Monday, May 28, 2007

The Thing Speaks For Itself

The first time I managed to water-ski, it was Memorial Day weekend about a million years ago and yesterday in Possum Kingdom Lake. My parents and next door neighbors, Larry and MaryAnn, were out on an ancient ski-boat to which someone had affixed glittery letters that should have read Fun At Sea, but some had fallen off, rendering it un A Sea. I'd never had any luck yet -- I was a small child and physically inept and way too nervous to let myself relax enough to let the boat do the work of pulling me out of the water. But this time, Larry got into the water and put my feet into the skis and taught me how to position myself in the water, all while managing to smoke a cigarette and not dousing it. I was so impressed with this feat and mesmerized by the ashes crumbling into the less than pristine water that I forgot to be afraid and managed to rise from the water in the tiny wooden children's water skis that were leftover from many years ago. I went a fair ways until I realized what I was doing and in trying to do it, managed to fall. That was the first time I realized that you could do something without exerting your will and that in fact, your will was the thing that fucked everything up, made it impossible to be in the moment.

I had no words for what had happened, but everyone was happy when I got back into the boat. I sat eating bean dips and Doritos and watched everyone else take their turn. Some people could ski with one ski; my dad could even do tricks like letting go of the rope, turning around, and grabbing it again. I knew I would never be that good. By age six, I had taken to calling myself a fatalist, a word I loved because of the way fatal sounded. It sounded like you didn't have to hope for things that weren't going to happen anymore, that you had come to a peace. But I had made it up on the skis for a brief moment -- I would never be a person who couldn't ski again. Things had changed! It was the beginning of summer in 1978, and the last war we'd fought was Vietnam. I had no recollection of it, of course, except for the men I knew who'd been in it. They didn't talk about it very often. Sometimes a thing speaks for itself -- words become superfluous, dying flowers on a grave, the flags at half-mast, a day off to think about the sacrifices others make before heading into the summer that will go all too fast before the hard winter begins.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Within the soul of each Vietnam veteran there is probably something that says 'Bad war, good soldier.' Only now are Americans beginning to separate the war from the warrior.” Max Cleland

Cocktail Hour

Drinking movie suggestion: Full Metal Jacket

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Memorial Day! Much love for our troops and prayers for their quick and safe return.


Eric said...

Exactly. The will to write showed up last night, and I got nothing done until I decided to not worry about it. The I wrote one in five minutes. It shows, both quallity and message.


Very happy coincidence to start the day with. I have a lot of updating to do on my poems, and figure out what's usable or not.
That won't be fun, but it has to be done. I don't know how many I've written since April. And you know how torn up you have to be emotionally and alcholicly to write poems, sometimes. You have to become a basket case, get drunk but not too drunk, be sitting down to write and not feel a will to do so, and maybe one out of four will be good. It's going to be a long fucked up summer.

Sonny Bono said...

I wanted to like the Kennedys, so I took up skiing.

Gny. Sgt. Hartman, D.I. said...

Only steers and queers come from Texas....And you don't look much like a steer to me so that kind of narrows it down. Do you suck dicks?

Charles Gramlich said...

Don't speak of summer going so fast. Leave me my illusions.

eric said...

you have to become a basket case
so think of your love
cut off at the stump
no tongue to speak all the words
of horror you can't understand
and don't try too hard
its easy

After becoming a basket case
you need to go and get drunk
Hopefully you've already had
a love affair, but no matter
you can find those by asking
the wrong people
at the right time
of course
you need to fuck that up, too
I recommend finding their neighbor
or sister or brother
and a twelve pack
before noon on a Sunday
just don't try too hard;
easy as blue bird pie

So become a blithering wreck
go get bent at your local bar
fuck until you're useless
to everyone around you
Then go sit down and write
don't think about writing
don't try to become a poet
its too late
you ashole
just type ideas
like love cut off at the stump
or peices of your psyche
in a duct-taped, blood stained box
and just don't expect too much
take down that love affair
you fucked up so good
because you were so wasted
you called her by her brother's name

You weren't trying too hard
or you'd still be there
fucking up
drinking the last from the emptys
after you woke up
with no tongue
no words
only the horror

eric said...

an ode to one Charles Bukowski, if you will...

eric said...

I don't know if it shows, but I really did try as little as possible to write that poem...

Forget the summer.
This is going to be one long, loopy day.

realbigwings said...

Very nice turn-about in this writing. You tie the Memorial Day themes in so tidily, just at the end; it all folds together like origami.

paul said...


the walking man said...

The first veteran i met was my father, he did the entire war in the pacific on aircraft carriers as a radio man. He would never talk about it but I know what ships he was on and I know from the history channel that the kamikaze pilots of japan were aiming for his work space at the O4 level.

The second veteran I remember was a Korean war vet, he was the father someone I knew. All i remember about him was that he was angry all of the time. Screaming at walls as he put his fist or his head through them, I was young,maybe seven or eight.

The Nam combat veterans are the ones I remember the most, some I met down at the Old Miami, even though I was not a combat veteran but because I enlisted while the war was going on still and went where I was told I was given a T shirt with a Viet Nam Service ribbon embossed on it and the words Class of '72. That shirt has been worn and washed with pride so many times you can almost see through it.

I wasn't ever spit on in my uniform, when I wore it during travel, I wasn't ever called a baby killer, or accused of being at Mi Li even though my unit was artillery not search and destroy grunts.

I wasn't ever told by world war II veterans that "you lost that war"

I was never sprayed by agent orange where years later my legs were amputated and they continually tried to remap the veins and arteries to my stumps all the while giving me dyalisis every three days because I needed a kidney. I wasn't denied medical benefits by the government that sent me there;even though I was the first navy seal to enter Vietnam in 1962.

I wasn't a sniper with over a hundred kills that sleeps with the faces of their exploding heads every night for forty years.

I wasn't a grunt who didn't see a trip wire that set off a mine that killed my best friend in Nam two weeks before he was scheduled to rotate out.

I wasn't Dick Chaney who got five student deferments while in art school, and two more after he married.

I wasn't George Bush who spent half of his military time in the national guard campaigning three states over from my duty station, who now sends the children of those fine men and women, who did serve with honor and integrity in guerrilla war, off to fight another war with the words; "It's going to be a bloody summer."

Nope I simply enlisted and went to sea, did what i was told and got honorably discharged and given a T shirt that when it turns to rags i will still proudly keep it safe in the same place i keep my grandfathers burial flag from when he served in WW I.

e said...

bless our veterans

e said...

50 poems since april 10th.
Six short stories.

"After I graduate, I'm gonna get drunk every night..."
-Hoov, Animal House

Susan Miller said...

This is such a nice tribute, Michelle.

I especially loved your story about the little girl (you) having to be distracted in order to stay out of her own way. It feels like such an universal truth.