“Well, um, little lady, what poem was you readin’?”I spit out my coffee the next morning, reading this response to, “I don’t know half the words he uses, but I understand everything he says." Never the less, the great, Vol Lindsey, author of ‘Sam an Epic Biker’ and so many more, took on the epic task, of teaching Millie Noe, how to write a poem. Not that I couldn’t already write a poem. Hells bells. Anybody can write a poem. I wrote this one in like a second.
The Accidental Acquaintance
I clicked a button on Facebook and then…
How do I know thee?
down in the corner, I read
Are you a writer? I typed
I’m a poet, from Nashville, it wrote.
Are you a poet? it said
Not a poet. I’m a writer, from Wisconsin, I wrote
And, an accidental acquaintance was hadAs you can see, I don’t really need any help. But, I’d started it. I was the Poet stalker. Why did I want to be friends with a poet? Well, for one, poets are smart. “What do you want me to write?” he asked. So, I, me, Millie Noe, handed out an assignment, to, I later learned, a teacher. Paybacks are a bitch. “Write about yourself and how we met,” I said. What better way is there to weed out your friends than to have them send in a resume? And then it arrived. I was spoiled in high school. The best kind of spoiled. Escambia County, Florida decided to pursue an experimental educational model and built W. J. Woodham, a comprehensive high school. The vision was handed to Mr. Greene, the principal , who was given the authority to hand pick his teachers, and a lot of leeway with the curriculum. Judging from his choices, he must have been something of an intellectual. Pensacola was noteworthy in another way as well; the high schools there were perennial state champions in every category. Especially PHS, and EHS. Band, football, basketball, all of them. For years. People would move to insure their kids were zoned to go to mighty Pensacola High School. At the time, I was a sophomore zoned for the new school, but they understood. They sent representatives to explain; They said “We get it. Considering the traditions here, we will not force you to go, but if you do, we will be teaching seven languages, college level chemistry, biology, advanced literature and history and guarantee you a spectacular education.” So everyone who went was a nerd, we did not know we were nerds, because we were all nerds. Well, he seems smart. And this is excellent news. I am fond of nerds. I love nerds. I am married to a nerd. In those days, everyone took the ACT and the SAT, but the big one in Florida was the Senior Placement Exam. Anyone who scored 180 out 500 was guaranteed acceptance at any state supported college or university. The average score of people who went on to graduate from UF or FSU or wherever, was 210. After two years there, I did not know anyone who made less than 400, and Norbert made an impossible 492, graduated early, and got a free, four year ride to the new Nova University. By the end of my junior year I had read from Socrates to Sartre, by graduation taken all those advanced classes in everything, and had the longest hair in school. In my senior year, my friends and I would audit philosophy and comparative religion classes at Pensacola Junior College for fun, then cross 9th Ave. to Tony’s Pizza and drink coffee for a couple hours while we reveled in the joy of our angst. Like I said, the best kind of spoiled. It seemed all my friends were brilliant, and earned my respect based on how much better than I they were at just about everything. (Especially math, I think I must have suffered some sort of brain injury at birth that scrambled all my math axons and neurons into a useless omelet.) To this day, I judge everyone I meet by the standard those friends set for me. Things are looking good. We both suffer from brain injuries. This will be helpful in building a relationship. Vol’s happened at birth. Mine was from a sledding accident. As a result, we suck at math. We share a common denominator. And that sounds pretty fucking mathematical. That is as mathematical as we will ever be. A message popped up from Vol, “Do you have Enya?” he wrote. “Is that music?” I typed. “Yes.” “No. Should I?” “Yes. Here is an exercise. Listen to ‘In Memory of Trees’, in the dark, with earphones, for thirty to forty minutes. Write down whatever comes to mind. Words or phrases. In the meantime, read as much Charles Bukowski as you can.” There is a dark side to this story, though. I’m still spoiled. Those whom I have met during the ensuing five decades who could have functioned comfortably with Claudia, Norbert, Adrienne, Joe, and a few others are rare indeed. My