Monday, January 19, 2009

George I'm Bringing my Pearsauce! Ode to Bob

I'm on the clock now since someone actually invited me over for lunch! Hey, I'm moving up into the Popular Crowd.

Like a switch turned suddenly on, I'm hard at work on our Compass magazine, chockfull of stories about mental health, most with happy endings. After all, the magazine's motto is Tools for Inspiration and Hope. Sorta like the new Obama Administration.

I have not caught the Inaugural Flu Bug yet. I've been so beaten down by the Bush administration it's hard to come up again. Like a boxer flattened.

Was lying in bed this morning - what? I should be sleeping in my frozen car? or on the path in the backyard where the deer come in - or the red fox? - and I was so enjoying the feeling of being alive and reaching over to my night table to drink my water out of a Maxwell House coffee jar with a straw - and I decided to call up Pam, ya know, Pam London Barrett, The Singing Psychiatrist. I had something very important to tell her.

She was also in bed. Her son had a sleep-over & everyone was in bed so she was whispering.

I saw Gran Torino yesterday, I said.

Did you love it? she asked.

Absolutely. I was just thinking about it this morning.

I told her I was working on the Compass & have a fantastic story about a woman with borderline personality disorder. It's the only story I've ever read that explains to me, personally, how a person can self-mutilate, which she began at age 6. Wait till you read this issue! I told Pam I did some online reading by Otto Kernberg, now 79, whose research and practice revolves around bpd and also narcissistic personality disorder.

Every single human being worth his salt, when reading about borderline or narcissism, ought to think to themselves, Hmmm, sounds like me, except that the symptoms of the true sufferer are a million times worse.

Oy! An email just came in. Scuse me a sec.

Hey it was Sue Katz! It's so much fun having a friend you've never met before.

Saturday was my Hatboro Writers' Group. Four of us showed up and we had a wonderful session. I presented my latest poem In Memorium Bob Stuller which I'd like to read for you now, folks, without any fanfare. Well, perhaps a bit of fanfare. Did I tell you why I'm such a good reader?

Very quickly, I was reading at a small chapel outside New Hope, PA, for my very first time. I felt shy so I wasn't reading with confidence. Finally, I said to myself, I'm getting bored listening to myself read. I can't stand it I'm so goddam boring. This all took place in an nth of a second. So I looked up at the audience and said, I'm starting over.

Then I began to read with feeling. You've got to please yourself before you can please anyone else. Why am I thinking of Joel O'Steen now?


Originally I suppose
an umlaut crowned your U
how fitting
Bob Stuller
master of discipline and rigidity
How I cringed at your
rule of law
those Sunday afternoons
at our poetry group
putting people off
with your stiffness
of body and mind
hear! hear!

Grown frail
over the years
face thin
did it droop on your sloping neck
after the stroke
I could barely look
I hated you so
and only stole glances
when your head was down

You lived on a hill
- your house or hers? -
thickets and gullies
birds and wildflowers
you in the middle
Saint Francis of Assissi
careworn when I knew you
knees wobbling beneath your robe
breadcrumbs in your palms
for your wild beloveds

Your faltering heart
the surgeons could not save
you'd be interested
this morning
the Times did an article
Many come out worse
after their body's been
broken into
by surgery thieves
- that's you! - Bob with an umlaut

I skipped your funeral
we'd spent time enough together
over the poet's table
or the time you tried to....

Funerals only draw the dead closer
the spirit hovers 'round
cakey breath and
circles round the eyes
sagging flesh dripping from the elbow
take me home!

Apartness is what I want
I daren't show up
for our very last date
god knows what
you might have tried
alone at last
one of us dead
the other alive
though who among us
could tell us apart?