Philly

Oh man, Saul was Jazz just jazz we’re talking Miles Davis highlight high life big city slickers cool cat he was down for anything up for anything we met in a back alley in Boston like five minuets ago Maybe more than 5 mins like like 3 years ago even Yeah three years ago Jazz Just Jazz We used to perform on the street corners Yeah, those were the days Nothing But our Backpacks and empty guitar case and rhymes man rhymes jazz poems spoken word music nah’mean That real deep stuff Love and loss and home you know It was all about the wind man All about the wind had nothing to live for nothing to die for had nowhere we needed to be Free falling Free falling Flying high and flying far I remember when we met it was like yesterday I think He had just arrived in Philly from ah ah ah he had just arrived in Philly from Seattle yeah  Said he was running from a memory Lost his girl in Dallas yeah Hurt like a bitch na’mean a real bitch Nah man Jazz can’t be pinned down Notes must fly man Notes must fly Papa was a rolling stone Said he try to settle He try as hard as he could but notes must fly man notes must fly You can’t keep playing the same song all the time If you play it long enough man you may forget to learn another one Na’mean another one Papa was a rolling stone So he just picked up his guitar case and stuck his thumb up in the Just waving in the air like he just didn’t care Said he cried from Cali to the Mississippi from the next girl Wanted her to stay Couldn’t stay though wanted to Didn’t drink though na’didn’t drink just played that old guitar of his Went buck-wild Didn’t care about nothing man nothing Gets to Philly clubs hops hop hop to different hot spots Meeting girls Meeting poets Don’t care about nothing man nothing Said the needle eased the pain man just eased the pain man He said man naw dog just poem and music man girls and music No job No money just poetry just music just art man Sitting in cold water flats waxing poetic man Just wallowing in the blues Running Running Running Where’s home? Home is where you hunger for Home is the place you don’t wanna leave Home is just beyond that sunrise Running Running Running Never slow down Never stop Papa was a rolling stone Note must fly man, notes must fly

 

The Chapter I Try To Forget

Saul was the love of my life. We met at a writer’s colony outside Dallas Texas right after my junior year in college. It was an annual summer long conference for aspiring young writers and we were in the same open critique group. The first thing I remember was a piece that he had written about the wind. It was about the place where the wind rests, where all lost souls find home. He was a talented and extremely introspective writer who was as restless as the characters in his story. His steely eyes shone whenever he read a chapter in his novel. It was as if the ten minuets in which he was reading allowed him to escape into the story. He was perhaps the most passionate writer in the group.

After the first time I heard him read he was all that I could think of. At the time I had been writing a series of poems about my life as a girl. Over the course of the summer though, I noticed that my poems begin to be more and more about him and his eyes. I’ve always wondered how a passionate man could become so hard. It was intimidating to talk to him at first. Though I was generally confident in my work I was always tentative about reading it in front of him. It wasn’t until I wrote a poem about my only home being literature that I think I caught his eye.

After the session on that particular day I remember him coming up to me timidly. I was shocked that someone who I had been so intimidated by would be so shy. When he finally got the courage to introduce himself he told me how much my poem resonated with him. He told me that he sought a feeling of warmth and welcome in a place but could only find it when escaping into his stories. He had a sort of restless romance to him. I think his constant needs to run was what made him so passionate. He consumed the world around him so quickly yet so vigorously. He reviled in every moment, in every conversation, word and kiss. He had an insatiable desire to know and understand. He would listen to me talk for hours drinking in every word. I think that is why I fell for him so quickly. He loved me in a way that I don’t think anyone else could.

He had a way of making you feel special, of making you feel like you were the only thing in the world that mattered. I think it was because at the moment I was. He was so hopeless focused on the moment, so hopeless enthralled with now that he let his mind slip away. I think that when he loves he escapes into that love. Into the place in his soul where he kept his love. In a way that was what I loved about him the most but also what I thought was the saddest about him. For some reason, some unfathomable reason, he was so uncomfortable with the world around him to live in it. Too obsessed with what could be, where our love was heading, to live with it now. It was his great contradiction. I have never figured out how a man could be so thoroughly absorbed in the moment yet be so wholly detached from the reality of the moment.