eyes, ears, and now, electronics, are constantly peeled for that next someone who can enjoy the unique kind of logic we compiled who sips beer and bourbon for the nuances of flavor, who are acquainted with Hemingway’s symbolism of impotency, and Benjy Compson’s point of view; who are terrified by the decline of American culture, and might have reached out for the wisdom of Camus’ absurdism, or at least have the wherewithal to do so if necessary. People who know that if you don’t leave tracks, you might as well have not passed through at all. This is good stuff. He sips beer and bourbon for the nuances of flavor. I drink beer and I sip on Jägermeister for the buzz. I think he would blend in splendidly at B.S. Club. But, holy crap! He just gave Millie Noe homework. And, by the sounds of what Vol had to say, she’d better not fuck it up, if we are going to be friends. I dug out the earphones that came with my IPhone and downloaded Enya. This accomplishment alone made me feel genius like. And in the next few days, I read poems by Charles Bukowski, like the planet would explode if I didn't and the only way to stop the destruction of our universe, was by reciting his shit. This work ethic is why Millie Noe was a straight A student. Okay, so I’m spoiled. But I’m also blessed. My constant search for higher, deeper stimuli, has been a response to having been befriended by people who are smarter than I am, more talented, more knowledgeable, better poets and writers, and generally better at everything I’ve ever attempted. They have, indeed, earned my respect. And also my love. In order to survive in that milieu, I have had to become a serious over achiever, because who does not want to hang around people such as these? Who would not want to impress them? I could not care less that I may be bald, ugly, clumsy, easily distracted, or the weirdest guy in the room, but I will not abide being called “stupid” because I would never want my friends to find out the truth. Vol, just because I was a straight A student, I would never call you stupid! Ever. “What, Louisa?” Okay fine. They weren't all A’s. There was that D, in, French. And that other D, in Algebra. And that one in Geometry. But otherwise, Millie aced every subject. My grades matched my bra size, which makes me glad that I was flat as a board. “What?” Okay, maybe I got a couple of B’s and that C. The letters moved in conjunction with 'the pill.' You see, birth control added a little meat to our bones and sizes to our cups. In my case, it filled out my A. Studies have revealed that it was the marijuana that was responsible for Americas declining grade point and bigger boobs in the seventies. But who can really say? The data was deemed inconclusive, since everything was happening to everybody, all at the same damn time. But, it sounds like Vol's studies were not affected by any of it. Whatever the case, wherever the party, whatever the subject, Mille Noe, took her homework, very seriously. And, since we seem to be back in school, how about a pop quiz? If you were to make plans to collaborate with a poet from Nashville, who you accidentally ran into online and he happens to be a guy, how would you tell your husband? A) Ask Sven if he thinks it is a good idea, first. B) Mention it to Sven nonchalantly, while Steve Stricker, is making a putt, on the golf channel. C) Don’t say anything. Sven never reads your shit. D) Ask Sven not to disturb you for a half an hour, because you have homework to do, before you go curling. I went with D. After I figured out how to get my downloaded Enya music to come through the earphones and I was all settled in, I found the task to be very relaxing. EVOCATIVE. I dare say, it was enjoyable. And, I would recommend this exercise to everybody. Especially those who do not care to exercise. I never even broke a sweat. It was however, a little difficult to write in the dark. In retrospect, perhaps Vol hadn’t meant, pitch black. When I turned on the lights my words on the legal pad, were all in one big pile. In the process of stumbling through life, shit happens, and some of it stinks. Like most of my relationships. I’m not really sure which it is, but I am either a genuine failure at love, or at choosing a wife. Out of my sixty-six years, I’ve been married forty-two… but three times. I ran all three of them off, not through any infidelity on my part, I’m not argumentative, an alcoholic, don’t use drugs, cuss only when necessary, and mostly at other drivers. So I don’t know. On the other hand, a lot of life smells like roses, like when someone comes along whom I want to include in my library of friends to follow, respect, and