Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Making Money With My Math: My Lifter Puller Regrets

So I'm sitting here having a typical Ali night: Downloading music pseudo-illegally through a website that appears vaguely Argentinian, eating pretzel goldfish, attempting to explain (with my eyes) to two cats that I'm running low on the dry food so they'll be getting more of the plentiful wet food which should not be a problem since they LOVE the wet food and merely tolerate the dry food. But they seem upset by this change in policy.

So I'm having this typical night and I'm counting down the days until the 24th (when I can get that dry food, when I can pass that smog test, when I can file that paperwork, when I can drive across that morning bridge with a sense of purpose) and debating whether I should really call my next big (and I mean BIG) poem Unincorporated East Los Angeles or if I should just not call it anything and not write it and just let it be.

So I'm sitting here and I realize my biggest regret. No - not the obvious regrets that have traditionally traveled through my brain at bedtime, culminating in lovely and poetic but kind of sad Top 10 Lists of Regrets. (Sample Top 10 List, circa August 2008: 10. Never asked Alicia out in 200x; 9. Never asked Romalyn out in 199x; 8. Never asked Cathy A. out in 1983; 7, Did ask Karen S. out in 1983; 6. Didn't see Fishbone at First Ave. in 1986, choosing instead to study for a midterm; 5. Didn't stay in Brea for a few more months in 1990; 4. Didn't stay in Minneapolis for a few more months in 1991; 3. Didn't wait another few months to move in with A.E. in 2007; 2. Didn't take that job in Minneapolis in 2006; 1. Repeat regret number X because that's the one I really regret and...) But no there's a bigger regret and this one doesn't involve a girl, a city, a job, or a woman. No this regret involved a band.

You see, I was THERE.

I was there.

The whole time. I was right THERE.

I was even invited to go see them once. Brett (hey Brett - accept the friend request; don't let it just hang there like a fished-for compliment gone unflung) said "hey Ali - I know I said I like hate and I hate everything else but you gotta see this band with me tonight at the Entry. Lifter Puller. I like them."

I declined. Yeah Brett was the coolest guy in Minneapolis circa 1999 but I wasn't that far behind and I thought I knew better. I had heard the dreaded P word bandied about about Lifter Puller. P as in Punk. And I held steadfast to my belief that all music was good and continually evolved but that punk was born in '77 with the Ramones and it evolved beautifully into the second Violent Femmes album in '83 and why bother after that? So Brett took my no and never asked again, never suggested a second time, never made me a goddamn mix CD/cassette to try and convince me that Lifter Puller was awesome. (I, on the other hand, never give up. For example, I still try to convince the world that Mark Eitzel is a fucking goddamn genius and no one believes me. They don't want to believe me. They never will believe me. But he is. He is. He is.)

But this isn't about Mark and his big gay heart that will never not remember. This is about Lifter Puller. This is about a Minneapolis band that existed between 1994 to 2000. I lived there form 1996 to 2002. I was THERE. They probably played locally 1,000 times. Yes, I'm exaggerating but I'm not about to go to fan sites and scour the old touring schedules to get an accurate count. Let's just say they were incessant about plugging in the amps and educating the local kids and women and men. (the song that follows is by Lifter Puller; the video, though entertaining, is not)

Half of Lifter Puller became 40% of The Hold Steady, a band that you know I like and I write about frequently. The Hold Steady have continued Lifter Puller's love of touring and I have happily seen them three times. But Lifter Puller is gone and they're not coming back (not everyone comes back.) In the final act of their final song on Lifter Puller's final album, a man (Nightclub Dwight) was killed and his club (The Nice Nice) was burned down. That's about as destructive as it comes. In the first song of the first Hold Steady album, a new gauntlet was thrown down and a new American history was laid down carefully, decade by decade. No one was going back.

The simple story would be that the strongest common link between the two bands is the obvious one: the songs / the songwriter / the singer. Craig Finn was there for both of them. And let's run through that story a little more carefully:

The songs: Brilliant in both bands. But kind of different. Finn has explained that The Hold Steady is the classic rock counterpoint to Lifter Puller's more experimental Punk. That's a good enough generality. But really the continuum between the two bands is cleaner than that. The songs are about boys and girls and women and men and drugs and drinking and rock and punk and crime and drugs (again) and girls (one more time). The songs are classic rock and classic punk and classic love and classic hate. I have no preference. I love both bands.