It was as if he took every moment and romanticized it; made everything, even the most beautiful things more magical in his mind. It was what made him such a moving writer, gave him an extraordinary ability to love and what made him so unable to settle down. The future, the next moment, the next kiss could always be better. His greatest trait in many ways contradicts his own being. He would savor a moment and at the same time dream of the next. That was his tragedy, an inability to be satisfied . So our love affair went. It was an amazing relationship. His poetry expressed such a depth of beauty that was simply put unparalleled. It was his poetry that allowed me to be blind to his dissatisfaction and for two months ignorance was bliss.

When the summer ended, it seems, so did my heart. Had it merely been the “summer lovin’” that young people often face the pain would have subsided once I went back to school. However my love was real. It was an intense love but real none the less. I knew him and loved him. The real problem his that I know with out a doubt that he loved me. He loved me. It may have only been one summer but he loved every moment we were together. Yet when the summer ended he had to leave me. He had graduated from college that may and I had been hoping that he would come back to Boston with me. He had no ties to anyone or anywhere else. He could have lived anywhere but he knew I couldn’t. So he knew that following me to Boston would amount to staying with me in Boston.

For the last few days of the conference he was torn. You could tell that the decision was making him physically ill. I truly believe that for any other man the decision would have been easy. Yet Saul is a complicated man. The decision wasn’t easy on either of us and on September 5th he flew out to New York. I’ve spent a lot of time in the intervening years thinking about what would have made him stay.  I think he just needed to run until he ran into himself. It is entirely possible that one day he will find a place, a moment which he knows can’t get better. Maybe after he has run around the world seen the best and the worst he’ll know it when he sees it. Maybe he just needs to tire himself out. Maybe he just needs someone who won’t let him leave

# Back Of The Book

A man comes undone

Fake:

The absence of substance

-The abyss-

I’m a Wasteland of

An American Tragedy

Run amiss

Societies questioning me

While I’m pleading the fifth

Grasping the truth in the mist

 

 

I ‘m running from life

Like it stabbed me in the lungs wit’ a knife

Gasping bloody breaths

As I fall through the depths of night

It hurts

 

I’m writing to find

That Section of time

Before my heart went blind,

And the life I lived was mine

 

hovering, unshepherded and visionless, on the brink of disaster

Dying, falling, wavering, nothing comes after

This

My self constricted wish

For a life of my own the world will miss

 

Bartering my karma for a drop of water

I’m selling my soul

But never quenching my thirst

Drinking buckets full of coal

Fuelin’ the flame

That’s burning me whole

Yet, my heart still shivers

Foreseeing its deaths

And death’s toll

Ring a bell?

 

Flying High

Burnt with a blind eye

Like a bat out of hell

I’ll be back

Before my mind thinks to say a farewell

 

Fare well to my past

Life, memories never to last

Shell shocked

Charred by the truth of ego’s blast

Chained away from society

An outcast

 

I was caught black handed

In black face

Gave em’ what was demanded

Just to save face

 

 

And then it hits me

Deep dark violent

Mind left numb

The world goes silent

As I see the reflection of the chaos I’ve become

Crazy

A man comes undone

 

Chapter 4

I never the met the guy. I was in Poor Richard’s book store in the Springs a few days ago and bought a copy of Jack Kerouac’s “On the road.”  There was old folded piece of paper with a barely legible poem. It was signed simply: Saul.

 

Sometimes, he sits alone.

He sits like stone,

unmoving.

His static motion masked

the commotion in his mind and

lay hidden was the turmoil of his soul.

Inside he was chaos—

falling through the liquid reflection of himself;

drowning in an ocean of an identity crisis

—as fluid memories of a self-doubting existence

whitewashed the insides of his granite façade

flushing away any chance for relief.

 

Reality was too heavy a burden.

 

He spirit struggled on the brink of collapse

striving in vain to reach a horizon of calm,

a measure of sanity.

Oppressed by reality

-thick and heavy in his lungs-

he labored in silent futility

for peace of mind.

 

Can you run fast enough to get away from yourself?

