Voices on the Wind Memorable Voices
WALKING TO POETRY 101 by Dick Bakken Portland State University, Oregon, 2/20/70 Goat milk yoghurt unsweetened, pink mint tea to settle my upset gut, off stepping in sunlight. Walk up on an old bushy dude with a sack —wine? locusts and honey?—yes I greet him, "Wha d ya know?" "Well, if I knew, I wouldn't be walkin' the streets, would I?" Silent snail forever silvering the sidewalk, into my blazer pocket until I spot damp grass. A fat lady leaning back on the leash. "I take Miss Posey for a walk but all she does is run and trot." That's truth! we wayfarers are here to move. Across the Steel Bridge onto Burnside will pass me to Old Town, lungs puffed with sky, trying to see the high clock past our American flag. Surprise— some wino bent over this rail puking sweet Tokay, stomach acid, dribbling like ticks in your hourglass, or whatever may pass. On down those spiraling stairs, heaves raining mist all whichway to the ground. I have to dash under, in just time to glance graffiti on the post For a wily suck, call Grace— and make it through dry. Look to see such a vision from distance but he is gone. My apparition! No. There he goes, lurching cross the bridge, tucking in his shirt. Gypsies sitting on boxes waiting for marks to pass by. I just can't drop the snail into a running gutter. Yonder some Hussy in bare midriff, one naked foot, toes bandaged, backhanding a Black dude with her strappy heels. Ohh that secretary! from Smith Center who stubbed her toe fox-trotting our Dean of Students. Catholic girls splash fountain spray, wetting their pulled up skirts. I squeeze past a parked pickup, startled by two wolf-dogs at the wheel half-out nosing me. A meter maid blurting with a scraggy hippy about a pal of theirs —busted? I jaywalk the slim park, bark to my best poet bunched cross-leg on a high stump with her journal. I dismiss my students, dash, but she is over the grass embracing a classmate in his letterman jacket atop those six steps to her lovely economy apartment. So now after classes and two more cups of yoghurt, dousing my snail under a tap—I begin to scrawl all this, not in my office, up in Smith Center Lounge, cross-leg on a divan shoved to wraparound glass opening down across the green panhandle to a lighted window, her brush stretched up from the ladder swiping back and forth the walls, white gloss on face and long loose football jersey. After our first classes she had smirked by on her way to a midnight movie and I spied her toothbrush, back pocket, folded into pages coffee slopped and inked. She'd smeared white-out over her nipples to strut that sparkly transparent blouse. But laughter while twisting to kiss rubbed it away. Ho! now I'll send a snail yes as I cross into green. How I'll jaunt home! stomach wildly a-churn under such a swirling infinity of stars! we all wake within to twirl our pens.