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death and burial

wm

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

In memory of William John Fiske


 
Eulogy written a few days after I learned that Wm. was gone, intended, for his family and friends to capture some of his unique personality. I read this eventually at his memorial at Quarry Hill:

FEARLESS LEADER


to his family:

I expected to be talking to you, probably this weekend, but Brion’s email had your addresses, so I don’t want to wait. It took me almost a week for this to really begin to sink in. Since then I’ve been flooded with images of William as the extraordinarily happy person he naturally was (and wanted everyone else to be as well), and with distinct memories of how he exceeded every known limit when it came to gonzo style, outrageous never-before-existent humor, and, most of all, in his all-embracing love for people.

When I came to QH, I was 21: Wm. was 14. In hindsight, I can adjudge, he was more man than five of me at the time. I eventually cut that by advancement (in my mind) to a 2 or a 1.5 maybe (maybe), but no one could ever exceed, resist, deny, or keep up with him. That he always looked after me (with a sharp eye on my utility, of course, but still . . .) perhaps had something to do with the rational tether my witness provided. Now we can rewind that experience and extract from it testimony to sketch a rough portrait of this uniquely gifted and extraordinarily complex individual who was our hearty friend and raucous compatriot.

William was so overwhelming he seemed dangerous. I often felt, I think, that it would be better to avoid him, so easy would it be to be swept away by the strength of his dedication to action, however inspired or ill-advised. But there was no avoiding him, just as there was no stopping him. And it's been my good fortune to work with him and ride beside him over thirty years, the prime of our lives; it’s added immeasurable dimension, substance, and excitement to my life just being around him. None of us will ever forget him.

Many of us, when we’ve gone, will, like William, leave the powerful and enduring legacy of our children, and now their children’s children, for all time to come. Let us not dismiss or forget that cardinal reality. But William, like LB, Irv and Barb, and yourselves, have also formed the core of a family (unlike any in all time) whose committed destiny was to take us in when we were uprooted, to feed us, and clothe us, to open our exceedingly provincial (if willing) minds to a more primal and anarchic alternative than we had imagined could exist, and then to grow right beside us--with us--as we multiplied, over a stretch of paradisiacal years we thought could never end.

Now, here we stand, roots severed once again, and a full third perhaps of our lives remaining--or not. How quick the end can come. To any, we see. And none can lay claim to even one more breath by any right nor even ability. We stand perhaps, because we’ve not yet given our full measure. William did. Every damn day he did. He was my friend, the war leader this good soldier required; and not least, he was the caretaker, purveyor, and chief practitioner of a sense of unstoppable good humor, a fun that charted the outrageous right over the edge of anything normal, far past the ordinary, and deep into the beyond.

Let us remember that it is given to some to assault the known world’s limits with an originality never before seen. This was such a man. And his energy and verve, his panache and compassion will always inhabit our memories, and vivid they be as our dreams. But this epic and unintentional experiment really happened. Here was our life lived, all outside the known. And here was our leader, our protector, our friend. Until, suddenly, he was not. Thank you all, for all the same as he stood for, and for being his family. It does go on. And is not to be forgotten. Ever. . . .

Rick
 
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a piece such as this, an immediately evoked affectionate remembrance--here reiterated much later and seemingly removed from its context--might seem therefore, to a neutral party, overly sentimental, perhaps even exaggerated. but I would question the accuracy of those evaluations, and most of all their relevancy, by suggesting that their flaw is introduced by a couple of key oversights; namely, fir...st, the implication that there is any factor which acts to limit the operable context pertaining to the loss of a loved one, for the living who remain, and since not, that the context is all-pervasive. and in no sense then can these expressions be "out of context." second, the unchallenged assumption that, the more vivid the remembrance, the more nearly its expression ought to coincide with the event of the loss, instead of later, when such contemplation might better serve, even, be more savored, with acute grief more quiescent, less intrusive, and less likely to diminish the satisfaction and pleasure to be found there, in a reiteration of what made the loved one so unique, and so loved. and likewise, just so, is fond memory freshened and revivified, and perhaps informed as well by the ensuing advance of our growth and progress, as continues apace while we still kick. such ceremony acts as well as another way to bring us together again. in other, fewer words, there is no "out of context," and later is just an even better time, it seems to me, for memorial. that's why when I saw this page, I wanted to bring this forward again. and there's my rebuttal of any suggestion of overly sentimental, a priori, should it think to arise. think instead appropriately vivid, and hopefully fun to remember
 
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I don't think so either. less than is in order, personally, if off the mark at all, per sentiment.

insufflation off the sideboard of the skidder, in winter's early dusk, saws at our feet melting holes in the snow, was only just the ticket due we two deserving exhausted, merely injecting the evening with interest.
 
