Selective Memory

by Andy Clausen

Back in the early nineties on the way to a poetry gig
            in Humboldt County my car went kaput
And I wound up in a motel bed with my cofeatured poet
            who I’d known since she was a kid 19
That was back in 1975
I was running a very successful feature open
            Monday night reading series at the corner
            of Dwight & Telegraph in Berkeley
            often 100 people 35 on the list
There she was, 19, skinny, tattoos, callipygian, you know pretty
     little butt
            face cuter than any button, eyes bursting with story
“Mister I’m from Hells Bend Oklahoma, I have poems about growing
            up there.”
I said, “You’re next.”
            a couple years later she fessed up
            she was from Orange County
“I said Hells Bend because I thought it would impress you.”
From the giddy up I dug her style and country girl heart
            her love of Beat Tradition
            and Jack London, Dylan, Kerouac, Hank Williams
            her ecologically committed verse
And she flattered me as her mentor
I couldn’t take my eyes off her, back or front
I wanted to put a large         smile on her face
I wanted to see her bejeweled eyes eat me alive
I wanted to get lost in magic rhythms
            hear the groans, gasps, outcries of ecstatic freedom
I wanted to be welcomed inside her
            to get my whole body in there
            to bathe luxuriously in the goodness
I envisioned as our cradles slowing into reentry consciousness
            O our amazed spontaneous laughter!
I envisioned an excess of Blakean joy, uncontrollable weepings
            where lovers can’t stop kissing each other all over
I envisioned her by my side, Percy and Mary, Crazy Horse
            and Black Buffalo Woman, Richard and Mimi
            the Rosettis, Saxon & Billy, Dr. Z and Lara
            even more legendary, more glorious
Touring the continent, Europe Asia, poets in love
I put my hand lightly on her thigh and asked she said no
I lay on my back not sleeping; I have another car back home
            it aint legal old beat Vulva, Eorsi Istvan, had given me
            when he went back to Budapest I should have kept it
            the jalopy Istvan drove from Boulder to Oakland
            I could get plenty of Forints for it now, I bet, but
            it was illegal and a couple hundred miles away
So I started walking on my back wide awake through the cities
Of my life Oakland Frisco Eugene Chicago Denver Boulder
            New York Nashville Austin San Jose Katmandu
            It was a long night
            Prague Brussels Vancouver Winnipeg Thunder Bay
            Montreal Anchorage Ketchikan, I walked the AM streets
I wandered where ever I could find brick & wood & stone
            staying away from vegetation & warm blooded creatures taking the
            alleyways wending to where the fog
            freezes the lights and the traffic is seldom
I kept walking till dawn, when I’d be happy go lucky
            me again

18 years later the other night she & I were talking
            on the phone and she told me again
What a great friend and influence I’d been
I said, “Yeah, you know what made me sad is that
            you didn’t desire me sexually
You know I tried when I first met you and remember the night
            in the motel?”
“Are you kidding me? I adored you.
I wanted to so much.
But the first time you were married
            and the second time I was just about to get married
            to the man I love who’d be stepfather to my kids
            and I’m with today
Don’t you remember?”

Do you think it’s too obvious if I add
That’s the part I forgot?