Tag Archives: boken love affair

Footnote to the Revolution

Footnote to the Revolution

The red clay from the cane field in your hair,
leaves pressed into my neck from lying in the tall stalks,
we heard in the trees
the movements of the shepherd
who had watched.
Later, at the Filowaha baths,
we washed ourselves from each other
and slept in a room
rattled
by the eucalyptus.
I would have wanted you more in that room
if I’d known about the bullet
already starting its trajectory through the minds
of men spending youth fresher than ours
in revolution.
I remember watching your shave
in the lobby barber shop,
your face mummied by the steaming towels.
I tasted bay rum afterwards
as we shared cappuccino.
Parked at the roadside near enough to hear our parting,
I imagine they drank katikala,
its bite sealing brotherhood
your blood would buy in the street
outside the Filowaha baths.

 

 

 

 

In 1973-74, I journeyed to and lived in Ethiopia. It was not my original intention to do any more than visit and pass through, but fate had a different plan in mind. I was first detained by violence, then by love. The Filowaha baths in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, were probably the equivalent of the “No Tell Motels” in Mexico, but for Andy and me, they were a place to be alone, to soak in hot water together and to make love with no listening ears. I guess that is what they were to everyone who visited, but there was nothing illicit in our relationship. We were both single and in what at the beginning we thought was a committed relationship that would end in marriage. His family had accepted this. My parents, thousands of miles away, had long ago given me the message that they did not want to know anything that, as my mother had stated, “would make them feel bad.” My sister knew, but they never did.

This poem actually chronicles two different visits to the Filowaha baths–one near the beginning of our relationship and the other our last night before I departed to fly back to the United States. On this second visit, we both knew we would probably never see each other again. Once again, we had figured out that the relationship wasn’t going to work, and our own feelings were complicated by the revolution that was already raging around us. We had both just spent a month in the hospital–Andu Alem recovering from the bullet that had gone all the way through his body as he defended me from a man whose intention was to kill me. Not able to return to my house, I had stayed in the hospital with him so we could both be guarded by his father’s soldiers.

Years later, when I made my first assemblage boxes, I made this music box that told the story I’d already told in the poem years before. The song it plays is “The Way We Were.” I’m now trying to tell the story a third time in a book. Now that I know the true ending to our story, I might have changed the poem, but I leave it as I once thought it was. There are many truths in our lives, according to which vantage point we are telling them from.  This story is as true as the very different story I will eventually tell, if I have the courage to face up to it. Please enlarge the photos go see the details which should be self-explanatory. The hand I sculpted out of clay. I photographed the assemblage box on the table where I had been rereading letters I’d written home from Ethiopia as well as letters Andu Alem and other friends living in Ethiopia had written me once I returned to the states.

Mismatched

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Mismatched

You seem to dwell, dear, in the main
securely down in the inane.
If only you could just refrain
from loudly voicing your disdain.
Astrology you find a pain,
consider ESP insane,
while astral travel is the bane
of your existence and you’re fain
to scratch your head and shake your mane,
swearing you’ll open a vein
if I don’t try to put a rein
on my attempts to reach you where
you constantly refuse to fare.
Meditation’s out with you,
and you’ll have nothing to do
with Ouija boards or the I Ching.
You do not “Ohm” or chant or sing
to anyone or anything.
In short, you’re firmly planted here
on the earth, so dour and drear.
While my mind dwells in the stars,
yours hangs out in lowlife bars.
This love match has not scored a win.

Match.Com has erred again.
And so, my dear, ta-ta, adieu.
I guess I’m breaking up with you.
I fear that I have tried in vain
to find you on the astral plane.

The prompt today is astral.

Racing Man

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Racing Man

I’ve parked you in my dreams
where you sit sputtering,
engine racing,
ready to be off
over the next hill.
As always,
reaching to release the parking brake,
adjusting the seat back,
never noticing the rear-vision mirror
is slightly off-kilter.

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Snapped!

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I can’t believe that I’m actually going to tell you the story associated with this picture, but here goes! Most of you know the story of how I decided to move to Mexico for a year with my husband, who was very reluctant to spend even a few weeks in Mexico, let alone an entire year!  When he got here and got adjusted, however, it was he who started agitating to buy a house, with the end result pictured here–a house on the side of a mountain above Lake Chapala. The problem was, that shortly after we bought the house and before we could move into it, he passed away.

I moved to Mexico, but memories of Bob moved with me and it was as though he was inhabiting more of the house than the small shrine I constructed in his memory in the entrance hall.  For seven years, I just felt married.  I think I dealt with the loss of him well.  For those seven years, I journaled most days, wrote a book and numerous poems about dealing with the loss of a loved one and other aspects of moving to a foreign country. The thing is, that my heart didn’t go along with my head and in spite of everything, I felt married.

A part of this may have been that I just didn’t meet anyone who triggered that first automatic response that Bob had.  The minute I’d set eyes on him, I suspected he was “the” one. Once I’d heard him read his poetry, I knew he was.  But Bob was gone.  Had been for seven years, and I decided it was time to go about trying to meet someone else.  I joined Match.com and in a year found not one person I wanted to meet, let alone anyone who wanted to meet me.

Then a friend told me about OkCupid and within 24 hours, I had met a number of people I was interested in and the response indicated that they felt the same way.  But Mexico is a long way from the states and the obligation associated with having someone come all this distance made me reticent about encouraging visits.  I wrote to a number of people, and then Jerry came along.

Although we were very different in some ways, our communication was conducted on a more intimate level than any of my other conversations.  We seemed to get to the meat of ourselves and I was intrigued.  He was the first person who made me start to feel romantic again in the way my heart had turned over when I met Bob.  I was due to give a talk at a local lecture series and it might be an indication of how my life was quickly transitioning if I admit to you that the night before I gave a 45 minute speech on Bob’s death and overcoming grief, I stayed up all night taking to Jerry.  That morning, after only one hour of sleep, I gave my talk about Bob and overcoming his loss, but it was Jerry I was thinking about.  That quickly, I had gone on to a stage unmentioned in my talk.  I no longer felt married.

Our long conversations on Skype turned  sensual–not in a cyber sex sense, but in a romantic sense.  When we met, what would the setting be?  What would I be wearing?  What would he be wearing?  What would our first words be?  We constructed romantic dialogues–and this writing was a new and exciting experience for him.  He began to paint again–something he hadn’t done in years–and attributed this new interest in writing and the rebirth of his artistic life to me.

Within a few months, he had decided to fly to Mexico for a 4 day weekend. I’d meet him at the plane.  This was very different from our initial resolve to meet at a location other than one of our homes.  We had envisualized meeting at a beach resort.  I would be sitting at a table with my back to the door.  He would enter and recognize me immediately.  He’d come up to me and kiss the back of my neck.  Then he’d sit at the table and the tension would build as we had margaritas and dinner, a walk on the beach, and. . . .  Who knew what it would lead to?

What would I be wearing?  His choice was a full Mexican skirt and an off-the-shoulder peasant blouse.  Sandals.  He’d be wearing a Hawaiian shirt and Levis or shorts and huaraches or sandals.

When I first heard word that he was coming in a few weeks, my sister and her friend were visiting me in Mexico.  I finally revealed to them the details of my cyber romance and they threw themselves into the task of helping me to find the right wardrobe for our meeting.  It was fun combing the shops for a full skirt.  The peasant blouse was another matter, but we finally found it. They were complicit in my plans–nothing short of a romance comic book come to life.  They left.  Jerry’s arrival was that night.

Unfortunately, in the time between my shopping spree and Jerry’s evening arrival, the weather had turned cold.  As I stood at the airport reading the notice that the plane would be delayed by two hours, I shivered in my skimpy gauzy clothing and sandals. Around me were Mexican citizens in their Levis, Reboks and down jackets.  I was seemingly the only senorita in sight and I was cold!  I went into the warmest spot I could find–a restaurant on the second floor–and asked to borrow a tablecloth to wear as a shawl as I ordered coffee, then soup. Anything to get warm!!! Yes, I felt foolish.

As I waited, I thought of what I knew about him.  I knew he had 4 more years until retirement and that he had saved up enough air miles to travel around the world for a year. He had asked me to go with him, saying he had enough miles for two.  He loved Mexico and wanted to retire here.  He’d been married but had no children. He didn’t drink, except on vacation. He was going to quit smoking, but couldn’t until after we’d met–the tension was too great in the interim. He was trying to lose weight. His favorite food was flan. (I had three different varieties of flan awaiting him in my refrigerator: my mother’s recipe, a killer variety cooked by a friend who was a chef and a diet variety.)

Then, finally, the plane was announced.  I took the elevator down to the first level, stood by the railing watching person after person come out of the doors of customs and scan the crowd.  I was looking for the athletic handsome man pictured in his OK Cupid profile.  Person after person passed.  Then, when I’d about given up hope, a chubby man with a  foolish sort of grin came down the “runway” stumbling just a bit.  Weaving just a bit.  He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt.  Could it be?  When he caught sight of me, his grin widened.  At the end of the runway, he caught me in a big hug and a brief kiss.

Even in that brief kiss, I could tell he’d been drinking.  His erratic walk told me he’d been drinking quite a bit.  It turned out that during the 2 hour delay, the airline had offered free drinks to everyone, and it had been a shame not to make full use of the offer. I could understand this.  The conversation on the 45 minute drive home was fine and half way home, he asked me to pull over for a full embrace.  Again, my hopes soared.

That night was as romantic as I might have wished. When we arrived at my house, he put his suitcase in the spare room.  No pressure, he said.  I appreciated this. Loved it, in fact.  We ate.  We danced for hours.  Talked.  Kissed.  He did not use the spare room for anything other than a repository for his suitcase.  It was one of the most romantic nights of my life and the fact that I’d been waiting for it for seven years did nothing to dispel its effect.

The next morning, we slept in.  Or, at least, I slept in.  When I woke up, he was already in the kitchen making breakfast.  We ate on the patio.  The weather had warmed up and everything should have been perfect.  But, when he kissed me, I noticed tequila on his breath. Wasn’t it a bit early to be drinking tequila? He was on vacation, he told me.  When he went back into the kitchen for more orange juice, I could hear him uncapping the tequila and pouring some into his glass.

By the end of breakfast, the tequila bottle that had been full before I drove to the airport was 2/3 empty. By then the gardener was there.  My living room is pretty much floor to ceiling sliding glass windows the entire expanse of the living and dining room that face the  terrace, pool, and back garden.  I’m sure Pasiano was a bit shocked to see me close dancing in the living room with this stranger at 9 in the morning.  It was romantic, yes, but I kept looking up to see Pasiano’s reaction.  He was watering the plants nearest the glass wall.  Now and then when I looked up, I met his gaze and his somewhat stupefied expression.  This was something new in this house!

Over the next few days, we drove around to the other side of the lake, walked the malecon in Chapala, went out dancing with friends.  The entire time, Jerry drank.  When he had said he only drank on vacation, I had not understood that what he meant was that he Only drank on vacation!  Once he hit Mexico–his usual vacation destination–what he did was drink!  By the second night, his libido was somewhat inhibited by the tequila. By the third night, he nodded off the minute his head hit the pillow.  The romance, if not over, had certainly hit some ruts in the road.

Before I drove him to the plane to return to the states, I confided to him that I would  be writing a new book and wasn’t going to be able to devote as much time to talking to him as I had in the past. (Our record marathon call had lasted 9 hours.)  He got the message loud and clear.  The romance quickly cooled.

I went on to meet other interesting prospects and several have come to Mexico to visit, but never again did I invite anyone to stay with me prior to meeting them. At one point, I preferred going to the states to meet prospective love interests–during visits to family and friends.  Some of these encounters have turned out well and I’ve made at least one lifelong friend whom I hope will always be in my life, but I’ve retired the peasant blouse.  Only this picture remains to remind me of my foolish foolish heart and to remind me never again to let it rule my choice of wardrobe!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Snapshot Stories.”  Go to the first photo you find of yourself in the first album you locate and tell us the story of that photograph.

Routes Laid Out by Heavenly Bodies

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Routes Laid Out by Heavenly Bodies

The road of the moon
on the water
is a bridge
between us
leading me
to our new self.

When I am ready
to return
to what I was
before you,
that road
has vanished

but the sun
lights a different
pathway
and sends my shadow
ahead like a door
I seek to enter.

The oldest moon,
the sun at its birth
or just before its death
create  in us
just the suggestion
of a road.

That is why we rise early
for the sunrise,
gather for the sunset,
spill old blood,
howl howl
at the open moon.

This poem meets both prompts today. The NaPoWriMo prompt was to write a poem about a bridge. and the WordPress prompt was  “When the full moon happens, you turn into a person who is the opposite of who you normally are.  Describe this new you.”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/the-full-moon/

New World Miracle: NaPoWriMo 2015, Day 9

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Today’s prompt is to write a visual poem.  This is one I tried to publish earlier this year when WordPress was not accepting pingbacks, so perhaps not many have seen it, and certainly not in this form, as when I published it, it was all evened out into regular stanzas by the blog formatting.  It occurred to me to save it in jpeg and treat the pages as photographs and that seems to have worked.

http://www.napowrimo.net/participants-sites/

Wallpaper

This is an old poem I found in the bowels of my external hard drive. Reading it stirred up the squelched emotions of eight years ago; and although they are no longer felt so keenly, if at all, they still felt authentic. So here it is, rewritten and exposed to the eyes of the world for the first time:

Wallpaper

Clinging to the wall
like an old wallpaper scrap
are the words
I want you, I want you, I want you, I want you.

Their refrain slides up and down
the musical scale—
an old country tune,
plaintive and clear.

Why do I want you?

The first time I met you,
there was something about the curl of your hair.
Your eyes, so familiar­—puzzled, as though
you, too, were trying to remember.

After that, it was
the set of your shoulders—
the arm stretched between your seat and mine
with your hand on the back of my seat.

All of your restraint an aphrodesiac.

The truth is
that I pined
for two days after I left,
then went on with my life.

Still, that scrap
of wanting
comes up early in the morning
as I waken

and my mind walks,
looking for someone to pin it to,
and every time
it stops at you.