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a different day, and contra-distinct. this one:...Brought to you by BAD IDEA Jeans: "If we re-route the brook with the blade of the skidder, come right through the yard, right about here, we let it flow over the unbucked saw logs, it just might melt away this quarter-inch glaze of ice, and we wouldn't need to chip a circumferential path with a hatchet all the way around every one for every single, simple cut."

"yeah, maybe. anyway, what could go wrong? it's only water."
 
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more ice sure, but more importantly, threatened loss of the entire yard, the saw logs washed like pickup sticks downstream. only an "every man on the place" response--which we called in like the "Broken Arrow" radio call command of the Viet Nam war which when given indicated to fighter jets already scrambled and stacked every thousand feet to the ceiling all over the country, that an American unit... was in immediate danger of being overrun, directing those pilots to bring every bit of ordinance you have to bear on this patch of ground bearing these coordinates, and bring it NOW-- and a furious bit of sandbagging, prevented the worst of the damage. all agreed that it was fortunate that Wm. and I had been on-site working late when the bank had first "let go,"and that obviously it was only our quick and decisive response that had saved the day, and the whole operation. ah well. heroes again. another day, another five dollars (my daily pay for running the woods crew and doing the felling (with Mark and Michael C.) while Wm. and Ralph and Sam E. handled the yard and skidder and bulldozer)


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we were using the profit to purchase the land itself, the face of the mountain across from us from Bambi-land down almost to Reggie Andrews's, a piece that was now up for sale by the original consortium (or their heirs) of beatnik friends or Irv and Barb, who had invested in it, and now it was for sale and with developers sniffing around--hence both our urgency, and going "pro" as far as logging an...d woods work, and the modest pay of twenty-five a week, which still was not entirely to be sniffed at. it was like a hundred or so would be today. we finished the job over two winters and beautifully. it was ready to be logged again even more productively twenty years later. (I don't think it was--if not there's a small fortune in saw logs in there still on the stump.) trees we left (under 12 inches in diameter) are surely 18-20 inches now if it didn't get logged again.)

there were several years running when as still pure amateurs and for no pay, obviously, none sought, it seemed like a good idea to bring back rounds in the green panel truck from our woodlot (our woodlot was designated by the US Forest Service to cut firewood, felling marked trees); it was on top of a mountain on the west side of Warren and was only accessible (we discovered) by a sixty foot bridge over mud that we had to build from 2 x 12 planks elevated on chunks of firewood, that allowed us then to winch the truck up the hill it traversed, if we could avoid going off the planks. we snapped Harold Hubbard's come-along like a rubber band the first time we got stuck hopelessly and had to call in professional help. we would fill the trucks with rounds (Mark's big flatbed truck as well) then drive them back to Quarry Hill, dump them where the new driveway is and split and then stack it right there for drying. in that one central spot we accumulated well over a hundred cords of split stacked wood, which in the fall we triumphantly went around delivering about 15 cords to each house. only a couple years of that method had us devising a more efficient strategy, dispensing with the splitting and stacking and central location and just delivering truckloads of rounds to each house until they had enough then going to the next, all directly from the woods, wherever we were cutting. this left the splitting and stacking to those who that particular household could impel to undertake the job. it wasn't as much fun, but it made so much more sense. still, I'd love to see a picture of our hundred cord plus woodpile, all split and stacked, that stretched in a huge irregular rectangle from the swing set to the path that ran by ginger's, from the side of the old driveway almost down to what would be the start of the new one someday in the future. for now-- we were young once, and oh man, we were strong

What Would DEVO Do?


Go ahead, ask yourself: what would DEVO do? Scan your library of life lessons collated by the band that traded in their kneepads, their armor and exuberant stage dives for hazmat suits topped with pyramidal resonator helmets (these--perhaps their single most striking oddity of affectation, resembling nothing so much as inverted plastic flower pots--they don them without ceremony, with modesty and grim commitment to their post--service, we should never forget, so we won't have to similarly serve) and accompanied by their now signature chanting robotic choreography, one that mirrors nothing so much as the workaday whirlwind reflexive responses, the essential rhythms and syncopated seizures of middle class white America, tipping off toward its inevitable fall, glimpsed there just at the cusp of its suburban apex of influence, the strap beginning to slip into destiny, a legacy of never again. We are assured, however, in our helpless twilight, that though the death throes of kulture will surely be characteristically ugly, yet that DEVO will be on-site sorting through the debris, picking up after the disaster, restoring what dignity may remain somewhat serviceable, performing their knowing spiritual triage and driving the still careening ambulance of state, pell-mell with due discipline, one could say, straight on through to the funerary.

