—Poems by David Wright, Sacramento, CA
—Today's Photos are by Stacey Jaclyn Morgan, Fair Oaks, CA
Seventeen and I left home, had to get out of there.
Thumbed my way to California.
Found myself sleeping by the Sacramento River.
Found a gym, and after
Popping the leather bag so it cracked like rifle shots (to my ears),
Some clown hired me to tomato-can for his new prospect.
My father covered boxing for the Globe, and I had grown up in gyms.
A killer straight right was all I had.
My jab was fair, but with short arms it wasn't much.
No quick feet, no grace, just a good straight right.
That was about it.
"You always have a puncher's chance,” they'd say.
Whenever you hear that, bet on the other guy.
Well, he caught me with a left in the third which left me sprawled on the canvas.
Hell, I could have staggered up, but there was no point and I took a coward's count.
"Ten", and it was fate.
Next day I found a room in a boarding house, 22nd & V; two meals a day and the tiny room.
"What happened to your face?" the landlady asked.
Next morning, starving, I hurried to breakfast and feasted on eggs, ham, toast and jelly.
Washed it down with OJ and big cups of coffee.
Life was looking up.
I asked for a bag of ice and laid there on my bed digesting and healing.
Ice bag over the egg-sized knot on my forehead.
For the first few days I just hung out in the room, resting.
Once recouped, I began to explore mid-town Sacramento, 1975.
I found a little library on 23rd and started pulling down books.
Found Steppenwolf by Hesse.
The start of a journey.
It's not that I don't still enjoy the
Stormy day, the wind and rain, the bright sun
Challenged by dark clouds.
It's just not so magical anymore.
And I still go out and walk in the fog whenever I can, but this too is not some
Mystical flight, not like, say, that walk up 21st Street in the fog on my
Nineteenth birthday, staggering arm in arm with Peggy, out
Third bottle of wine, and we pick up a
Used album from the store on P Street.
Blasting "Like a Rolling Stone" in her rooming house, the cops called and they're
Pounding, pounding, pounding on the door, I scream "Go fuck yourselves."
No, there's no magic like that anymore.
Making money from the OUTSIDE and if not rich yet at least I'm free.
Happy to let others work for it.
Happy to let others wear ties.
Let others endure maladroit managers. She,
I swear, used to just about hit her stop watch whenever I went to pee.
Stupid and dull, but the bosses listened to her, they had paid for her
Office Manager seminars, and she looked cute for them in her little sailor outfit.
Don't be personal unless it's metaphorical of the human condition, and
Don't use clichés (such as) don't be "a one trick pony." My only trick is
Nailing down the lines as brutally honest as a
Punch to the mouth. Remember, an
Honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.
(You may prefer a handshake)
Not merely less contrived, but not contrived at all.
A kind of writing that just flows, unkempt, free,
Vital (and with apologies to Dylan Thomas) without guile.
While you drive to the store for snail poison, I strut out and stomp them dead.
(You may prefer elegance.)
A poet's value now is his heart & guts,
The writings are just splattered sweat and blood,
Residue of the fight.
(You may prefer artisans.)
They invited me to play some hoops and enjoy some
Ghetto Punch. Ripple and Old English in a bucket of ice.
The first cup was sickening.
The seventh nice.
The next morning I couldn't remember who won the game, or
How I got the black eye.
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
—Medusa, with many thanks to David Wright for today’s fine poetry, and to Stacey Jaclyn Morgan for her intriguing photos!
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