Into the party, as I gravitate

To the rugs, a couple says hello;

Bob and Cinda, fisherman and mate,

I kid you not.  Bob rolls a joint real slow

From crumbled, sticky, bud de México.

He passes it.  I take a hit and blow


The rolling smoke aside and then I cough

That I’m a grad student, and I know

Marine Biology.  But, I’m off

For this semester and I’ll tell my prof

That I will make it up.  (I know he’ll scoff.)

Oh, yeah.  So what?  The job market’s a trough.


Then Cinda rises up above the cloud

Of smoke where I am playing Philosophe.

She saunters to the kitchen where its loud

With jabber bent by turning heads; the crowd

Has eyes that open wide and then beshroud


Her brown hair and the soft and whispered smile

As Cinda navigates politely proud

In blue-jeans and a blouse that suit her style.

She opens the refrigerator while

The guys make faces like a crocodile.


So meanwhile, back upon the Persian rugs,

My words are flying out so infantile

That Bob just smiles so wryly thin and tugs

The whiskers of his beard, and then he shrugs

To Cinda who is coming back with hugs.


I tell them of my odyssey today:

Across the campus students swarm like bugs

To Science and Humanities’ display:

Cadaver Woman, naked, leaden-gray

Like plastic.  Lying on a tray,


Her heart is poked apart for hours there;

Formaldehyde perfume my nose unplugs;

As tan young girls in flowered dresses stare

With green-eyed souls and chew their long blonde hair.

Of all things, then, a bomb threat stops the fair.


But, how I got to Steven’s party here

I can’t remember, so I’ll never care.

Near Muckenthaler Ridge it all comes clear;

The laughing, music, and the clinking beer.

So Mo, and me, and Dobzhansky appear.


And there is Steven, girl upon his knee,

Inside his house.  We cross the wild frontier

Where we and all the co-eds will run free,

Debate abortion, and Society,

And watch for willing lovers, constantly.


I realize it’s past too-late o’clock

When Bob and Cinda rise and draw for me

A map to where their boat is at the dock:

286-G, the limit of the block

On Island Terminal.  No need to knock!


Near where the tuna catch is being canned,

Their blue Volkswagen van they park and lock.

Their boat of 38-odd feet is manned

By just a seal who hears us coming and

Abandons ship, deserting out of hand.


We climb below the deck, all single file.

Therein, the cluttered narrows take command.

Inside the cubby-kitchen cooking aisle

Is Bob, who’s boiling coffee grounds awhile,

Then pours it for us, sipping with a smile,


As Cinda plays for me a cassette tape

Of Beach Boy songs, all that she could compile,

My eyelids slowly drooping like a cape,

I hum with “Sail On, Sailor” to escape

The buzz from beer and smoke and get in shape


With all the coffee, dark as prophesy,

That I can hold.  I feel the coffee scrape.

Then Cinda plucks a book to show to me:

Another Road-Side (what?) Attraction (see?).

“It’s by Tom Robbins and its great”, says she.


Beside the nook where Cinda and I sit,

Bob is standing.  Both of them agree

That Disco is a platter full of shit,

And yet I argue Bee Gees now have hit

Arrangements showing cleverness and wit.


While tugging at his beard, Bob starts to grin

Real wryly.  As he listens to my skit

I know he thinks that Disco is a sin

And disregards my thesis.  I can’t win.

I change the subject, finally.  Wherein


I tell them that I like their fishing boat.

I ask them how they wound-up fishermen.

As Cinda rolls a joint, Bob clears his throat:

“Oh, I was in the Army to promote

Nguyen Van Thieu and keep his shit afloat.”


“Commanding men is mostly giving them

Activities.  (Do not give them a vote.)

Without a mission, men will cause mayhem.

One night we cruise the Province of Quáng Nam

And bullets rain a hundred RPM.”


Bob’s lips lock on the joint, and he inhales:

“A round has blown away this guy’s brainstem.

We find a bunker, running down the trails;

My men dive in and then the light impales

My eyes.  A booby-trap the bunker now unveils.”


“My men are all bomb-fragments in the wall.”

He holds his reminiscence, then exhales.

But silence is concrete between us all

As skeletons of memories start to crawl

With yellow bones.  In blood they scratch and scrawl.


He starts again, “I was discharged and got

An office job with music in the hall.

And there it was that Cinda and I caught

The sight of one another.  She was not

Unhappily divorced.  And, we both thought


That working for somebody else did suck.

Together we would have a better shot

At being happy.  So we planned our luck:

We didn’t let our spending run amuck.

I saved my pay; she sold her pick-up truck.”


“We bought this fishing boat.  It was a deal

So far away from working for a buck.

And here’s a picture of it taken real

Soon after Cinda listened my spiel

To say our boat would have her name reveal


That Cinda, in bold letters clearly drawn,

Would have no sadness to conceal.

We have our own contentment from now on,

Awakening together with the dawn,

Horizon all around, the land foregone,


The water’s edge is all that lies out there,

Where fathoms stand on soil, down thereon.

But you had better know how to repair

An engine.  Mend it ‘cause there is no spare.

Convenience like an Auto Club is rare.”


“For weeks to us no vengeful God displays.

Yet, though we live a dream of laissez faire,

The Mafia, at most ports, always pays,

But haggle not with what they do appraise,

For your catch.  Going elsewhere can take days.”


“We shop over the side for most our food.

It comes to us.  We still need culture’s ways

For beer and stuff to burn that suits our mood.”

Another fisherman comes to collude

Onboard with us, with wine, and I conclude:


These sailors (and that sailoress) will wait

For no excuse: no drink will they exclude.

“’Cause what’s the use?” says Jimmy. “To first mate,

The Cinda.”  Boyish face cannot negate

He’s captain of the Zeppelin, sedate

For such a big guy.  We four celebrate,


As we are tethered there against the tide.

“Just listen”, Cinda says.  Our words abate

And I can hear the mussel shells outside,

That cling onto the hull and congregate:

They’re clicking, snapping, drinking until late.

Our bottoms up above them share their fate.






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One thought on “VISIONS OF THE GONE

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