"Math is money and money is math. Leather vest and assless chaps" - Math Is Money, Lifter Puller

But yeah I had the chance to see them. I had the chance to sing along. In '96 when they weren't great yet but they were so so close. In '97 when there was no looking back. In '98 when Brett made the offer and I couldn't have made a bigger mistake. In '99 when - admittedly - I needed the punk and the rock. In 2000 when it neared its end and Fiestas and Fiascos, my likely choice for best album of the decade (Separation Sunday by the Steady will likely be #2) was released.

And where was I in 2000? I think I was listening to the quiet folk music and downloading Boz Scaggs 23 years late. Interstingly, six years later after hearing The Hold Steady, Fiestas and Fiascos was the first album I legally downloaded. Though I found genius and joy in its songs, the one Lifter Puller song I kept playing in those early discovery days was Viceburgh from one of the other albums. God, I could listen to that song every day of my life and I still wouldn't be sure if I envied the protagonists or was happy I never became then:

"Sad ravers in freight elevators, sucking on skyscrapers, living on Life Savers baby" - Viceburgh - Lifter Puller

It wasn't until THIS summer - the summer of whatever the fuck this summer is about - that I truly got into Fiestas and Fiascos. But I had my chance, nine years earlier when they released that masterpiece and toured for the final time. I had my chance but I stayed inside and played Scrabble. How would my life have changed? Would I have dove into a different kind of darkness? Would I have worn Indian fringes? Would I have moved to Brooklyn? No one knows.

The songwriter: Maybe Craig Finn knows. It's clear - to me, to others, but not to everyone - that the man is the greatest songwriter working today. And I mean truly working - constant touring, 3 LFTR PLLR albums plus countless singles and a perfect EP, 4 HLD STDY albums plus a live one and some other stuff. All in the last 12--13 years. And a thousand shows. PLUS he had to live the LIFE necessary to write those songs. And while I don't necessarily think he was Nightclub Dwight or the Man with the Japanese Hand Fan or Katrina or Juanita or Holly or Gideon or Charlemagne, he had to have been someone. And he had to have spent time at those places: 15th & Franklin and Mission Viejo and the LBI and the Nassau Coliseum and the Nankin and 66th & Nicollet and Osseo and Highway 169 and First Ave. and Santa Cruz and Bloomington and Jefferson Ave. and Dogtown and Payne Ave. (Full disclosure: I have been to ALL of those places except the LBI and Santa Cruz and I would have gone to Santa Cruz that one weekend in 2006 if Caroline had returned my calls.) So thanks Craig - you've made me happy. (the song that follows is by Lifter Puller; the video, though entertaining, is not)

The singer: I'm almost out of words and I can't find any good live Lifter Puller footage so let's just move into the present and the future to define Craig Finn: a live Hold Steady performance that wonderfully displays his black-framed squints and manic hand-singing AND a new video of an unreleased song, the smoothest/mellowest Craig had ever been and he still nails it so beautifully:

So I was there and I didn't go. I caught the later years of genius, years that will likely go on and on. I missed the beginning. That's all. It's not so bad.


Or is it?

Consider this: I actively paid money to see swing bands perform live in the nineties. I actively avoided Lifter Puller. I shall not be forgiven. I saw the goddamn Big Bad Royal Crown Squirrel Voodoo Daddy Revue Zippers and missed out on:

"Power to the people making money with their mouths."


"I like some funky drums and I hate some chunky drummers."


"We stepped out of the Jersey Pines, headed straight for the neon signs."


"Did you fucking fall asleep on the futon?"

"Woke up on 15th and Franklin with some straight looking chick and some prick she picked up from the Nankin."


"I want Nightclub Dwight dead in his grave and I want the Nice Nice up in blazes."

I will survive this regret. Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is a day with hope and potential. Tomorrow is mine. (Note: Sharona is coming back to Monk - for one episode!)

"Even if you threw like Vida Blue, I'd hit on you like Killebrew."

So I've spent this one regret, my biggest regret. I'm too tired to listen to anymore of their songs. It's past midnight. I must have other regrets. I will close the laptop and prepare the bed for sleep. I will close my eyes and make a new list in my head: Top 10 Regrets, July 22, 12:05am. Number 10. Never.....


