Dear Dispatches

Reading, again, Enzensberger who should quickly and readily sympathize with your living conditions, and snowblower, if the poems in The History of Clouds is any indication. He writes very well on the grand day by day and what is met, embraced, and the disappointments. I can’t think of a poet in our midsts who tackles what is coming before him with such relish. There is a bit of Berger to him as well. Refined and yet cross with the refinement and actually what he has put himself through. As Olson said once upon a time — he was uneducated at Harvard and re-educated at Black Mountain. I like any man who can look at his life straight up.

Today we get what amounts to a little reprieve in the temperatures: rising to about 40, but of course it comes with a foggy smoky rain. All the snow on the ground gets disgruntled with all the rain. It is more used to snowing for days, and heavy, and then blasting the region with a polar ice cap. That seems to fit into the scheme of things just perfectly. The snow stays where it is in full command, the river goes under a thick enough ice to skate on, and all the animals go into hibernation, except for the tiny mouse or chipmunks whose tracks I see lightly across my snow trek on snowshoes. My neighbors. The deer stay buried while it snows, then a day or two later you can find their trail leading on the best purchase of land. I used to make my initial snowshoe trails by following where and how the deer went. Later they used my tracks, padded well down into the snow, for themselves. It’s a trade off.

We have had over the winter all variety of con artists attempting to buy more expensive books and they have plodding and time consuming venues: one wanted all of Cid’s OF sent to the UK, a nice windfall for us, but it then became some weeks of negotiating payment and shipment and all an all because the guy was a conman playing his con. If they go through the usual book engines, like ABE or Alibris we have to be polite and work through the system with them, the very system they are wanting to con. It takes time, miserable time. Then there’s the woman who send a check for $900 written over to us but the book is 1/5 that, so send the book and the remaining cash back to her after we cash the check. Except the check is a fraud. But that doesn’t keep Miss impatient from writing us a slew of emails demanding the book be sent quickly, immediately, right-now! “Have you done it!?” They can’t be more obvious. What keeps them at this venture is what a bank teller later tells us — that people actually send the book off and then go to the bank with the check only to find out the check is bogus. All in the busyness of the day. When Mary Oliver passed away I thought I would use that poem of her’s I chose for the Birdhouse, one of the shorter ones, most complete, that got to the heart of the matter. She was aware of all the crushing popularity onto her and her work, it’s too bad it took a toll on the quality of the later work. About unreadable.

Bernstein and the Bollinger. Where’s the surprise? He’s been working for the honors all his life. It isn’t even poetry he writes. It’s thought pattern.

Carson and the family have been in the pits with sickness, flu and colds. They pass it one to the other, and either Carson brings it from his retail job, or Layla shleps it home from school. We well remember the times we went through the same sort of long sick winters with Carson coming home with every variety of snot plagued illness. It’s called community.

Quite happy with the new Terrance Hayes book on Etheridge Knight, a poet who always sang to me, often used his work in my classroom visits. Hayes does a crack-up job here on the subject and the overall blackness of poetry, bringing in many of the vital names and actually writing strong essays about each player. Not the usual whining and hem hawing about injustice and sexual politics and Black Lives Matter et al., which quickly sickens any poem. Knight wasn’t actually a sterling example of humanity as we both know, prone to habitual drug use, violence and shitty marriages which brought forth tremendous poems. I haven’t read much else by Hayes but I plan to dig a little deeper into his own poems.

Jonas Mekas now gone. One of the lights.

all’s well, Bob