 

Chapter 3

Saul was something else. I didn’t know him well. Then again no one knew him. So I suppose I knew him more than anyone. Never understood him though. He was remarkably simple. He didn’t like where he was, so he ran. Easy. He was running from himself. Easy. He was running towards himself. Complicated. I’m not sure if he knew who he was and didn’t like it or didn’t know who he was and didn’t like that. Either way he was running. Fast. Either way he was running home. Easy. Where was home? Complicated.

Chapter 2

It has been quite a long time since I saw him; maybe six or seven years ago. I was a different person back then…we were different back then. We were young and full of excitement. The world was our oyster so to speak. We had both just arrived in New York and were ready to throw caution to the wind and leap blindly into life in the big apple. We were broke, no job, no thought to what we wanted to do with our lives and nothing to keep us anywhere.

At first we just slept in hostels and bummed around the city spending as little money as possible. The little we did have we got from me singing in Central Park or Saul selling his sketches to the yuppies on the upper east side. It was a good, if unorthodox, life to lead. We would travel from café to café waxing philosophic and waning poetics with the other runaways we eventually found from morning till night time. We thought of ourselves as 21st century beatniks, lapping in the joys of poverty like only the white educated middle class can. In the words of Hurston we had everything the world envied, we were “free, white, and twenty one.”

It was a sort of rush that we experienced in those days. The intoxication of such foreign experiences sent us reeling around the city streets like junkies. We were addicts to the world of our self-constructed ghettos and thrilled in the foolish notion that we experienced the nitty-gritty truths of the real world. We thought that we had found a new way to live, and with it a new sense of self. We had transcended the trappings of the “fake” world we left behind. Though in truth we were nothing more than the bastard children of the civilization that created us.

Yet, youth has a way of overlooking such minute details, and so to us it was such a beautiful fairy tale, with a plot that we were sure that you couldn’t have expected. We were convinced that everything we discovered was a secret known only to us and the like minded travelers we met along the way. We formed a band of lost souls, a league of beggars. We ran into young people from every walk of life (real or fabricated.)

There was Charles from Boston, who had the look of a long lost Kennedy. Dark haired, light eyed and full of himself. Charles had an easy swagger to him and he tried tirelessly to maintain it. Though seemly carefree he spent an unusual amount of time running his hand through his hair so as to get that “yeah, I’m a bum but I don’t give a fuck!” look. He always wore the same pair of ripped jeans with patches all over them and a shirt that read “this is your child on drugs” and had an arrow pointed to the left. From his clothes to his personal mythology, Charles was always careful not to let anything to slip that might hint about what his life back home was like.

In a way I suppose you could say that he was uptight about being carefree. The real Charles was heir to one of the wealthiest family fortunes on the eastern seaboard. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth that was engraved in the family crest. Though he tried to hide it, the truth of his life was simple, he was a spoiled child slumming before he went to law school. But of course, he wasn’t going to law school. He was too driven to pull off the “I don’t know where I’m going” act. He was thoroughly unconvincing.

There was Luce from  east St. Lewey. She was so pale that we were always concerned that she was deathly ill. And with her dark hair, sullen demeanor and a Pandora’s box of emotional problems, I suppose the image fit her pretty well. She was the only beat from the league who had real lost kid credentials. Her parents died when she was young, and there was no one else left to look after her. That abandonment at such a young age put a chip in her shoulder that she refused to let the world in to see. Raised in Saint-Jude’s orphanage in the rough section of the city, she had had a dark aura of solitude around her since childhood. She would often head out alone into the city to be surrounded only by the music of the city and her own thoughts. It was at those moments that you could tell she had a mountain of emotional baggage on her shoulders. It took her sometime to warm to up to everyone though she never came close to opening to anyone but Saul.

Despite her occasional brooding and even as thin and pretty as she was she was still a force to be reckoned with. Her personal motto was to never back down; a motto which she would repeat coolly whenever we were faced with a tough situation. She had a cool, calm demeanor and a level voice that made her seem to always be in control, sad, but in control. I remember thinking that she would have walked serenely through hell if it got her where she wanted to go, and maybe she already had.

