this will be the final cover but the original image has been misplaced and we scanned this off a broadside. Our designer doesn’t think it will reduce down for the book cover.

1 comment:

max said...

Emerson, Lake & Palmer is the name of a progressive rock band