Canticle

(Memory is many long mirrors)
Corridor mirrors reflecting doors
Quietly opening
                        and then
Noiselessly closing,
Letting wet hats and faces
In from the rain.

(Memory is everything
            Silently
            Forever
            Occurring in mirrors)
Closet doors open;
Closet mirrors twist a smile and face
With a great arm telescoped to the knob.

A hundred facets trace
Light shooting back into the prismed dark
To catch and place
Hall mirrors over and over showing
Faces sadly bending under hats into the rain.

 - Gay Street, Greenwich Village, 1960

When in 1960 I don’t know, so arbitrarily setting it to New Year’s Day.

Real Kill

Here’s a long autobiographical story by Patrick about his time in Missouri. I found two versions, one from 2011 and another from 2013. I spent a couple of hours editing the latter (mostly typos and formatting) and am posting the result here.


The airlines wouldn’t let us fly, so Mari and I returned to the States from Holland on the S.S. Rotterdam.  Mari was in a stupor induced by Thorazine, little red capsules that she had to pop two or three times a day.  It seemed pretty crazy to me that she could travel by ocean liner, but not airliner.  Seven days, if I remember correctly, with nothing but sea in all directions.  She could fall or jump.  On a plane, I’m pretty sure I could have kept her in her seat for a few hours, and anyway what harm could she have done?

A friend met us at the dock in New York and took us to his apartment in Freeport until we figured out how to get to Missouri.  I had sold my car before expatriating, or so I thought, two years before. Continue reading “Real Kill”

Letter to Patrick

Hey Patrick, it’s JP.

I’m wearing that robe tonight, the maroon one that you and Ivonne bought for me when I came to visit in Palma—so long ago it seems, although it was really just a year and a half ago. So I’m wearing the maroon robe and I’m thinking about you.

You know, things are going ok. Of course, I still miss you like crazy. It’s what, one in the morning and I’m thinking about you.

I think about you a lot.

Still, I’ve dialed it back some. Continue reading “Letter to Patrick”

Our Lives, Like Birds

Our lives are like birds.

Sometimes they fly together, sometimes one is above the other, or below, but ultimately every bird falls from the sky.

And yet, we somehow still see them, always flying, even after they disappear.

When they don’t return, we can only hope that they’ve just flown away.

(inspired by a conversation with Ivonne on 13 Sep ’17)

How Patrick’s Life Choices Affected My Own

Back in January 2015, Christine asked if my Dad’s life choices affected my own. I recorded this response while driving.

Naturally in this vastly interconnected yet simultaneously disconnected world, all things impact all other things. A mosquito bite in Africa can lead to profound consequences in North America. So, yes, there were certainly aspects of his decisions that impacted me, not the least of which was his need early on to strike out on a new life while my sisters and mother and I were left behind—or maybe we were the ones that struck out and he was the one left behind… philosophically, certainly not realistically. Hell, I just lost that thought. Continue reading “How Patrick’s Life Choices Affected My Own”

Teaching and Detective Work

Transcript of a conversation with Patrick about teaching and being a night watchman. It was very noisy in the restaurant.

Patrick: That was in Eau Gallie. [Florida]

John: Eau Gallie? Ok.

Patrick: Yeah, after that job, my mother in Winter Park had a neighbor who was the assistant principal of a Junior High school in Orlando, Florida. So she talked to him, and he arranged for me to get a job in Orlando teaching school – that’s my last teaching job in Florida.

John: But then you taught later in New York. But then you got fired from that one because of the …

Patrick: Yeah I got fired a lot of times. I tried to make a list of all the times I’ve been fired from. Very interesting. A night detective job … Continue reading “Teaching and Detective Work”

The Whole Point of My Life Was to Meet Stephanie

Another one of those long conversations with Patrick, sharing a bottle Scotch at my dining table and talking about life, responsibility, love, and minding our own business. This one is from 7 Oct 2014 and was transcribed by Christine. The audio file is too big to post here, but if you want to hear it, I can make it available elsewhere.

Patrick: Whatever happens, happens. I did what I had to do, or what I thought I had to do, and you did what you had to do did or what you thought you had to do. And we’re still doing the same.

JP: Un-huh, yep, yep!

Patrick: And of course there’s no one to judge us except you and me.

JP Yeah. Although, I think others who, whose lives we have touched…

Patrick: They can’t judge because they too…

JP: But they will judge whether…

Patrick: Ah yeah, well…

JP: … it’s appropriate. Again, we can’t control their actions.

Patrick: I judge myself more harshly I think than other people, even more harshly than my own kids, I think.

Patrick: On the other hand, I think I have to say, the whole point of my life was to meet Stephanie.

Patrick: And I’m sorry, but all the other stuff was an issue that was just on the way.

JP: Un-huh

Patrick: Because I wanted what I found, and I thought I found it with your mother, and then I thought I found it with, with Mari and I thought I found it with Lois … and I found it… with Stephanie. At this point, Jennifer says, “I’m so jealous of Stephanie.” [laughter]

Patrick: What can you say?