Maybe I can make amends on that one. Maybe I can do something about it. I have a picture to look at and a poem to reread. Then, I will sleep.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Laurie and Lou

In lieu of "new" material, here's a poem I wrote back in 2003 during my "celebrity poem" phase. In it I imagine the daily workings of the relationship between performance "art"ist Laurie Anderson and "sing"er/songwriter/ bon vivant Lou Reed. Back then some were suspicious of their relationship ("isn't Reed gay?" "isn't Anderson a lesbian who used to date Yoko?") (Apparently no and no. Or not anymore and not anymore.) Anyway, they got married in 2008. Let's celebrate their love but first let me apologize sincerely to Lou and Laurie for my assumptions about their personal habits. Enjoy:

Lou Reed says to Laurie
"I'll get the junk this time
I'm going to the store to buy some meat
Leg of lamb this time
I'll pick up the junk
From Petey by the elevated
Train in the sun
It's on the way home"

Laurie says to Lou
"Identity. Identity. Identity
There is a leg of lamb
Called identity"

Lou Reed says to Laurie
"I used to snap my fingers
The girls lined up like brownies
Manny with his boom box
Rudy and his bag of rocks
You know that was the first time
I heard anyone say 'Homey'
It's the ugliness I miss the most"

Laurie says to Lou
"What the fuck
Are you talking about?
I am an acrobat
I am a seamstress
I will make the uniform
You wear as you fall"

Lou Reed says to Laurie
"I'll get the junk this time
No need to call up
The guy with the goods uptown
Encyclopedia Brown
He's been inconsistent
Like Dillon in the movies"

Laurie says to Lou
"Approximate. Identity. Approximate
There is a tug of war
In our garden
Let's go see"

Lou Reed says to Laurie
"Doormen tipped their hats to me
From Brooklyn to the Bowery
I know that's small, but rock and roll's
Not everything, not anymore
Did Apollonia 6 write their own songs?"

Laurie says to Lou
"Repent. Reevaluate. Repent
There is a superstar named Fagen
He's eating breakfast by the pier
Word on the street
Is that the word on the street
Is ambivalence"

Lou Reed says to Laurie
"I'll get the junk this time
Leg of lamb and key lime pie
Cut the junk and cue the cry
The telephone is ringing
Is that my mother on the phone?"

Friday, July 10, 2009


Creatures currently in my apartment: 3 (me, my cat, other cat)

Fans currently running in my apartment: 3 (window fan, ceiling fan, tower fan)

Conflicting digital time displays currently being displayed in my apartment: 4 (10:07pm on the cable box; 10:05pm on the Bose Wave; 10:09pm on the laptop; 1:59am on the stove)

What's on TV: Knocked Up

Pillows currently visible to me: 6 (4 bed pillows, 2 couch pillows)

What was for dinner: Granola (with raisins) and peach kefir

What I drove past 3 hours ago: Lakewood Center, on Lakewood Boulevard, in Lakewood, CA

Significance of Lakewood Center: It's a mall. Been there once before. I went to see The Jetsons movie with my friend Debbie on July 10, 1990, exactly 19 years ago to the day.

Significance of The Jetsons movie: I had been suffering from the first - and worst - case of insomnia in my life. Three straight nights of no sleep. Panic attacks in the night and during the day. Driving around the Southland in a daze. Seeking clarity and meaning in life. Debbie suggested a movie. I picked her up in Cerritos. I told her that I sincerely believed that I would never sleep again. I assumed that I would just stay awake and awake and more awake... until the body quit and the mind imploded. That I would never rest again, that my sleeping dreams were all behind me. Then, about halfway through the film, I fell asleep. I remember the joy I felt when I was gently poked by Debbie who told me the movie was over. The credits rolled and the lights slowly came to life. She had let me sleep and that I am thankful for. My insomnia was over.

What else I am thankful for: The flexibility and understanding shown today by Gabi at the credit union.

How quickly I realized that I was unintentionally driving past the Lakewood Center, a place I had forgotten about and never once considered again until tonight: 3 seconds

How quickly I figured out the July 10 coincidence: 2 minutes

Why I was in Lakewood: Happy accident

Where I went after that: Driving around, remembering. Then I came home.

Flavor of Gatorade G2 on the table next to me: Orange

What I am going to do next: Cookie, sleep

Friday, July 03, 2009

From Albatross to Marbles to Beckon: Ali Finds a Bunch of Old Poems and Papers and Shares His Enthusiastic Perspective

I have the day off. The weather is perfect. I'm well-rested, I've slept it all off. So how am I spending my holiday? Reading through my old notebooks and typewritten pages from (roughly) the years 1983 through 1993.

