Money poems/ page 52 of 64 /
Ye ductile youths, whose rising sun
Hath many circles still to run;
"My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way:
anyone who understands them eventually recognizes them as
nonsensical, when he has used them -- as steps -- to climb
up beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder
after he has climbed up it.)" -- Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus
SANDBOX MINUS JOHN DILLINGER EQUALS WHAT?Often I return to the cover of Trout Fishing in America. Itook the baby and went down there this morning. They werewatering the cover with big revolving sprinklers. I saw somebread lying on the grass. It had been put there to feed thepigeons. The old Italians are always doing things like that. Thebread had been turned to paste by the water and was squashedflat against the grass. Those dopey pigeons were waiting untilthe water and grass had chewed up the bread for them, sothey wouldn't have to do it themselves. I let the baby play in the sandbox and I sat down on a benchand looked around. There was a beatnik sitting at the otherend -of the bench. He had his sleeping bag beside him and hewas eating apple turnovers. He had a huge sack of apple turn-overs and he was gobbling them down like a turkey. It wasprobably a more valid protest than picketing missile bases. The baby played in the sandbox. She had on a red dressand the Catholic church was towering up behind her red dress.There was a brick john between her dress and the church. Itwas there by no accident. Ladies to the left and gents to theright. A red dress, I thought. Wasn't the woman who set JohnDillinger up for the FBI wearing a red dress? They calledher "The Woman in Red. " It seemed to me that was right. It was a red dress, but sofar, John Dillinger was nowhere in sight. my daughterplayed alone in the sandbox. Sandbox minus John Dillinger equals what? The beatnik went and got a drink of water from the fountainthat was crucified on the wall of the brick john, more towardthe gents than the ladies. He had to wash all those apple turn-overs down his throat. There were three sprinklers going in the park. There wasone in front of the Benjamin Franklin statue and one to theside of him and one just behind him. They were all turning incircles. I saw Benjamin Franklin standing there patientlythrough the water. The sprinkler to the side of Benjamin Franklin hit the left-hand tree. It sprayed hard against the trunk and knocked someleaves down from the tree, and then it hit the center tree,sprayed hard against the trunk and more leaves fell. Then itsprayed against Benjamin Franklin, the water shot out to thesides of the stone and a mist drifted down off the water. Ben-jamin Franklin got his feet wet. The sun was shining down hard on me. The sun was brightand hot. After a while the sun made me think of my own dis-comfort. The only shade fell on the beatnik. The shade came down off the Lillie Hitchcock Colt statueof some metal fireman saving a metal broad from a mentalfire. The beatnik now lay on the bench and the shade was twofeet longer than he was. A friend of mine has written a poem about that statue. God-damn, I wish he would write another poem about that statue,SO it would give me some shade two feet longer than my body. I was right about "The Woman in Red, " because ten min-utes later they blasted John Dillinger down in the sandbox.The sound of the machine-gun fire startled the pigeons andthey hurried on into the church. My daughter was seen leaving in a huge black car shortlyafter that. She couldn't talk yet, but that didn't make any dif-ference. The red dress did it all. John Dillinger's body lay half in and half out of the sand-box, more toward the ladies than the gents. He was leakingblood like those capsules we used to use with oleomargarine,in those good old days when oleo was white like lard. The huge black car pulled out and went up the street, bat-light shining off the top. It stopped in front of the ice-creamparlor at Filbert and Stockton. An agent got out and went in and bought two hundreddouble-decker ice-cream cones. He needed a wheelbarrowto get them back to the car.