JP: Yeah, yeah. I…

Patrick: But, I was a human being who was also looking for love… Just like you guys.

JP: Un-huh, yep!

Patrick: And my family is just as fucked up as your family. [laughter]

JP: Yep!

Patrick: It’s just I was innocent, escaping that family, but I’m not innocent in escaping this family. I was guilty. On the other hand, I don’t believe I had a choice at that moment. Every time I think about it, I get to the point where I drive out of that schoolyard and I have just lost my job, and my car breaks down, and I lose my job at the newspaper that night, and I’m going then to a little money in Melbourne at the Satellite lounge playing bass, and I still have to wash the diapers.

JP: Yeah.

Patrick: And then I find a job in Chicago and go.

JP: Yep.

Patrick: At that point everything goes like it’s a quantum leap, and it’s a sense of freedom (long pause), and adventure, and love, and still, back there: JP, Jennifer. Oh God, you can’t imagine what it was like. I came back to visit you in the garage apartment in Melbourne, and you fell over the…

JP: Construction set.

Patrick: [laughs]

JP: I thought that was in New York.

Patrick: No no.

JP: Okay.

Patrick: Nah, I came to stay and was in the bed with Donna and you came in excited about what you’d made and you fell over it and broke it. [laughter]

JP: Yep

Patrick: Nothing’s changed!

JP: No [laughs]

JP: I tend to destroy the things I build.

Patrick: Ohh God.

JP: [laughs] …in some ways. I’m much better now at …

Patrick: That was just before I left for Europe. It’s been a long, a long trip.

JP: Yeah, a strange and wondrous journey.

Patrick: Yeah. I’m glad you’re ok.

JP: Yeah, yeah. {pause}. I’m glad you’re still a part of my life.

Patrick: Yeah {pause}. I hope you are able to eh {long pause}, make eh {heavy sigh}… find the other half of yourself … which is always, I think, by naturaleta, by nature, a man and a woman. I think it’s really, in my opinion, it has to be. I hope that you can do that.

JP: un-huh

Patrick: Because life would be so much more beautiful, that’s all. On the other hand, it’s not my business… [JP and Patrick laughs], it’s your business. I have to say eh, life with a woman is twice as valuable as a life without a woman because there are four eyes and the world is multiplied. Anyway, it’s not my business.

JP: [laughs]

Patrick: Wow! [Looking at the bottle of Scotch we’re drinking]

JP: [laughs] Yeah…I noticed the quantity there too…

Patrick: You are James’ son! [Jameson]

JP: Yes!

[laughter]

JP: Ahhh. Well hopefully you will sleep tonight.

Patrick: Well if I don’t,

JP: You’ll sleep tomorrow on the drive up!

Patrick: [laughs] Yeah, that’s right

JP: [laughs]

Patrick: If I fall asleep at the wheel—I’ve done it before—I did it twice, so I’ve… third time’s the charm.

JP: Don’t fall asleep.

Patrick: No, right.

JP: No, let me rephrase that, stay awake.

Patrick: Umm, yep

JP: And I’ll inject a penny into the [negativity] jar. [laughs] I don’t know when I started thinking about…

Patrick: Not using negatives?

JP: … trying to … You know I, there was, there was something or some… I don’t think it’s been that many years but I must have read something or considered something, I don’t know how it was, but maybe I was just thinking about verbs and I have been very negative about a lot of things and I need to stop that.

Patrick: But you don’t need to eh cram it down other peoples’ …

JP: Noooo, I know.

Patrick: I think it kind of becomes a little bit of a headache.

JP: It is, it is.

Patrick: I do the same, And Stephanie used to do it, but very gently. There’s a way of doing it…

JP: I’ve tried to start adopting a more positive outlook. I know I do it a lot with Christine and I think it’s partly because I have … for as long as we’ve know each other we’ve enjoyed each other’s company but it has always struck me as so… I guess I just wanted to share with my feeling that we need to make more positive things, just subconsciously.

Patrick: Yep.

JP: Maybe it’s something I picked up from Toastmasters too, I don’t know.

Patrick: Yeah, could be. But anyway, if you’re saying “Make it positive,” this is already a negative statement for Christine… what you’re doing is not fair… So, be careful.

JP: That’s true

Patrick: Yeah, anyway, it’s not my business, as I say. Did I tell you “It’s not myyyyyy business?” [laughter]

Patrick: I always say to my friends in Spain, Olvidé mi cremallera, “I forgot my zipper!”

[laughter]

Patrick: So, whenever you have the feeling of saying “I know more than you do by eh because you just said something you shouldn’t have said,” I always say “don’t.” It doesn’t contribute, but never mind, it’s not my business. [laughs] It is not my business. How do you say that positively? … “It’s only your business.”

JP: Yeah, that it. That’s right, this is your business. [laughs]

Patrick: This is your business [laughs].

Patrick: It’s been a good life.