August in Denver

Rainy afternoon coffee on the shitty end of Larimer Street-

The kind of day that always pulled me to brown liquor as a young buck;

Drinking on the boat as we ran the lines-

Slaves to currents and tides then, not weather.

Now, as the rest of the party has repaired elsewhere to

Toast with THC gummies and loaded lollipops,

I sip harsh black coffee less than a mile from

Neal Cassady’s childhood home.

 

Should I have gotten the cream?

Her question threw me.

Still can, but not sure.

Do I usually take cream?

 

The surface of the coffee waves and crests with the

Vibrations of my hand; so I clatter it back down,

Again wiping at the new crescent moon between my

Thumb and forefinger.

My first tattoo-still fresh enough to feel foreign.

 

My dad had an uncle who died on a bar stool.

That meant a lot to him-he told the story often.

He’d also killed five men

But three were in the war so they didn’t count.

The old man never disowned him until his own deathbed;

Far too late.

 

The fucking stories we choose-

The characters we become.

 

I’m getting the cream.

It’s right there-just get it.

Maybe the next one.

Might as well,

This rain will not let up.

 

“…Nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.”

-Jack Kerouac, On The Road

© TDR 2017

 

Happy Bloomsday!

IMG_8287

“Be interesting someday get a pass through Hancock to see the brewery. Regular world in itself, Vats of porter, wonderful. Rats get in too. Drink themselves bloated as big as a collie floating. Dead drunk on the porter. Drink till they puke again like christians. Imagine drinking that! Rats: vats. Well of course if we knew all the things…”

-James Joyce, Ulysses

Celebrate as you will. Myself, I’ll steer clear of the porter. Did run into a charmer at the pub yesterday though-where we all huddled out of the storm. Extolled the virtues of stouts. Almost had me with the eyes; but I’ll still with the IPA’s because, as we know, bitter is better.

February Rain

img_6391

I don’t think I’ll live through this,

He told his friend as they watched the cold rain

Glisten under the oversized fluorescents outside the window.

What?

Life.

A car pulled up to the service island dinging the bell.

His friend pulled on gloves and headed for the door.

May there never come a time when you say that with relief

Instead of dread, he said with a wink as he ducked out into the weather.

The Boy Called Circo

IMG_3485

The drip pot vibrated at a boil on the stovetop.

“Gramma, can I have a coffee?”

She poured it, burnt thick and black, into a shallow cup and pushed the sugar toward him. He fiddled with the spoon that was formed with a small spout on the end as if dumping a spoonful of sugar into a cup was somehow old fashioned. She liked the new things, his Gramma. Even if she horded them all in her little garage apartment across the patio from the family’s grand house.

His name was actually Tomasso or Tommy to those outside his neighborhood, but since he never left the neighborhood as a child it didn’t matter. His given name didn’t matter either as his great grandfather had renamed him.

“Why did Pap-pap call me Circo?”

“Oh he used to laugh when you around. You was always run-you was always jump-you…”searching for the word “….tumble around the yard like in a circus! He laugh and laugh. Said you like a Circo. ‘Circus’. So he call you Circo.”

“I wished he would have called me Tommy-like my name. Everybody calls me Circo now.”

“Every cat in the alley named Tom. You Circo. Better.”

“Some people laugh…like Circo is a joke.”

“They laugh at you, you stop them, huh? You know how to make them stop laugh.”

He waved away her pointing finger. “Alright. It’s alright…”He shifted away from where the .38 dug into his thick waist.

“Who you gone see today?”

“Vinnie, and Joe up on the hill. Then Robert and Shack”. Shack Moran’s real name was Jacques from his French mother. Once he was out of the house he thought life would be much easier as “Shack” so Jacques Moran ceased to be. Until that morning in the not too distant future when a dead body was fished out of the river near the mill outflow pipe. All the reporters then called him “Jacques” in a formal rolling pronunciation and nobody knew who they were talking about. Except for Circo. He knew.

“Circo. You wanna eat?”

“No Gram…” The little man slid off of the chair and looked out the window at the house trying to see if anyone was watching. It was too bright outside-made spying into dark windows impossible. He had parked two alleys away and walked though yards so nobody passing would see his car. But there was only one way in-up the front steps that anyone who was looking from the house could see. He could picture his mother at the kitchen table, smoking and watching her door-keeping track of who came and went. Couldn’t do anything about it now. He was here-and he had to leave.

It wasn’t until they found Shack dead in the river that people began to call him Tommy.