THE LAST TIME I SAW TROUT FISHING IN AMERICAThe last time we met was in July on the Big Wood River, tenmiles away from Ketchum. It was just after Hemingway hadkilled himself there, but I didn't know about his death at thetime. I didn't know about it until I got back to San Franciscoweeks after the thing had happened and picked up a copy ofLife magazine. There was a photograph of Hemingway on thecover. "I wonder what Hemingway's up to, " I said to myself. Ilooked inside the magazine and turned the pages to his death.Trout Fishing in America forgot to tell me about it. I'm cer-tain he knew. It must have slipped his mind. The woman who travels with me had menstrual cramps.She wanted to rest for a while, so I took the baby and my spin-ning rod and went down to the Big Wood River. That's whereI met Trout Fishing in America. I was casting a Super-Duper out into the river and lettingit swing down with the current and then ride on the water upclose to the shore. It fluttered there slowly and Trout Fish-ing in America watched the baby while we talked. I remember that he gave her some colored rocks to playwith. She liked him and climbed up onto his lap and she start-ed putting the rocks in his shirt pocket. We talked about Great Falls, Montana. I told Trout Fish-ing in America about a winter I spent as a child in GreatFalls."It was during the war and I saw a Deanna Durbin movie seventimes, "I said. The baby put a blue rock in Trout Fishing in America'sshirt pocket and he said, "I've been to Great Falls manytimes. I remember Indians and fur traders. I rememberLewis and Clark, but I don't remember ever seeing a DeannaDurbin movie in Great Falls." "I know what you mean, " I said. "The other people inGreat Falls did not share my enthusiasm for Deanna Durbin,The theater was always empty. There was a darkness to thattheater different from any theater I've been in since. Maybeit was the snow outside and Deanna Durbin inside. I don'tknow what it was." "What was the name of the movie?" Trout Fishing in Am-erica said. "I don't know, " I said. "She sang a lot. Maybe she was achorus girl who wanted to go to college or she was a richgirl or they needed money for something or she did somethingWhatever it was about, she sang! and sang! but I can't re-member a God-damn word of it. "One afternoon after I had seen the Deanna Durbin movieagain, I went down to the Missouri River. Part of the Mis-souri was frozen over. There was a railroad bridge there.I was very relieved to see that the Missouri River had notchanged and begun to look like Deanna Durbin. "I'd had a childhood fancy that I would walk down to theMissouri River and it would look just like a Deanna Durbinmovie--a chorus girl who wanted to go to college or she wasa rich girl or they needed money for something or she dids something. "To this day I don't know why I saw that movie seventimes. It was just as deadly as The Cabinet of Doctor Cali-gari. I wonder if the Missouri River is still there?" I said. "It is, " Trout Fishing in America said smiling. "But itdoesn't look like Deanna Durbin. " The baby by this time had put a dozen or so of the coloredrocks in Trout Fishing in America's shirt pocket. He lookedat me and smiled and waited for me to go on about GreatFalls, but just then I had a fair strike on my Super-Duper. Ijerked the rod back and missed the fish. Trout Fishing in America said, "I know that fish who juststruck. You'll never catch him. " "Oh, " I said. "Forgive me, " Trout Fishing in America said. "Go onahead and try for him. He'll hit a couple of times more, butyou won't catch him. He's not a particularly smart fish. Justlucky. Sometimes that's all you need. " "Yeah, " I said. "You're right there. " I cast out again and continued talking about Great Falls. Then in correct order I recited the twelve least importantthings ever said about Great Falls, Montana. For the twelfthand least important thing of all, I said, "Yeah, the telephonewould ring in the morning. I'd get out of bed. I didn't have toanswer the telephone. That had all been taken care of, yearsin advance. "It would still be dark outside and the yellow wallpaper inthe hotel room would be running back off the light bulb. I'dput my clothes on and go down to the restaurant where mystepfather cooked all night. "I'd have breakfast, hot cakes, eggs and whatnot. Thenhe'd make my lunch for me and it would always be the samething: a piece of pie and a stone-cold pork sandwich. After-wards I'd walk to school. I mean the three of us, the HolyTrinity: me, a piece of pie, and a stone-cold pork sandwich.This went on for months. "Fortunately it stopped one day without my having to doanything serious like grow up. We packed our stuff and lefttown on a bus. That was Great Falls, Montana. You say theMissouri River is still there?" "Yes, but it doesn't look like Deanna Durbin, " Trout Fish-ing in America said. "I remember the day Lewis discoveredthe falls. They left their camp at sunrise and a few hourslater they came upon a beautiful plain and on the plain weremore buffalo than they had ever seen before in one place. "They kept on going until they heard the faraway sound ofa waterfall and saw a distant column of spray rising and dis-appearing. They followed the sound as it got louder and loud-er. After a while the sound was tremendous and they were atthe great falls of the Missouri River. It was about noon whenthey got there. "A nice thing happened that afternoon, they went fishingbelow the falls and caught half a dozen trout, good ones, too,from sixteen to twenty-three inches long. "That was June 13, 1805. "No, I don't think Lewis would have understood it if theMissouri River had suddenly begun to look like a Deanna Dur-bin movie, like a chorus girl who wanted to go to college, "Trout Fishing in America said.