I Guess For Some People



you know who I mean, this
exposure deal is a good thing.
Even inadvertent secrets can
eat you away, all on idle;

That's when it's time for a
power-management scheme;
in lieu of that I'm repelling
all data, mined or revealed.

It's more economical to
place the weight of my
emotional baggage, across
the wide lap of my neighbor;

Of course for the efficient
distribution of labor and load,
but also it's handy to have
there at hand, I might need

a feeling of victimization, say,
or want to summon some
perverse compulsion to write,
or to sky-dive in the nude, or

to get divorced and get pregnant,
well, it will all be right there,
virtually, any time
you need to pull it out.

Just Asking: Can I Be Serious


for once? Apparently not. I'm far
too set in my ways: locked into
a perspective of perpetual need;
what emerges from deep storage--

wet and snapping, biting itself on
the page—needs nothing so much
as an answering rhythm, a syncopated
triage to repair the tear left behind in

the mind. Well, it's an avocation; at least
in the short-term, it keeps me writing.
But wouldn't it nice once to write
something of value, that is, of value to

at least one other human being,
animal even; I'm not proud; or tired.
But that's not gonna happen.
How could anyone care about

this extreme self-interest but me?
There's just no way. Actually,
there is one; and its benefits
go far beyond the possibility of

someone getting value from your poems.
It's finding (and keeping) an actual
girlfriend. There's no more exalted
pursuit than that, anywhere. Plus,

they always get value from poems
pitched their way, especially
poems written with them in mind.
If they've ever been in love, most likely,

that's just how they were snagged.
Poets can rarely resist such, some
would say, cynical use of their
alleged gift; I mean, like making

a woman fall in love with you by
writing lovely verse. But, I would argue,
it's such a lovely result—not to mention,
its being poetry's main purpose since,

roughly, the beginning of time—
so it seems kind of sacrilegious now
to associate it with something cynical,
to suggest such behavior is selfish, or

call it manipulative, as some surely do,
to persuade another person--even one
of exactly those qualities you happen
to find so particularly attractive,

perhaps even adore--to get that person
to love you, too. But, so what? I'm not
writing poems for those skags, the
kind who find romance disgusting.

I'm looking for a woman
who can be had for, approximately,
a decent limerick. That's my type
o' gal, exactly.; and we'll get on fine.

 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lifelike


when that voice from twenty years ago
asked as before: “why should we care
about this person, why would we

be moved?” I still couldn't say.

and when my favorite parts of my twenty-year-old
“poems”—the “too-easy” parts—still seemed
the best, and still satisfied me most,

I began to wonder: was this all some mistake?

my enthusiasm immersing me, once more
again beyond my ken? perhaps I was never a “writer”
in the first place; that would explain much; perhaps

my “poems” were simply remarkably lifelike

facsimiles, nothing more, something near,
but not quite, like a life: aping ethics, moral
concern and compassion, enough to fool me

(a mere stylist, not a jot more)

for twenty long years into the thousand... well,
what then shall we call them, if not poems,
then what? I had no answer; still,

I had this; one more, another whatever

you call it. but as to why you should
care at all, or even why I do, if I do,
I still have nothing.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Here's The Thing, The Only Thing



Understand it absolutely: I say exactly
what I mean. Moreover, and this requires
the former, but is key:

I mean exactly what I say.

Not more; and no less; especially
nothing fancy. I urge you to the proof.
Here, look. Follow the magnet's glow

to the number of the text: there... 'the unwanted.'

Time, it is written, is a dripping dung wagon, its
teamsters, three fools cheating at runes, so to gain
for themselves the primeval privilege (and honor)

of first-mounting the lead buck of the team

(the team, in this case, being the single spavined goat,
as shown, suggesting it was worth the trouble taken–
damn, you just can't make this shit up)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Roasta Locka Wack-Wack


is just my pen name. I'm given one
sounding a bit more refined, although

it's nowhere near so sublime. While
I'm on the subject, however, I should

probably say this: I've less reason
to employ a pseudonym, than

a boot-black. Or demolitions expert;
or councilor of romantic liaisons.