I have them stacked - 20 notebooks and/or folders high - in the high shelves of my kitchen. It's a strange sight - coffee mugs and drink glasses on the lowest shelf, plates and bowls on the next one up, dense notebooks filled with 3/4-attentive notes for psychology lectures and poems in the margins and back pages. Yes, I was a poet then. I tried my hand at writing fiction here and there. The poetry worked well. The fiction struggled.

I'm spending the day rereading the contents of my mind from 20+ years ago, hoping to gain perspective on where I find myself today. There are no clean/clear answers. There's a lot of longing in these poems. And surprisingly many of my attempts at humor back then still generate laughs today. But most of all there's a young man who took himself and his thoughts (moreso than his experiences) way too seriously.

Yes, some of it is poignant and direct. A poem called Sad Song, written on May 8, 1988, two days after the end of the longest relationship of my life up to that point, is sad and beautiful and heartbreakingly honest. If I could remember exactly where it is, among the giant paper piles in front of me, I would quote from it.

But I will quote from the poem that impressed one of my best friends back in 1984, a friend to whom I was very impressionable. The poem was called Albatross. We were going to name our literary journal after it. We never got that far. The opening lines of Albatross (12/2/84):
When morning arrives, let's all hold hands
And spit our existence into a pool of melted popsicles
And we'll wind up in intensive care
But who cares?
And we'll comb our hair with tree branches
Don't you dare...touch my hair
Okay, is it appropriate for me to critique my teenage self? First of all, the final two lines of the verse are fucking amazing. I slay the forced existentialism that preceded it (line 2 where I even include the word "existence"). I make the reader forget the wordplay (care/cares) and the fact that three out of six lines starting with "and" is two too many.

I was so proud of Albatross back in the eighties. Its one word title would signify the writer in me to the friends close to me, much like my creative mid-nineties self could be defined by those two one-word poem titles: Marbles and Bakersfield. (If any of you know the whereabouts of Marbles or Bakersfield, please let me know. I can't find a single copy of either one - electronic or paper.)

But who am I kidding? Sure, I wrote the occasional philosophical thinkpiece like Albatross. But mostly my 1980s poems were there to house the contents of my heart. Love poems - beautifully worded, forever unrequited. You see, my heart gave way to my head (still does) and my poems allowed me to think my way through every misguided crush, every appropriate crush, and every missed crushless opportunity staring me in the face. I mean - poetry aside - who would go out on a date with an alluring girl like S.M. and end the date by driving past D.L.'s house, all the while telling S.M. of his unrefined lust for D.L.? I would, that's who. It was April 1 1984, the day Marvin Gaye died. We went to see Footloose. And not only did I fuck things up by discussing my love for another girl, I outed myself as an apprentice stalker by driving past that other girl's house. Which was completely out of the way - at least six miles away from Doylestown. Six miles was a long way for teenagers back in '84.

This perspective that I have now, it was absent then. But I'm more of a blogger than a poet these days so let me just get it all out here in the open, in this forum, at this moment - Sue Morris, I sincerely apologize for making us drive past Donna Lutz's house on our one and only date. Oh and Marvin Gaye, I apologize to you too. On your death day, I sullied your name and your sexual legacy.

But I'm here to write about my poetry. Back to my pile of papers. What is this beautifully typeset collection of loose pages? Holy crap, it's The November Magazines!!?? My first attempt at anthologizing myself! On the title page, beneath the brilliant title, I write: 
What brought me here. A non-linear history in three chapters. A history of the great glorious Harvest Years (1985 through 1990 or, more liberally, 1983 through 1993).
So what did I choose to include in The November Magazines? I am both apprehensive and excited as I consider turning the page. If this collection truly does end in 1993, then it might just include Marbles and Bakersfield, though I believe the latter was written in 1994. Damn, that's a fact I should remember. Okay, turn the page:

Wow. I forgot about this. Centered, in glorious unknown font, I offer the reader two bookend quotes, from the qualified beginning and ending years I promised on the title page:
I never play basketball now - Paddy Macaloon, 1983
I used to shoot hoop - Snoop Doggy Dogg, 1993
Damn I had perspective even then. I even got the "Doggy" into Snoop's name. He wouldn't drop it until 1995.  Turn the page. It's the first chapter of a novel I don't remember writing. Wait a second - The November Magazines is NOT a poetry collection. It's the NOVEL I DON'T REMEMBER WRITING. Here's chapter two. And chapter three. 

