30. Breathlessly


Blogisimo, mon ami, your comments are welcome. “Line one is open, this is Dr. Frazier Crane, Seattle. I’m listening. But not for Niles or Daphne, I’m busy.”

It’s raining again in central PA. You can’t make a song out of this drippage, unlike “A Rainy Night in Georgia”  or the many other rock rain songs in the catalog. I remember doing a two hour college radio show with my friend Mark at William and Mary just on rain songs. I wish that I had a copy of that show now, complete with the conversations we had while the songs played. I know we had Clapton and Bonnie Raitt, Dylan, maybe the Band and the Grateful Dead. Some blues too. It’s way back there in my memory closet, behind the blanket from Mexico and the pink hat I bought my wife but my daughters used for dress up. Plus Mark died 8 years ago. A fine white oak tree in his prime just stopped living. Not cut down or hit by lightning. It was more like life’s poison finally overcame his rhinoceran strength.

Okay, I guess I’m going down that road. Mark was a huge person in many folks’ lives. He was Colonel Craver’s first son. I admired Mark and how he walked the line of an Army colonel’s son and a weed smoking poet. Heck, I liked Colonel Craver, though he scared the crap out of me. I knew that he liked me. Mark suffered a lot, I believe. His passion was a burning co-suffering with others, with art, with his dogs. He had a photographic and encyclopedic mind, despite the frequent  pharmaceutical baths. I have come to see him as one of my heroes, actually, though we were born just a day apart.

Mark is too big for this format. You can Google him at– Mark Wayne Craver. Some folks make a scratch in your life, others a dent. Mark made a crater-sized impact in my life that I do not wish to fill in.

CRAVE

It’s an underwhelming mood shift that settles in

My guts while reading Mark’s words, recalling his voice

His presence, how he seemed to whisper from a deep place

Honoring his choices

His memories haunted him for salvation—his and theirs

Always accurate or at least so capable of persuasion

So much I wish I had shared in the light of his fire

Deep, deep and far away familiar

So close and yet closed down

I recall driving around with his loneliness

He wanted some distant holiness 

And I wanted the dull instant kiss

Haunted now by what I missed

How he moved into a deeper language than I knew

We ate Chinese food at a shack in Vienna

When he lived with us briefly

He knew so much more

 He tossed me like a dishrag one day in play

Held my life in his meaty hands and released me

There was the Datsun he traded on the van

That blew up in the West, man, what a trip

 The time he came up with the gang to Edenville

He knew so much

More and more, he absorbed it all

 We lived parallel lives

Two red highways with different numbers

Mine was straight

His curled, burning at both ends into carbon

More and more the voice had to rise up

Justice, a supreme court justice was his goal

Back in high school and who would argue with him?

He read so much more and the mind laid waste his body

 He wanted to write the opinions and defend them with passion

Till too much injustice cut him off at the knees

The poison splinter of resentment

swelled and split the granite agreement

Of Roger and Janet…all fall down, please.

 Don’t I recall his recall of stories thirty years old

That he held out breathlessly as if they’d just passed

Sara says it must have been painful to never forget

The photographic trauma tracks of his past

 You and I are blessed by small dementias

We don’t wrestle God over forgiveness

Or punch out liars in shabby motels

 We don’t walk the plank over accurate body counts

And speak with insane pride of the maimed

Friends who refused to be interviewed by Hanoi Jane

 We don’t stop cars bare handed and throttle the speeding driver

We don’t do so much, and there is still so much more to deliver.

We don’t shoot rabbits penned up together

We don’t love our dogs with endless devotion.

 We don’t teach with harpooned passion

Or write from the fungus under the bloody nail

We don’t dwell with foreigners

Or wait humbly for them to bring us a chair

 We don’t rescue the weak

Or challenge the temporal strengths of the strong

We don’t hibernate all night

To face the crystal pink dawn

On a Harley

We don’t pile six into a Volkswagen and drive off

Anymore to nowhere in particular

And that emptiness of don’ts scrapes my spleen

When I inhale the vapors of my friend.

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