M spent the weekend at the drafting table and I let it float by watching TV, mostly. A welcome change from the last few weekends made up of driving and entertaining. I swore I'd do a bit of work but only ended up writing a couple TI sheets.
This afternoon, Diego texted that he's going to be in Miami for Christmas. He and Danny are having a reunion show in Jupiter on the 27th. Whales and Reflexes, back together for the first time since . . . 2009?
He was asking for song requests, and I suggested Elvis and Hamish, since he'd have to really scream it and I always loved that. In search of an old recording I went plumbing through e-mails, and ended up mulling over a decade of intermittent correspondence. Diego would send me scratch versions of songs he just recorded, and I'd send back poems. Other times, I'd send a fresh poem right after I finished it, knowing he might not read it for a month given the remote farms he was working at in Peru or Ecuador. Shit, it was even hard to communicate with him when he was in Kentucky, or that biodynamic farm outside Sacramento. My first published poem was about how Diego was my trusted reader.
For Diego, Drinking Alone
Diego, no one is there but you
to remember that summer we spent
between your home in that broken down
school bus in Little Haiti and my bed,
sleeping side by side every night
like impoverished brothers. No one
knows how I cleaned the sheets every
Monday morning to wash away
the stench of animals you’d pressed
into them, how in Kentucky you
washed your clothes in a river
that could never make them clean.
By then I was in New York and you
whispered to me from a wired telephone
in a farmer’s library. The shrieking of bats
as you’d reach into the farthest shelves.
On the lower east side I kept a bed
with a girl who hated poetry. And so
it was to you that I read from that
small, humiliating room five stories
above the ground. Just as there was no one
but you to watch the cow go down with milk fever,
to band the goats, to feed the rooster,
to break the necks of the chickens
and deplume them. The Walkman
on your hip replaying Steiner’s lectures
on the creation of souls almost silently
as you moved across the barn. Though now
you drink on the far coast, alone and in secret,
it’s because you are a stranger
most of all to yourself. Alone with ourselves
just as we were then, turning over.