I Dealt Blackjack At


the Queen's Table; found my fortune
at her knee. All in all, she was

quite the sport. Slow to anger
when I'd cheat; fairly tolerant

of indiscretion, and almost never
complained when she busted.

Actually a pretty nice girl, just
like the song says. Not my type,

though. I'd sooner your back-stabbing
blonde with a bone in her nose, than

any of them fat-ankled Windsors.





Monday, May 27, 2013

Go Ahead, Ignore Me



I won't even know it; my aim
is pretty well off-trail of

your greasy smear; wide
by a couple of states, I guess,

on a good day. Maybe you
can nevermnd that, but

get this, junior: it's not just
my bright white linens; it's

their threadcount. And,
this woman that I love now;

I mistook her for a Ronnette.
I'm not even joking. Yeah,

she's half my age, and married,
no surprise there...just my type, right?

So it would seem. At least,
we needed no introduction.

She looked up at me several times
as she filled my prescriptions,

and each time, smiled
so very sweetly.


Occupation Nation, Last Word – Once


there was a will to get home that same
day; eventually, complications stretched
long into morrow. This peculiar mix of
right now and maybe never before or again
is giving me the heaves at the jump-cuts.

Nevertheless, and not for standing on
ceremony, we should perhaps cling again
to our naked proclivities, let us depend upon
their stout and loyal service, to once more
comport, just as if real juice throbbed in

their stems again, yet and that still with
a head full with beans, or even somewhat less,
some benighted corpulent, one not even
a legume. oi vey, I would say to that, and
there's a rough mix, matey. a particular bad

end. hey I pay rent here, there's the stripe,
here's my chop, if mayhap you don't like it,
feel free, mon, move right along, I won't
say smartly. I try to be fair. It's not what
I'd call an overriding concern, just a cobbed-up

thing to aim at, a target, like beets in a basket,
high atop a pole suggesting, somehow, we are
getting there; that this is the bridge to the
payout, trail to where the air begins to pound,
announcing a space-occupying presence, bearing,

of course, the resident's key and brim-full the vial
of incipient, or is that eminent, liquor of drama.
live virus, jack, wafting up from that thin-tubed
neck to nowhere, its own dreams, complex concoctions
never-laden with concerns such as space and

where does one, so to say, actually, huddle,
hunker down, live, that is, you know, like, hang?
Wouldn't most of that more likely be conducted
just beneath one's hat, or lacking that, more
exactly then, reside right between one's ears?

and that then far more I risk than any simply-
surrounding construction, so seen as more likely
and more properly fit to transport the man, indeed,
the king of kings, the all-seeing eye of the lord?
not less. well, these questions are not so easily

assayed. There's the ayes and the nays, and
let's never forget to lift up sore thanks for our
pensive contemplatives. still, we admit, it exceeds
even the inevitable, we're professionals,
we can feign surprise; it is, after all, even at the

lowest stripe of least, quite incredible, and never
the least bit less than it; year upon year we fail so
at failing, getting nowhere, and not in any time soon,
a sustainable pace, and level of maintenance. and
if the strap starts to slip, then, still,

we keep coming, arriving, bearing the meat.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

I Read In A Quiet Voice
















too quick for reflection, a mere flit-speed
dead flush to and skewed exactly zero from
really aligned with that crazy mixed-up coconut
Lucy, before Carmine's spinning butterfly toes
sank any chance never had by one such as me --
poet-recluse, bard of the meantime, till we get there.

There being where being there alone
expects light-piercing literal dashes to
do just what primordial dashes do best,
and leave space for a mark, again, like me;
taken at short odds, and spilled long:
how many, remember now, is it ... nine?

No, no, seven, seven cherries make the rack.
And the man (not that one), is he forged first in
profile's brief suggestion of image? or faulted, first
for leaving, then for going (not quite the same);
and only lastly, for the brief wanting of
more than they were near aligned to. 


Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Chalice Of Chastity


would not be obtainable from
the far side of too far, too soon;

long before the milk-weed stick had
gummed up the gears of evening,

I was marked for disposal.

 A black sash banded my proclivities
from disclosure before my public;

and this, well before
the nation’s were beaten to callus.

If not for beginning in dark, without
number or name, with my

thousand ears and eyes,
I could have been a contender,

if not the champ.

Monday, May 13, 2013