Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bobby's Note

[Here is a revised version of the title poem to my upcoming chapbook "This is My Wolverine." I'm still hammering this poem out, so I'm very open to criticism.]

Bobby is an awkward tall. 18 and armed with the kindness of a grandpa whose pockets are full of butterscotch. He is someone who thinks at the right depths, tells stories that never stray from the point but still manage to hop around like a frog being chased by a 5 year old.
Camp stories are a staple for him, most of them involve mischief or at least copious amounts of nudity, either way they keep my attention.

One his stories has a more somber tone. Every year the camp we worked at was invaded by Japanese students on a tour of the West Coast. They come to camp, ride motorbikes, play basketball, dance and sing. At the end of these weeks they write their counselors thank you notes. Most notes express how much fun they had at camp, but the note bobby received was different, more succinct; it said simply

"please, don't forget me."

Months after hearing this story I'm sitting between cobwebs and drunks in my basement listening to Ryler read poems over beer bongs and keg stands. He tells us what angels ought to be, screen doors fly, gorillas snatch up baby girls and people die of wonder: he is opening up his chest and going on the discovery channel. I get to watch. Metalheads in leatherjackets stumble by with Carlo Rossi. They don't get it. They leave.

Downtown legends are oral traditions in Bellingham. In dark basements the stories are past down. My favorites are the stories of Geronimo. He is somewhat of a local celebrity: homeless as far as anyone knows and social to the point of frustration. One day Geronimo found a dead raccoon. He paraded it through downtown explaining that he had hunted it down and killed it. Going up to different cafe's and dinners he would hold the carcass against the window and its bloody entrails all over screaming "THIS IS MY WOLVERINE! THIS IS MY WOLVERINE!"

Geronimo was letting people know: he was here. The smeared blood on the window was Geronimo's way of saying "Please, don't forget me". Poetry for me is just that. I putting me, out there. Letting you know that I was here and that this, THIS, is my wolverine.

Sometimes it doesn't work. Sometimes it’s a pile of uncomfortable disjointed thoughts. Sometimes I would rather do a thousand keg stands than write another word. But every time I come back, with each letter I write there is a part of me writing a simple note:

"please, don't forget me."

1 comment:

graham said...

I e-mailed you a slash-and-burn copy.