even revere, someone better than me. As an English/creative writing teacher, I had access to a rather steady supply of brilliant people who passed the tests, but they tend to move out and away, and fade into the fog of face book, Sigh. But there are also poets, and writers, and others who have wandered in to do as the door mouse recommended… feed my head… I look for them everywhere, because they too find joy and humor in their angst. Vol definitely gets a bonus point for being conservative with his cussing. On very rare occasions, during each and every day, I swear. And, if there is one thing that pisses Millie Noe off, it is when somebody else uses up all the bad language in the room. Because there needs to be balance in life. Just as there is good and there is evil. There is a teeter for every totter. There are also nice words and there are bad words. Too much of any one thing, all in one place, is just too fucking, much. A couple of months ago it happened again. There I was minding my business, vaguely dissatisfied and unmotivated, unchallenged by the tasks at hand...cleaning the litter boxes and vacuuming the new carpet the Persians we raise had gifted us with again this morning. So I sat down and signed in. The posts were nondescript, no messages, and who cares anyway? Oh wait… a friend request. Someone wanted me to like their page. Probably a another student from a hundred years ago who will take weeks to sort from the the foggy past. Millie? I have no memory of a Millie, and the last time I friended a woman I didn’t know, Jasmine, I think, it turned out to be a pretty little thing who was probably just looking for someone to give her money for clothes, ‘cause she didn’t seem to have any. Millie's profile picture was no help either, a photo created in “Paint” with squiggly yellow hair, and skinny legs. It was a humor blog! Who could say no to that? Vol just received the highest score possible. That last question he wrote, was a very good one. “Who could say no to that?” He was referring to me. Well, let me tell ya. So far, approximately, nine hundred and ninety-nine, point nine, nine, nine, bazillion people, have said, no. But who’s counting? Now, let’s get back to my Enya homework. “What am I supposed to do with this stack of words?” I typed to my creative writing teacher. “There are no rules,” he answers. "That's good," I wrote. "I hate rules." “First," he said, "I would suggest reading them out loud, as if they were poem.” My eyes widened, looking at the yellow legal pad of disaster. I wondered what the hell it even said. “You can do whatever you want with them. Use some. File some. See if they evoke anything. I like to think of something personal as I write. This is what gives a piece, life and a meaning." And then he sent his Enya Poem. [one_half] [/one_half] [one_half_last]
YESTERDAYWind gusts a blue butterfly Past the empty shore But Sylvia doesn’t care Her toes occupied with the prickley grass And soft soil along the riverbank. The past An empty house Around the curve of trees, Whispers little secrets But right now Her feet taste cool dapples In the water And the feel of moss On sandy rocks. A breeze picks up the edge Of her white sundress And tickles her ankle, Brings a spark To those vacant butterfly eyes On this late Sunday morning In April. [/one_half_last]
That was pretty good.I checked out stories like “Burnt Damn Hotel” and “The Black Hole” about her home town. There were a lot of them, and I read a few, but saved the rest to read aloud to Kimberly the next time we made a long drive. We laughed for a hundred miles that day. And I glanced upward to thank God that I had found a new friend to add to my pantheon. Now, we are planning a collaboration on various projects of which this is the first. I can’t possibly explain how good the timing, or how much I need this right now. Wow. Flattery is Millie Noe's heroin. Vol really didn't need to write this last paragraph. But, far be it for me to make any cuts. It's his story. And, with being a retired teacher and all, he knows about extra credit. So, let me get out my calculator and tally up his score.
Shazam!This is huge. It's a big number. This resume is definitely going on top of the ‘In’ pile. "Sven, have you seen my 'In' Stamper?" "Your what?" "My 'In' Stamper. And, why are you staring at me like that?" "I don't know what you are even talking about." "Never mind." Well, I have a shitload more of these to go through, but, I think I will save them for another day. There is no way there is going to be another one like this. From my perspective, our accidental, Facebook, friendship, is picture perfect.