Anamnesis Variations. (from the 2001 Composition Books.)
August 4, 2001.
It’s a life of a kind of a life in the mind. Memory weighs more than its substance. It’s a trick of the mind losing grace. Chastise the beast dumb to language. The little tree spirit’s face in the bark. By the time I get out here, whatever that was that it spoke in my sleep, is gone.
Asked to write 300 words about Austin 1981 without depressing anyone still living there.
I am old. I am ugly. I am tired. I can’t remember all of the names. What was the point?
Stop looking. Listen up. Listen, hear. Worry the goat with an axe and she will lead the way.
All around the water tank waiting for a train with the Kronos Quartet. The lights of Dallas in the sky, driving out of Oklahoma with a heroin fancier woman by my side who’s not Beatrice, though we both are in hell.
Leaving her behind in a Dallas hotel suite I went on south.
I turned wrong almost every night following my nose and my prick down dead end alleys or out into the hills where stars took over the night. Everything seemed totally possible tragedy and harm hovering over all like big ghosting gods behind the stars and bars. Ever so often you could feel one of them pinch your cheek or trip your feet. They waited around long enough for us to forget they were there then they would reach out one final time to tap one or another of us oblivious sons of bitches just hard enough to kill. It’s what you might call a pernicious blow to the heart or ‘an insult to the brain’ which are the words the medical examiner employed to describe the cause of death of Dylan Thomas. No recalling exactly which glass of whiskey was the culpable ounce.
That’s the truth of such living. Us could get by only so long before some swift hand shook the fear fizzing in our brains. Smart had nothing to do with surviving since no one was thinking straight.
But also even getting straight was no guarantee.
Stevie Ray Vaughn is dead and Hubert Sumlin lives.* Hubert had all the bona fides for the graveyard back in ’81 when Stevie was doing the rocket 88 till dawn-thirty every night. Hubert did not ride helicopters. He took the cabs. You keep the blues where they belong in this day and age. Mississippi levee camps are unnecessary risks, you know. So’s helicopters. You keep goin’ up off the ground often enough you bound to fall out the sky by and by.
A tumbled attic of lies and facts, documents portending everything and nothing at all. A collection of dubious worth in all that welter. How many tales? Twenty? One hundred? A thousand? More?
* Hubert Sumlin died twenty years years later, December 4, 2011.