IN THE CALIFORNIA BUSHI've come home from Trout Fishing in America, the highwaybent its long smooth anchor about my neck and then stopped.Now I live in this place. It took my whole life to get here, toget to this strange cabin above Mill Valley. We're staying with Pard and his girlfriend. They haverented a cabin for three months, June 15th to September 15th,for a hundred dollars. We are a funny bunch, all living heretogether. Pard was born of Okie parents in British Nigeria and cameto America when he was two years old and was raised as aranch kid in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. He was a machinegunner in the Second World War, againstthe Germans. He fought in France and Germany. SergeantPard. Then he came back from the war and went to somehick college in Idaho. After he graduated from college, he went to Paris and be-came an Existentialist, He had a photograph taken of Exis-tentialism and himself sitting at a sidewalk cafe. Pard wasWearing a beard and he looked as if he had a huge soul, withbarely enough room in his body to contain it. When Pard came back to America from Paris, he workedas a tugboat man on San Francisco Bay and as a railroadman in the roundhouse at Filer, Idaho. Of course, during this time he got married and had a kid.The wife and kid are gone now, blown away like apples by thefickle wind of the Twentieth Century. I guess the fickle windof alltime. The family that fell in the autumn. After he split up with his wife, he went to Arizona and wasa reporter and editor of newspapers. He honky-tonked inNaco, a Mexican border town, drank illescal Mescal Triunfo, playedcards and shot the roof of his house full of bullet holes. Pard tells a story about waking one morning in Naco, allhungover, with the whips and jingles. A friend of his was sit-ting at the table with a bottle of whisky beside him. Pard reached over and picked up a gun off a chair andtook aim at the whisky bottle and fired. His friend was thensitting there, covered with flecks of glass, blood and whisky."What the fuck you do that for?" he said. Now in his late thirties Pard works at a print shop for$1. 35 an hour. It is an avant-garde print shop. They printpoetry and experimental prose. They pay him $1. 35 an hourfor operating a linotype machine. A $1. 35 linotype operatoris hard to find, outside of Hong Kong or Albania. Sometimes when he goes down there, they don't even haveenough lead for him. They buy their lead like soap, a bar ortwo at a time. Pard's girlfriend is a Jew. Twenty-four years old, gettingover a bad case of hepatitis, she kids Pard about a nude pho-tograph of her that has the possibility of appearing in Playboymagazine. "There's nothing to worry about, " she says. "If they usethat photograph, it only means that 12, 000, 000 men will lookat my boobs. " This is all very funny to her. Her parents have money. Asshe sits in the other room in the California bush, she's onher father's payroll in New York. What we eat is funny and what we drink is even more hilar-ious: turkeys, Gallo port, hot dogs, watermelons, Popeyes,salmon croquettes, frappes, Christian Brothers port, orangerye bread, canteloupes, Popeyes, salads, cheese--booze,grub and Popeyes. Popeyes? We read books like The Thief's Journal, Set This Houseon Fire The Naked Lunch, Krafft-Ebing. We read Krafft-Ebing aloud all the time as if he were Kraft dinner. "The mayor of a small town in Eastern Portugal was seenone morning pushing a wheelbarrow full of sex organs intothe city hall. He was of tainted family. He had a woman'sshoe in his back pocket. It had been there all night. " Thingslike this make us laugh. The woman who owns this cabin will come back in the aut-umn. She's spending the summer in Europe. When she comesback, she will spend only one day a week out here: Saturday. She will never spend the night because she's afraid to. There is something here that makes her afraid. Pard and his girlfriend sleep in the cabin and the baby sleeps in the basement, and we sleep outside under the apple tree, waking at dawn to stare out across San Francisco Bay and then we go back to sleep again and wake once more, this time for a very strange thing to happen, and then we go back to sleep again after it has happened, and wake at sunrise to stare out across the bay. Afterwards we go back to sleep again and the sun rises steadily hour after hour, staying in the branches of a eucalyp- tus tree just a ways down the hill, keeping us cool and asleep and in the shade. At last the sun pours over the top of the tree and then we have to get up, the hot sun upon us. We go into the house and begin that two-hour yak-yak acti- vity we call breakfast. We sit around and bring ourselves slowly back