And it's kind of awesome. I need time to think these pages through. Three chapters is a lot for me. Sure, each chapter bears little resemblance to the others. Each paragraph bears little resemblance to the others. No discernible plot. Just memories and more and more memories. It's a history of my life. And indeed it does cover those years. I'll give you the final sentence of each chapter. It will be sufficient. It will explain me to you (then and now):
You could have kept your promise of eternal love but you didn't. (end of chapter 1)

There is a blessing on the ground. (end of chapter 2)

In the November magazines, there's always a picture of you trundling up the riverside, walking back from your car, clutching the November magazines. (end of chapter 3, also the greatest sentence I've ever written)
One reason for my confusion: I recall being overly proud of the title The November Magazines and used it more than once. Whenever I anthologized or compliationed myself in the mid-90s, it was my go-to title.

More poetry. This is called The Night Before Thanksgiving. Written on the night before Thanksgiving (11/25/92). This one I remember every second of, every moment. I wrote it for someone I missed dearly in 1992.  I wrote it for someone I unreasonably avoided in 2009, as recently as a week ago. Sorry for the avoidance. Here's where I get the most direct in a generally indirect poem:
Just think somehow
Of pleasant thoughts of me
The man you remember
The solitude, the sender
Of all love your way
Anonymous and in decay, I miss you
Wow. Some things just don't change. I turn the page (real time) and there is another poem about the same person, the same fear and feeling. Wow, Ali, just because someone doesn't call you back within two days doesn't mean you have to go all fatalistic. From Dearest You (11/27/92, two days after the night before Thanksgiving):
Dearest you, do you still
Wear black against your will
Say words for sake of listening
To the blind forbidden thrill
To the deaf and deafening shrill
Yes, there should be a question mark somewhere in there. And yes, it's pretty great. Next, there's some claptrap (yes I used that word) about "that blessed year of 1989." Really, all that was blessed in 1989 was February and March and November and December. The rest of it I could do without.

I think it's coming.

Yes, chronologically, it had to show up some time. I found one of my great long lost poems. Marbles. 6/21/93. Let me read it now.

(Two minutes later). Surprisingly, not that good. But in a few places it shines:
you had the kind of broken smile
reserved for a metaphor writer
in the depths of the loneliness jungle
a gallon of heartache, a liter of will
can't be a writer if I can't buy a thrill
Yes, I did switch to not uppercasing the first letter of each line. It happened some time between November 1992 and June 1993. Since then I've alternated between the two methods pretty randomly. Please let Bakersfield be found soon. If Love Had a Halo. No. Swirl. Better. Ever the Fortunate Soul. Forgotten but pretty good. No Bakersfield in this pile. It's okay. Something has to remain lost or we wouldn't bother looking.

Look, here's a printout of a letter from 1993 I was planning to mail to my friend John. Or my other friend John. Not sure. What's important is that I once truly, sincerely believed that Pain Makes You Beautiful by The Judybats was the best album of the first half of 1993. In retrospect, it's clearly Exile in Guyville by Liz Phair (release date 6/22/93 - the DAY AFTER I WROTE BAKERSFIELD). Sure, it's possible I just hadn't heard Exile yet (it's not on the top 5 list) and sure the Judybats were underrated but still.... I have Pure Guava by Ween at #3 so that could be #1 and.... wait, you probably don't care.

More stuff from the 92-94 era. Pretty good. Here's the awesome String of Pearls (132 lines of pure cleverness). Here's another letter to one of the Johns. In which I offer 11 alternate names for testicles (Judds, Dibbits, Clem & Phil). In which I ask "How many Long Beach Crips does it take to change the lightbulb?" (Yes Doggystyle had just come out. Yes I answered the question. Yes I can tell you that it takes 5 of them. No I cannot elaborate although I do so in the letter.)

