blackbirdonline journalFall 2009  Vol. 8  No. 2
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Among the creative riders and artesians, I was
the resident yahoo at Yaddo and hid in my room
to scribble while all the interluckshells swapped
gossip and pills and wit, not to mention bedmates,
which was not a sign of lust so much as “curiosity,
urbanity, finesse.” So said Miss Fenwick, a friend
despite her savoir faire, jodhpurs and sangfroid.
Caviar from Russia, English cheese, French wine,
ballyhoo over politics—I was very much the fawn
in the herd but tolerated the yarning and enjoyed
gawking at the gardens—rock and rose—sylvan
paths and fountains in an Italian style (no shoats).
But every enchanted forest must have its witch.
Ours was the in—house Red named Agnes (Lamb–
she—ain’t) Smedley, which raised a holy runkus
when some of us complained and the Left struck
back like a horde of Mongols. The writers—we
happy few—petitioned for calm, then debouched
in protest. Before the fracas, though, I worked
at carving Motes and Lily Sabbath out of the dark,
and when Cal Lowell said, “Wise Blood’s the right
title,” that fed my sparks. We had us some talks.
Poor Cal, who thought he could swap his wives
and addresses, even his creeds to stop the demons
whizzing about his mind. Before the Commonist
became a problem, we walked the grounds. I was
young and full of pepper. He had a lover’s quarrel
with the church and mocked doctrine for a hobby.
A few days after Halloween he found a stray
hubcap in the weeds and hung it in a dying tree
outside his writing window. Cal said its chrome
was flaking to form a famous face in profile
and picked up the sun at times in the same fashion
the crucial Son waxed and waned in his heart.
When he hinted he planned to return to Mass
(nothing to do with my pleas), I worried fears
of madness galloped, but welcomed him back
to the fold. I still had a girl’s chirpy energy,
skirmishing with words—Haze on the train,
Haze in rage, preaching his bleak gospel—then
me creeping downstairs toward the noise, dining
by candlelight with all the boozy sages Freuding
everything half to death. The Marxist brigade
had little use for craft, unless it served the herd,
so I could never figure, beyond globe—trotting
and bed hopping, why they bothered. So went
that winter on the invention plantation, every
inmate gregarious and touting a truth. One wit
said the mansion was in fact an asylum for batty
unfortunates who believed in the worth of art
and were quarantined there for their safety.
They were all devoted to mirth, the conga line
and the giddy soirée. Even this country mouse
aimed one evening to enhance the after—hours
frolic, but headed down to the hoopla studio,
I slipped up on an icy step, broke my bottle
of Puerto Rican rum and could hardly fail
to heed the message in that. At my desk till
past midnight, I worked out a forlorn scene:
Enoch moping alone in his gorilla ensemble
stared at the city and its beckoning steeple,
until his idiot grace made me feel serene.
Happy to be with another of fortune’s fools,
I fell asleep in my party frock, snoring solo,
cold sober, again hog—happy beyond the pale.  end

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