Thursday, March 31, 2011

Our Personal Hydes

No swimming in Clear Lake right now!
(Speaking of Jekylls and Hydes...)
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Dualities, dualities, in these Romantic poets:
what atavistic conception in us makes us make
Percy Shelley the Mr. Hyde to John Keats’s Jekyll?
True, Keats studied hard, seems to fit
Henry Jekyll’s benign-grind type; worked up
from the lower classes to be a veritable doctor;
and doctor us his poems do, in the spirit,
seat of our noblest hopes for health…

while Shelley looks bad, egotistical,
as thin as any one of the other Valkyries, all types,
all barbarian cardboard, put next to Brunnhilde:
an actor-out (versus Keats the looker-within);
atheist, if the term is accurate; rebel
archangel, or would-be, in politics;
shatterer of marital convention, and with it,
the lives of actual women…does his dark
ghost infuse the Hyde who kicked
small girls to the curb, then trampled them
for jolly? Yet who assumed Godwin’s debts
heaped atop his own? spent liberally in
social causes? invited Keats, in the darkest hour,
to stay with him in Italy? Who is this
Hyde, this Jekyll, this Percy-John lurking in

each single-occupancy human room, quite cramped
already with double beds and microwaves
and showers that squirt cold and hot as our ideals?
Come out from hiding, my personal Edward Hyde,
my custom-order Henry Jekyll, and explain
again, please, the two of you, just exactly
why I need you both…


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

you know him as Mr. Hyde,
the alter ego of beloved Dr. Jekyll,
began life as a kid on the NY streets
& in the subway where he travelled
the IRT line alone from the age of five
while his parents were following
their secret obsessions

when he was a baby in a pram
Mom thought him so ugly
she kept his face covered
as she walked him in Riverside Park

Mr Hyde was four years old
Mom farmed him out to a NJ nursery boarding school
& when she came to visit him several months later,
he didn’t recognize her; her pride was hurt;
she had thought she was one terrific mother

his grandmother had a big apartment on W. 112th St.
with a long corridor to the front door
she rolled quarters down this corridor
& sent her little monkey
Mr Hyde scurrying after the quarters
as she chanted his name sing-song

age 12 Mr. Hyde was scamming fellow students
out of their 25 cents lunch money
selling them chances punched from a card
this led to betting at the racetrack…
being a very smart guy, a bit of a wise guy full of con
(he sometimes worked for bookies & other mobsters)
Dr. Jekyll became a college professor
adored by his female students,
many of whom he bedded

when his tangled web of secrets came unraveled
he was fired—
Mr. Hyde now 82, a physical and mental wreck
you should see him...
his face


—Kevin Jones, Fair Oaks

As a camper, my father
Was sanguine, cheerful
Unflappable. Nothing
Seemed to upset him:
Lost in the woods,
Map was wrong;
Collapsed tent, bad
Pegs; unlightable fire,
It was the cheap matches.

It all changed
The night the raccoons
Tried to steal
Next morning’s coffee cake
From the camp icebox.

After he threw
Everything in the tent
That was loose,
He flung his
Wooden leg at them.

Didn’t work,
And my father
Went briefly,
Gibbering mad.
You might say
Hopping mad.

Of course,
My rolling laughter
From the floor
Of the tent
May have had
To do with it.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Anonymous (N. American Indian; 19th Century)

I think over again my small adventures,
My fears,
Those small ones that seemed so big,
For all the vital things
I had to get and to reach;
And yet there is only one great thing,
The only thing
To live to see the great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world.



Guardian-Deer at the Ukiah Cemetery
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis