What can I say?
I want a car with leaded gas (tank filled), a paper map, an AM radio that plays faithful songs of love and death, promise and betrayal, and you, whoever you are, willing to pay attention to me, just long enough, to remind us both that we're actually flesh and blood, not some digital automaton conjured by the corporate hoo-doos of ATTVERIZONSPRINTMOBILE in order to maximize our sanitized digital dope for a bottom line we'll never see.
No wonder I love Torah and poetry so much.
But goddamn! What an uphill battle we retrogrades fight!
I been walking along with this story, courtesy of Philip Levine (Poet Laureate of the United States 2012 YO!) for the past week. One encounter from our nutty world that says so much. Read it and weep.
So I hailed a cab, and the guy pulled over--a black man, probably about forty years of age. I told him exactly where I wanted to go, a particular door in the museum. And he said, "You must know this city." I said, "Yeah, I used to live here." He said, "Yeah, you left us, didn't you?" And I said, "Yeah." He said,"Well, all the smart people left." And he said, "What're you doing?" and I described what I'd come back for--that I was a poet and I'd come back for the retirement party. He said, "Are you going to make him laugh or are you going to make him cry--your old buddy?" I said, "I hadn't thought about it. But now I'm going to try to do both." Then he said, "Oh man, that's biblical." I didn't know what he meant by that. What is he saying? Am I hearing born-again talk? So I said to him, "What do you mean by 'that's biblical?'" He pulled the cab over to the side of the street and he said, "You know, you and I could become friends. You know that? If we knew each other well, I think we could become friends. Let's say we did." I said, "Yeah.""And here we are," he began. "What's your favorite drink--alcohol, you know?" I said, "Irish whisky." "Okay, mine's bourbon. Now you see that bar over there? Let's say you and I would meet frequently at that bar, we'd have a drink and talk, and then one day you're in the cab here and I'm taking you someplace, but instead of getting out on the curbside, before I can say anything to you, you get out on the streetside and--wham--you're dead. Well, today is September 23. Every September 23 I'd park the cab here, I'd walk up to that bar, I'd order two drinks, my bourbon and your Irish whisky, I'd drink mine for me and yours for you. That's biblical." The guy was great. Then he took me to where I had to get out. We parted, and I never saw him again.
Bless the poet who reminds us of the essentialness of life's sinewy, fibrous, verbal reality, conjuring life from words. And yes, bless the poet, whose narrative certainty roots our vaporous virtual strivings in memory's muddied, certain earth.
Heads up, ye humans! Abandon ye palms! Embrace your fate. Before all the smart people, the wise people, leave or die.
"You know, you and I could become friends."