In Praise of the Small…

IMG_4791

Cause some days there’s naught to do but sit on the river in the rain

“When this twentieth century of ours became obsessed with a passion for mere size, what was lost sight of was the ancient wisdom that the emotions have their own standards of judgment and their own sense of scale. In the emotional world a small thing can touch the heart and the imagination every bit as much as something impressively gigantic; a fine phrase is as good as an epic, and a small brook in the quiet of a wood can have its say with a voice more profound than the thunder of any cataract. Who would live happily in the country must be wisely prepared to take great pleasure in little things.

Country living is a pageant of Nature and the year; it can no more stay fixed than a movement in music, and as the seasons pass, they enrich life far more with little things than with great, with remembered moments rather than the slower hours. A gold and scarlet leaf floating solitary on the clear, black water of the morning rain barrel can catch the emotion of a whole season, and chimney smoke blowing across the winter moon can be a symbol of all that is mysterious in human life.”

-Henry Beston from “Northern Farm”

Lifted from brainpickings.org

Sweet James – The Letter

Our story started here

“Dear James”, it began…”I trust you remember our previous dealings, if not fondly, at least warmly enough to continue reading. I’ve heard (yes, one can never travel far enough to out-distance tales of home!) that you are currently without engagement. If that is true (and if it’s not I’ll have to give my sources a good talking to!) I have need of a man with your considerable talents and temperament. The man that I entrusted with the responsibility of the grounds at Goosington…”

James snorted and almost lost a mouthful of Scotch. He couldn’t believe she hadn’t changed the name of that pile of bricks. Around town they simply called it ‘The Manor’, ‘The Manse’ or the less charitable ‘Duck Town’…’The Asylum’…the names went on.

He went back to the letter. “…the responsibility of the grounds at Goosington has fled. As far as I can tell from here he’s completely run off-absconded with the money left him for the rebuilding of the docks and gone. As to the money, I say ‘Pish!’ but my concern is for the grounds. I trust you remember the gardens and lawns that are so dear to me. I don’t know what state of disrepair the place has been left in or what he has been doing in the six months that I’ve been gone. Indeed, two of the house staff are gone as well and I have to assume that they were in some sort of cahoots! But no matter now. Mrs. Fortescue-who I’m sure you’ll remember-is still there (though I might have a little chat with her upon my return.)”

He leaned back and drained the glass. Mrs. Fortescue. Of course he remembered her. Handsome woman-not young but not old either. She had seemed frozen forever near the top of her forties but in truth could be 10 years younger or older.  He remembered her dancing green eyes and glistening dark hair with only streaked with gray falling in waves to her shoulders. The idea of Caitlin Milan “having a little chat with her” truly gave him pause.

“There is no phone at the villa where I’m currently ensconced”, the letter continued. “Telegraph is down in the town (where I never go) and the post takes forever. Thus we have no time for back and forth correspondence. I will assume that you have accepted my proposal and as soon as you finish your coffee (see, I remember you can’t abide tea!) you will go straightaway to Goosington…”

He chuckled sotto voce like a boy in back of class, “Goosington….”

“…and begin to set the place to right.”

His eyes scanned to the bottom of the page where he found what he was looking for. He glanced at the sum and thought it appropriate-generous even-for the work he imagined having to do. But then he read the line more carefully and realized she had quoted a weekly rate. He would earn this sum times three or four if she took a month coming home?! “Sweet sweat!” he proclaimed.

“You okay over there, James?” Mrs. Sully asked.

“Oh, yes. Very much okay.” He said drilling through the last paragraph.

“Mrs. Fortescue will have an envelope for you with working capital. You will stay in the boat house-the small one, below the main house. It’s compact but has the advantage of being closed to the weather. More a house than boat house. I’ve enclosed a task list that I’d like you to review. Get back to me on the status of these projects by week’s end. Needn’t wait for me. Not for approval. Just get on with it and keep me informed…”

He was so engrossed in the letter and the list that he didn’t notice Mrs. Sully until she was at his elbow. Before he could look up the bottle floated into his vision and settled above his empty glass.

“Just half, Mrs. Sully…”

The woman made a big show of a gasp. “Are ye dying, Sweet James?”

“It seems I have an engagement at Goosington.”

“Ye mean Honkington?” she mocked.

“And it looks as if I might be leaving you.”

“Welp”, she shrugged. “Nothing for me now but to sell the place.”

“You’ll miss me”, he teased lifting his glass.

“More the pitty-pat of little tart feet”, she said sliding back to her perch.

(To be continued)