Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Aimless Reading: The S's Part 36 (Rod Smith)

In Memory of My Theories
Smith, Rod
In Memory of My Theories

Purchased at Talking Leaves…Books when Rod came to read in Buffalo in, I think, 1997 or 1998. It was my first year in Buffalo. 

Rod read with Heather Fuller. I think it was Graham Foust, recently transplanted to Buffalo from DC, who invited the two of them to read. It was he who introduced them at the reading. I had seen the same two DC poets read in New York at the Segue Foundation earlier that year. It was just before I left NYC. I remember talking to Rod after that reading in the basement of the Segue Foundation.

After the reading in Buffalo we went to the Essex Street Pub and we stayed very late. We sat at a table in the back room. I still smoked then and I can remember smoking with Rod. 

Or maybe I just remember that Rod still smokes and that I used to smoke and that it was likely the two of us smoked together that night, as we were both smokers sitting in the same room at the same time, surrounded by alcohol and other smokers.

But that is not necessarily true. It is possible, though only remotely, that two heavy smokers sharing an evening in the company of others, some of them smokers, some of them no, might have refrained from smoking. 

I can picture the two of them, one in his mid-thirties with a dark mustache, an enigmatic smile on his face, the other, in his late twenties, still adorned in the trappings of his deadhead years, long hair pulled back in a ponytail falling over the collar of a colorful Bolivian alpaca sweater (purchased no doubt in some parking lot before a Grateful dead concert), sitting on opposite sides of the table, drinks before them, now listening to the conversation, now drifting off into reverie, and next to their pint glasses, or maybe shot glasses, or both, sit two unopened packs of cigarettes, both Marlboro red, the good stuff. 

Occasionally Rod or I look at the pack, maybe we do it at the same time, then make eye contact and laugh for a moment, as we both realize there is some kind of game going on here -- who can go the longest without a cigarette in a crowded bar -- Rod reaches for his pack, and in relief I reach for mine, then he smiles his devious smile and says, "Psych!"

We probably smoked together. 

I also remember telling a very raunchy story I had heard about the twisted sexual predilections of JFK while he was in the white house and how he used the secret service to feed his sexual jones while taking long hot baths to soothe his injured back. I remember looking across the table at Rod as I told the story and wondering to myself whether or not it was appropriate to tell such an in appropriate story to a stranger.

Rod didn't seem to mind, though.

from In Memory of My Theories

The Latest Attempt

at abandonment, a bruising
snap of pertain. initial

wrought mechanism
sutured by                  or

accomplished. Sedimentary articulation
become the lush agnostic coal of

past insurance agents. The second and final episode:
World at Will in which the sea demon ceases. . . . 

          and all that
bearable distress

"the way one talks"
"with some structure"
"escaped my notice"

Are not our feelings, as it were, inscribed
on the things around us. sandwich man, promoter, publicist,
wellspring, coxswain,

last weather
and well her rendering

of that which is distant:

debris, demands, basalt, insert
everything in this one

nothing in addition.

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