DOLPHINS AND THE DEAD
Remember San Francisco,
windy sunny hillside
and your hair floating
with the grass.
Your back to me
in black leather.
The sun so bright
into the shade of your body.
It was different on Goleta
pier. The sunset ignited
the sea, rose and gold.
The dolphins danced and cried,
the whales turned to see
the trees bow down
where the mountains knelt.
Then there were songs
to fill the air.
As I mentioned over the weekend, I’ve posted my chapbook, Finding Oakland online, something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. The delay was just that there was no digital expression of it; the computer files had been lost. And who wants to spend hours typing poems, trying to make the thing come out just as it was? That’s what I finally did. So if you read the book, you’re seeing it exactly as it was published, except for page dimensions.
And as I said, I thought it might be interesting to go over some of those poems, to see what they mean to me now. This is the first of such efforts.
Dolphins And The Dead was not the first poem in the chapbook, but I chose it to be reexamined first because it inspired the cover illustration. The cover was drawn in pen by a friend of mine, Sasha Bergman. I told her what I saw in my mind, and she drew it; nicely, I think.
The poem is simply a case of a poet looking for words to capture strong memories and feelings for another person. In this case, two short times I spent with my brother in about 1990. He was living in San Francisco at the time, and I went up to visit him.
We went to a Grateful Dead show, in Oakland or Sacramento, I’m not sure.We went to a number of Grateful Dead shows over several years.
We went to the top of a high hill of forgotten name and looked down at the city. Another time, probably that same year, we went to Goleta Pier west of Santa Barbara.
I think I remember how I felt as I wrote this. Our lives felt so fragile, so mortal, and amazing. The mundane was infused with sanctity, as life so often is.
If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung,
Would you hear my voice come thru the music,
Would you hold it near as it were your own?
Its a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken,
Perhaps theyre better left unsung.
I dont know, dont really care
Let there be songs to fill the air.
[Ripple, by The Grateful Dead]
Thanks, Jess. The whole book is here on the blog, in pdf. Just click the little book cover – Finding Oakland – in the right column.
Very nice! Can't wait to read the entire book.