The last time I got into a punch-throwing fight with someone was in Victoria, B.C. The first time (in Victoria) was with Robin Skelton, a colleague at the University, but that was no contest. That was another country and another story. Around the same time, however, I got into a fight with visual artist Patrick McCarthy. I lost, sonofabitch! That also occurred in Victoria, B.C. A beautiful city but, as they say, there’s always a little darkness. I’ve been privileged to live in several Edens, San Miguel de Allende; Taos, New Mexico; Victoria, B.C.; Santa Cruz… Edens all, but each with their share of darkness. Time out… excuse me. Brief tangent: What have I learned in this life? 1) There’s always a little darkness; 2) seven-eighths of everything is invisible; 3) children and money, children and money… and in that order, that’s what’s important. Children, children. Money, money. For starters…
Anyway, Patrick McCarthy: after Victoria, he started an art gallery (The Patrick McCarthy Gallery) in Los Angeles, and we somehow became friends. There were children involved, his daughter and mine, and he behaved like a gentleman. And he also put together this collage (see above). It’s a variation on Four Incarnations, my Coffee House Press book. Four images, four incarnations. Also, excerpts from four (?) poems, one titled Turning 60; another, Prayer For My Mother, provided the phrase, “O murdering heaven…” The other lines are mine, but I don’t know where they come from. So how can I be sure they’re mine? Well, in fact, I think most are from those two poems, Turning 60 and Prayer For My Mother.
Anyway, the collage is here because, in my mind, it helps bridge the gap, the movement from 14-15 years in Canada to the U.S. And now Patrick is a friend. I’ve even written a poem for his daughter, Dante Paradiso, Actress (p. 150, The Collected). His daughter, like mine, was born in Canada (both are Canadian citizens) and his, like mine, now lives in Los Angeles. Excerpt from the Dante Paradiso poem:
“…I love L.A. traffic because it means
a whole lot of other people are here too.” [she says]
She’s half way into the intersection
waiting to make a left turn
Four lanes of oncoming DeVilles.
‘L.A.’s famous for this. I love
how huge it is,’ she says,
‘seeing strangers I’ll never see again. And the restaurants…
and the guys…
‘I should have been born here.
Anyway, I corrected the problem…'”
Writing this I send email to my daughter who replies:
“Interesting that you should ask about Canada. Yes, I feel I have
a foot in both countries. Last night I had many dreams about the
[Toronto] Island. I dreamt that I went back to visit Irina and the Island
was totally invaded with people from the city. It was no longer
‘island’ life. There was a bridge connecting the city to the
island and houses, hundreds of houses, were being built…”
And, in my mind, there’s a psychic bridge connecting the two countries. The Canadian “Island,” however, picking up on the image in my daughter’s dream, is becoming more and more like L.A.