to consciousness, treating ourselves like fine pieces of china, and after we finish the last cup of the last cup of the last cup of coffee, it's time to think about lunch or go to the Goodwill in Fairfax. So here we are, living in the California bush above Mill Valley. We could look right down on the main street of Mill Valley if it were not for the eucalyptus tree. We have to park the car a hundred yards away and come here along a tunnel- like path. If all the Germans Pard killed during the war with his machine-gun were to come and stand in their uniforms around this place, it would make us pretty nervous. There's the warm sweet smell of blackberry bushes along the path and in the late afternoon, quail gather around a dead unrequited tree that has fallen bridelike across the path. Some- times I go down there and jump the quail. I just go down there to get them up off their butts. They're such beautiful birds. They set their wings and sail on down the hill. O he was the one who was born to be king! That one, turn- ing down through the Scotch broom and going over an upside- down car abandoned in the yellow grass. That one, his gray wings . One morning last week, part way through the dawn, I awokeunder the apple tree, to hear a dog barking and the rapidsound of hoofs coming toward me. The millennium? An in-vasion of Russians all wearing deer feet? I opened my eyes and saw a deer running straight at me.It was a buck with large horns. There was a police dog chas-ing after it. Arfwowfuck ! Noisepoundpoundpoundpoundpoundpound IPOUND ! POUND ! The deer didn't swerve away. He just kept running straightat me, long after he had seen me, a second or two had passed. Arfwowfuckl Noisepoundpoundpoundpoundpoundpound!POUND I POUND ! I could have reached out and touched him when he went by. He ran around the house, circling the john, with the doghot after him. They vanished over the hillside, leavingstreamers of toilet paper behind them, flowing out and en-tangled through the bushes and vines. Then along came the doe. She started up the same way,but not moving as fast. Maybe she had strawberries in herhead. "Whoa!" I shouted. "Enough is enough! I'm not sellingnewspapers!" The doe stopped in her tracks, twenty-five feet away andturned and went down around the eucalyptus tree. Well, that's how it's gone now for days and days. I wakeup just before they come. I wake up for them in the samemanner as I do for the dawn and the sunrise. Suddenly know-ing they're on their way.
THE LAST MENTION OF TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA SHORTYSaturday was the first day of autumn and there was a festivalbeing held at the church of Saint Francis. It was a hot dayand the Ferris wheel was turning in the air like a thermo-meter bent in a circle and given the grace of music. But all this goes back to another time, to when my daught-er was conceived. We'd just moved into a new apartment andthe lights hadn't been turned on yet. We were surrounded byunpacked boxes of stuff and there was a candle burning likemilk on a saucer. So we got one in and we're sure it was theright one. A friend was sleeping in another room. In retrospect Ihope we didn't wake him up, though he has been awakened andgone to sleep hundreds of times since then. During the pregnancy I stared innocently at that growinghuman center and had no idea the child therein containedwould ever meet Trout Fishing in America Shorty. Saturday afternoon we went down to Washington Square.We put the baby down on the grass and she took off runningtoward Trout Fishing in America Shorty who was sitting un-der the trees by the Benjamin Franklin statue. He was on the ground leaning up against the right-handtree. There were some garlic sausages and some bread sit-ting in his wheelchair as if it were a display counter in astrange grocery store. The baby ran down there and tried to make off with one ofhis sausages. Trout Fishing in America Shorty was instantly alerted,then he saw it was a baby and relaxed. He tried to coax herto come over and sit on his legless lap. She hid behind hiswheelchair, staring past the metal at him, one of her handsholding onto a wheel. "Come here, kid, " he said. "Come over and see old TroutFishing in America Shorty. " Just then the Benjamin Franklin statue turned green likea traffic light, and the baby noticed the sandbox at the otherend of the park. The sandbox suddenly looked better to her than Trout Fish-ing in America Shorty. She didn't care about his sausagesany more either. She decided to take advantage of the green light, and shecrossed over to the sandbox. Trout Fishing in America Shorty stared after her as ifthe space between them were a river growing larger andlarger.