Though she never said what brought her to New York it was clear that, unlike most of the league, she wasn’t running away from anything, she was just walking where her feet took her. Four years earlier she had left the orphanage looking for something that she couldn’t quite put her finger on. She walked for miles, going from one small town to another, working when and where she could.  She would stay in good and not so good samaritans houses, trailers, backyards and garages. I imagine that she must have gotten in to some dangerous situations but if she did she never mentioned it. When we would ask her about those years her face would jerk as if the memories themselves were physically painful before she collected herself and said that this or that particular part wasn’t really that interesting. All she would say is that she met some interesting characters on her journeys. To this day I still wonder if she ever got where she was going.

Most importantly there was a girl named Lola from everywhere with eyes that told a stories about nothing and everything. Lola was the only one of us who could match Saul in poetic carelessness. She had perfected graceful abandon and could run into trouble like a pro. She would spout proverbs that only a man on drugs would think we wise. Needless to say, many in the group found her wise beyond her years. She always used to say that “her life was over before it began” and whenever she saw something she couldn’t afford (which was everything) she would sigh and say that “my heart will never be broken yet will always be unfulfilled.” One of her favorite proverbs though  was that “she wasn’t rich until she was poor and couldn’t understand the world till she knew nothing.” And so she ended everything with “it makes sense if you don’t think about it.” She loved to fuck with people.

She had sass that was unmatched by anyone I have ever met before or since. She was kind hearted and beautiful but could make a look that kills at the first sign of anything disagreeable. If Luce’s motto was never back down then Lola’s was often a simple command: “Back down. Now.” She was a no-nonsense woman who didn’t take shit from anyone. Yet she had the uncanny ability to diffuse any tension with that often mischievous, Hollywood smile. She could simultaneously be a social butterfly and a queen bee. As she swept into any room all eye’s were on her. Parties thrived and died to suit her mood. Basically, when Lola walked into a room she owned it, for better or for worse. She was je-ne-sais-quoi incarnate. She could contend with Saul as the most complex person I ever met.

The thing that united us all was a severe discomfort with the way things were when we settled down. The feeling of profound eeriness when we knew we had stayed in one place too long. It was a feeling of restlessness with our place in society. It was an obsession with our first world, shallowly and incorrectly labled existentialistic problems. So we were the league of beggars, our young angst told us that by stripping ourselves down we could truly find ourselves. We were real cool nouveau paurve beats. We were the college educated contraband hobnobbing with the hobos as if they jazz June. And Jazzing June was what Saul and Lola did best.

Saul always liked to say that he lived his life like Jazz. Seemingly erratic, improv’ed yet structured and skillfully composed. He walked and talked and breathed like he was a character in a Ginsberg, Brooks, Hughes or Giovanni poem. He thought the first 15 lines of Howl were something to aspire to. He was searching for the world that existed only in those poems. Harlem, Chicago, and especially San Franscico where his literary homes. In his waking life he was a Jazz poem.

 

Looking back to those years, he was quite reckless, he lived for right now with no thought of tomorrow. He had an expression that he used to say when people tried to get him to slow down “ If you stop long enough in life you may forget to start running again.”  At the time I always wanted to ask him where he was running to. I know now that the question I should be asking is what was he running from. What had happened to this young man, all of twenty-one that he feared slowing down so badly.

Of course, he was much too hard to show that it was more fear than excitement. But his gray-eyes told a story more compelling than his wild antics. They showed a life time he was too young to have lived. They rested like shallow pools of depression that he hardened into steel. I wonder now if his recklessness was little more than a flamboyant act of over-compensation for a self-perceived defect on the part of himself.  I think of him often these days and find my self asking what demons he was fighting. What was the ghost in the darkness; the fear that ever so often would crack through his ever so charming smile.

