Napomo 17: April
by Gary Hardaway
“April, Come She Will”
Ah, the cool, dark mornings
between the ice-fanged winter winds
and suffocating calm
of sun-bludgeon summer.
I woke to the low-pitched rumble
of thunder a few miles away.
The first rain came later, small
but steady, no thunder, glazing
and slickening the pavements,
silvering the grass. Once I left
to buy the week's gasoline
and groceries, the thunder
was close and the rain came
in undulating waves of saturating wet.
Poor shoes, poor socks and feet,
poor rain disheveled hair.
April spit its greeting, toe to head.
April 1964- April 1973
It was an exciting time to be alive.
We had the Beatles and the Stones,
The Kinks, The Who, The Moody Blues,
Pink Floyd, The Beach Boys,
Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King.
We had Dylan, Jefferson Airplane,
Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Joni Mitchell,
Led Zeppelin, and the Draft. We had Bowie.
We had grass and LSD, McCarthy,
the Weather Underground, Humphrey,
McGovern/ Eagleton/ Shriver, Nixon,
Viet Nam. We had Woodstock and the Moon,
Kent State and Cambodia.
We had been convinced in school
that we would change the world.
We did. But not for the better, it seems.
We never met but I admired her face
and presence across the cafeteria
and at random spots along the corridors
of W.H. Gaston Junior High circa
1965. Raven hair in waves down
to mid back, luminescent ivory skin,
and wide, expressive ebony eyes.
Picture a splendid mash-up between
the young Katie Holmes and Grace Slick
on the cover of Surrealistic Pillow.
She illuminated my erotic dreams.
Once I heard her sing You Really Got Me
along with the Kinks on her
transistor radio. The song remains.
It is gone now, that first poem,
written in a fever of recognition:
her beauty, her grace, her eyes
which made me smile then and do now.
I suspect it was a bad poem.
I suspect I should have stopped with it.
I suspect it must have opened
something in me susceptible to beauty
and the power one feels
in seeing and declaiming it
on the private space of the page
after the last chord fades
and the Easter concert crowd
drift from Lee Park for home
and dinner and the pale
mimicry of the divine
in ball point strokes
on lined white paper.
April 6, 2017
Nothing has gone as planned.
The pictured triumphs- personal,
aesthetic, professional- never solidified.
The great career became middling
and then ended in surrender
to the work and ways of late capital's
wizards of finance. When shit hit the fan,
I was buried in it, twice. I never could
regain my better notions of myself
and any power to contribute beyond
showing up on time to push through
the small routines of a middle station.
Casualties along the way were wives
and families I failed. I failed
and now, a clinging subsistence
the vagaries of politics and profit
may well un-finger, knuckle
by stressed and aching knuckle.