Storm blowing up tonight. I was wrong, five boats went out on opening day from Sitka when the seas were big, but the wind had not built to what they are calling for tonight. They went out and set in the big seas and are back already. The prices are high right now and they have caught their quota at the good price and can sit out the storm with satisfaction.
Yesterday I wrote about crime and Bukowski. The other theme that has always animated my writing is the world on the other side of my windows. I've loved stories about animals and adventures ever since I was a kid. I loved Greek and Roman myths, my parents always talked about the old world and my dad read the old literature aloud to me. To this day I love the stories of transformation from human to animal and back again. The happiest times I had working was as a young man working with horses and mules.
I've always loved the poets who took nature as their theme. One poet I've stuck with over the years is Pattiann Rogers. Born in the south and living in Colorado now, she has a genius for language that matches the complexity and density of experience. She is no wide-eyed schoolgirl when it comes to nature. Check out one her most popular poems:
The Hummingbird: A Seduction
If I were a female hummingbird perched still
And quiet on an upper myrtle branch
In the spring afternoon and if you were a male
Alone in the whole heavens before me, having parted
Yourself, for me, from cedar top and honeysuckle stem
And earth down, your body hovering in midair
Far away from jewelweed, thistle and bee balm;
And if I watched how you fell, plummeting before me,
And how you rose again and fell, with such mastery
That I believed for a moment you were the sky
And the red-marked bird diving inside your circumference
Was just the physical revelation of the light's
Most perfect desire;
And if I saw your sweeping and sucking
Performance of swirling egg and semen in the air,
The weaving, twisting vision of red petal
And nectar and soaring rump, the rush of your wing
In its grand confusion of arcing and splitting
Created completely out of nothing just for me,
Then when you came down to me, I would call you
My own spinning bloom of ruby sage, my funneling
Storm of sunlit sperm and pollen, my only breathless
Piece of scarlet sky, and I would bless the base
Of each of your feathers and touch the tine
Of string muscles binding your wings and taste
The odor of your glistening oils and hunt
The honey in your crimson flare.
And I would take you and take you and take you
Deep into any kind of nest you ever wanted.
All I can say is Wowza! Nothing Mickey Spillane ever wrote was so sexy. Though to be fair to Mick, he never tried from the point of view of a hummingbird. Pattiann Rogers is an extraordinary poet who is incredibly vigorous and funny. I guess by vigorous I mean that she accepts no limitations to her imagination and to her manners. If someone suggested that a subject or a tone was not appropriate for a poem, she would run straight toward it. Difficult scientific concepts attract her, philosophical wit, tradition, and the avant garde attract her. She is not "correct" in any way, but is dedicated only to her delight and passion for praise, praise for the complex and and interconnected world we find before us. One drop of her work may be an antidote to a volume of Bukowski's. This is not to compare the two for there is no reconciling the two, that may be what I try and do in my odd crime novels. No, Pattiann Rogers is open to the new and is as stubborn as a rusty valve. There is nobody else like her, out there writing poetry.
I've heard that there are a group of women who gather early in the morning once a year to roll naked in the morning dew. Where? I do not know. But I like to think that their ranks are growing, and that they are is testament to this extraordinary early poem:
Rolling Naked in the Morning Dew
Out among the wet grasses and wild barley-covered
Meadows, backside, frontside, through the white clover
And feather peabush, over spongy tussocks
And shaggy-mane mushrooms, the abandoned nests
Of larks and bobolinks, face to face
With vole trails, snail niches, jelly
Slug eggs; or in a stone-walled garden, level
With the stemmed bulbs of orange and scarlet tulips,
Cricket carcasses, the bent blossoms of sweet William,
Shoulder over shoulder, leg over leg, clear
To the ferny edge of the goldfish pond—some people
Believe in the rejuvenating powers of this act—naked
As a toad in the forest, belly and hips, thighs
And ankles drenched in the dew-filled gulches
Of oak leaves, in the soft fall beneath yellow birches,
All of the skin exposed directly to the killy cry
Of the kingbird, the buzzing of grasshopper sparrows,
Those calls merging with the dawn-red mists
Of crimson steeplebush, entering the bare body then
Not merely through the ears but through the skin
Of every naked person willing every event and potentiality
Of a damp transforming dawn to enter.
Lillie Langtry practiced it, when weather permitted,
Lying down naked every morning in the dew,
With all of her beauty believing the single petal
Of her white skin could absorb and assume
That radiating purity of liquid and light.
And I admit to believing myself, without question,
In the magical powers of dew on the cheeks
And breasts of Lillie Langtry believing devotedly
In the magical powers of early morning dew on the skin
Of her body lolling in purple beds of bird’s-foot violets,
Pink prairie mimosa. And I believe, without doubt,
In the mystery of the healing energy coming
From that wholehearted belief in the beneficent results
Of the good delights of the naked body rolling
And rolling through all the silked and sun-filled,
Dusky-winged, sheathed and sparkled, looped
And dizzied effluences of each dawn
Of the rolling earth.
Just consider how the mere idea of it alone
Has already caused me to sing and sing
This whole morning long.
- PATTIANN ROGERS
She has tons of books. Find them and buy them. They will change your life. If you get a chance to hear her read do it. Drive a couple of hours if you have to. Take your sweetheart and get a hotel room. It is worth it. There is a lot more laughing at one of her readings than at a showing of American Pie III Really there is, she is funny. If you want to see your sweetheart blush, call out for the Hummingbird poem, and tell Pattiann that I told you to do it, and she'll get a laugh out of that.
A good storm blows in.
Lanyards rattle the flag poles.
Come, let me hold you.