Hmmm…it is funny how things change over the years. We were never as special as we thought we were. We never as clever as we thought we were, never a counter-culture just hipsters. That’s not what I tell myself though. Saul has to be

Chapter One

My son, Saul, was the pride of the family. He was the not quite the son everyone wanted, but the son that you would be proud to have. He was an extraordinary boy, as all of my children were then. He was bright, kind, gentle and incredibly introspective. When he was younger he never talked, he just sat there off in his own mind. We worried about him a little. He had trouble making friends in school, often spending recess alone in the classroom reading. Though he came to outshine everyone in his class, having you nose stuck in a book was not the easiest way to make friends. Like most kids his age he was bullied at school. Yet for him it was worse. He never talked about it much, so I suppose neither should I.

I don’t think he ever got over elementary school, and middle school wasn’t much better.  He was the black sheep of the 8th grade. He was a thinker not a social butterfly and certainly not a fighter. He would often come home bloodied and bruised but would never say what happened. He was far too hard for his age, forced to constantly steel himself from the pangs of childhood cruelty.  His blue-gray eyes shined like steel, their intensity being the perfect foil of his silence.

Looking back on it there should have been more we could have done. I mean, what type of parent sees their kids bloodied up and doesn’t say anything? To late now.

As he got older he started to crawl out of his hole. It was painful, you could tell that it was hard for him but I think he got tired of being alone, or maybe just tired of being who and where he was. He was never going to be prom king, yet, slowly, my son came into his own. He started getting into music and hanging out in the local record stores. After a while he became a regular at Independent Records and started to make a few friends. For him and his friends music was a sort of escape. They even started their own band The Misfits. Not so original but then I guess nuance and edge just wasn’t their style.

I remember his always practicing with his guitar, playing all his favorite music from the sixties. I think that he could relate to feelings of restlessness that permeates through the romanticized memories of the decade.  All his life he never liked where he was. I think that is why he always read as a child and why he played his guitar all day long as a teenager. Music and books can take you further than your feet ever could. Whenever he would play music you could tell that he just wanted to runaway.

I still don’t know where he wanted to go. When I asked him he would just smile and say “anywhere but here,” and then go back to playing his guitar. And that was how it was all throughout high school. He never seemed to get much better at the guitar though. It is like he liked being off key as long as he was on rhythm. No doubt that was calculated teen angst.

When he wasn’t playing the guitar or listening to music or reading he would just sit alone in his room, being a runaway in his own mind. After he graduated High School he got a full ride to the University and we only see or hear from him once or twice a year if that.

 

Prologue

I have a story to write. Well, I suppose it is not story per se. Seeing as how it neither started nor ended and chronology doesn’t much matter not to mention that there isn’t any plot and I’m only writing my own thoughts on this page and every other page is from someone else.  I guess that is more how we’re telling this but I guess a story is still a story no matter how you tell it. Maybe we’re telling it wrong. I don’t know maybe some stories just shouldn’t be written. We should have looked into making a documentary. Most people don’t even read books this short and nobody reads vignettes. I mean what type of tool writes vignettes anyway? Don’t you have be like over 60 and have done something amazing? That’s like writing a biography of someone who is still alive.

How about this: a quasi truthful account of actual events. That sounds better. It is a handful of years seen through the eye of a handful of people trying to get a handle on an unusual man. Though you should also think of how wonderful is this man really? Would you want to be friends with him? I mean maybe that’s why he never stayed in one place very long. Is he really great or is everyone blowing him out of portion? Well, as the narrator of this page I would have to say that my view on him is 100% accurate and the other people are probably more or less correct.

I’d have to say that he might have been great; he might be the greatest person who never really did anything. He was Di’vinci without the Mona Lisa, Mozart without music and Jack Kerouac without a road. He leaves nothing behind but a poem here or there, a picture or two and an impression on everyone he met. Then again… never mind… I hate people who start books like this. On to the story they say!

So me and Saul walk into a bar…

?

I am who I am.

the depths of my soul are indescribable,

indestructible and ever changing.

My dimensions extend definition

So no language made by meager men

could tell you who I am.

I must be lived, loved, and

experienced to be understood.

 

So seek for me outside the cave;

philosophizing on mountain top

rewriting my mind

and bearing my soul

I’ll be the echo on the wind

and the voice of the stars

 

You’ll find me defining the world

extension of all that I am

A reflection of a man, clear eyed and vibrant

Quixotic

Chasing windmills as an excuse to see the world.