No sign of Bakersfield (interestingly, it was originally called Riverside.) And suddenly we go back into the eighties. We move from odd-fonted early Word printouts to crusty typewritten pages. Something called I Wanna Be Degraded from 12/7/84. Five days after Albatross but a million years removed. I simply will not quote from it. I recover from whatever degrading angst was torturing me to write Walled City eight days later on 12/15/84 (Inside my walled city, I can look at the sky / I will always know that no one's looking down at me). Wordplay. Then - January 1985. One of my favorite months ever. It's when Kaari blew on the key. It's when"No Impulse Shopping" became a catchphrase. And these last two sentences will only both make sense to me. Some of you will get one; some of you will get the other. No one will get both. There will be a future blog post to explain everything. Yes, Kaari took the key - actually the entire keychain - and placed it in her gloved hands and blew on them with her warm breath.

One last poem because my fingers are tired. The Sun Never Shines for Darkness (2/4/85) in which I lament my advancing age and disappeared childhood. I was still a teenager. The opening lines:
I hate it when they call me "sir"
I'm only a guy with a life
I hate it when they call me "mister"
I'm just a guy who's real nice
From there I write a life story of a poem, from baby to boy to man to corpse, age impending and relentless. I'm a fatalist by the third verse and a reluctant atheist by the fifth. I realize now that the poem was inspired by an incident that happened to me at the movie theater where I worked. I was the ticket seller that night. A customer called me "sir." I was horrified. I felt old. That one perceived but not real slight inspired a carefully written, precisely metered 48-line poem (12 verses of 4, every third verse indented). Two decades later, a painful divorce would inspire maybe one poem and half a bad short story. Life.

I promised that would be the last poem. And it was. But I just found a note. The handwritten note is from me to my then-girlfriend Lauren. Judging from the sentiments expressed, the note is from the first year of our 3.5 year relationship. I read it and I am flabbergasted by what I wrote. Was I really that much of a smushy-voiced sentimentalist? Did I actually say "weekends" instead of "weekend" when I meant to say "weekend" because I was invoking the ex's lingo? Did I really refer to myself by her nickname for me (the nickname I hated) not once but twice, in two different forms? Did I really substitute the word "kiwi" for vagina? Yes to all of that.

And another note. To the same person. Written on the letterhead of my old Ventura County job. In which I leave my work number. Because she's sleeping in and I'm heading to work. This must have been when I was living in Newbury Park. Anyway, in the note, I propose marriage. I don't remember doing that. I don't believe she answered. We never made it that far.

Here's something called Beckon. It's a song not a poem so you didn't catch me in a lie. It's a song because I called it a song back then (in a note at the bottom). I can imagine singing it and I probably have, to myself, toward the microphone of the mid-priced boombox I owned then. It's from 10/2/85. I begin by repeating the line "My only other dream was too real to mention" 14 times. I then follow this with an eight-line verse. I know enough about myself to be certain that I wrote this about a dream I had about a girl named Gretchen. We worked at the movie theater in the summer of '85. She went away to college (St. Olaf, Northfield, MN) and I pined/longed for her. I never asked her out because I was a shy and shyness made for better poetry. I remember the dream. In it Gretchen and I drive across the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, toward the east bank of the University. We go to the Big Ten bar and eat subs and drank beer. Some other people from the movie theater are there. This never happened in real life but I remember the dream so well even today.

When we worked together at the theater, we were both given performance evaluations by our boss, Mr. Engebretson (shout out to Mr. E!). I don't remember the range of the rating scale but I know that Gretchen's final score was 14 and mine was 8. Her score was the highest of everyone there. (Why did we so blatantly share our confidential scores? Oh because we were young and we didn't give a fuck.) My 8 was actually pretty good; Mr. E was a harsh reviewer. Anyway, that's why I repeated that line in the poem/song 14 times. And that's why the subsequent verse was 8 lines long. Because of our ratings. That little trickery of numbers and words sums up my relationships with females in the 80s (and half of the 90s and maybe my whole life if I think of it): a private joke, written in a private forum, full of meaning and obscure references, dripping with personal importance... never read or sung aloud to its intended recipient, almost never given on printed page to its intended recipient.

And then, four years later, when I did give another girl everything I wrote about her and she said "Is this about me?" as she sat upon the late, lamented mini-papasan chair from Pier 1, in the sunny second floor apartment at La Casa Brea in Brea, I couldn't just say yes. I had to give a qualified yes with a lengthy explanation. Could anyone have more blatantly walked into more missed opportunities than me? But there's a silver lining in all of this regret. Two silver linings, actually. One, at least I have the poetry. Two, some of those girls - they're still single. 

(I will be posting some of these old, long-lost, pre-Internet poems on my poetry blog - link at right - in the coming weeks/months/years. Happy Fourth)