WORSEWICKWorsewick Hot Springs was nothing fancy. Somebody put someboards across the creek. That was it. The boards dammed up the creek enough to form a hugebathtub there, and the creek flowed over the top of the boards,invited like a postcard to the ocean a thousand miles away.As I said Worsewick was nothing fancy, not like theplaces where the swells go. There were no buildings around.We saw an old shoe lying by the tub. The hot springs came down off a hill and where they flowedthere was a bright orange scum through the sagebrush. Thehot springs flowed into the creek right there at the tub andthat' s where it was nice. We parked our car on the dirt road and went down and tookoff our clothes, then we took off the baby's clothes, and thedeerflies had at us until we got into the water, and then theystopped. There was a green slime growing around the edges of thetub and there were dozens of dead fish floating in our bath.Their bodies had been turned white by death, like frost oniron doors. Their eyes were large and stiff. The fish had made the mistake of going down the creek toofar and ending up in hot water, singing, "When you lose your money, learn to lose." We played and relaxed in the water. The green slime andthe dead fish played and relaxed with us and flowed out overus and entwined themselves about us. Splashing around in that hot water with my woman, I began to get ideas, as they say. After a while I placed my body in such a position in the water that the baby could not see my hard-on. I did this by going deeper and deeper in the water, like adinosaur, and letting the green slime and dead fish cover meover. My woman took the baby out of the water and gave her abottle and put her back in the car. The baby was tired. It wasreally time for her to take a nap. My woman took a blanket out of the car and covered up thewindows that faced the hot springs. She put the blanket ontopof the car and then lay rocks on the blanket to hold it in place.I remember her standing there by the car. Then she came back to the water, and the deerflies wereat her, and then it was my turn. After a while she said, "Idon't have my diaphragm with me and besides it wouldn'twork in the water, anyway. I think it's a good idea if youdon't come inside me. What do you think?" I thought this over and said all right. I didn't want anymore kids for a long time. The green slime and dead fishwere all about our bodies. I remember a dead fish floated under her neck. I waitedfor it to come up on the other side, and it came up on theother side. Worsewick was nothing fancy. Then I came, and just cleared her in a split secondlikean airplane in the movies, pulling out of a nosedive and sail-ing over the roof of a school. My sperm came out into the water, unaccustomed to thelight, and instantly it became a misty, stringy kind of thingand swirled out like a falling star, and I saw a dead fishcomeforward and float into my sperm, bending it in the middle.His eyes were stiff like iron.
THE SHIPPING OF TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA SHORTY TO NELSON ALGRENTrout Fishing in America Shorty appeared suddenly lastautumn in San Francisco, staggering around in a magnificentchrome-plated steel wheelchair. He was a legless, screaming middle-aged wine. He descended upon North Beach like a chapter from theOld Testament. He was the reason birds migrate in theautumn. They have to. He was the cold turning of the earth;the bad wind that blows off sugar. He would stop children on the street and say to them, "Iain't got no legs. The trout chopped my legs off in FortLauderdale. You kids got legs. The trout didn't chop yourlegs off. Wheel me into that store over there." The kids, frightened and embarrassed, would wheel TroutFishing in America Shorty into the store. It would always bea store that sold sweet wine, and he would buy a bottle ofwine and then he'd have the kids wheel him back out onto thestreet, and he would open the wine and start drinking thereon the street just like he was Winston Churchill. After a while the children would run and hide when theysaw Trout Fishing in America Shorty coming. "I pushed him last week, " "I pushed him yesterday, " "Quick, let's hide behind these garbage cans." And they would hide behind the garbage cans while TroutFishing in America Shorty staggered by in his wheelchair.The kids would hold their breath until he was gone. Trout Fishing in America Shorty used to go down toL'Italia, the Italian newspaper in North Beach at Stocktonand Green Streets. Old Italians gather in front of the news-paper in the afternoon and just stand there, leaning upagainst the building, talking and dying in the sun. Trout Fishing in America Shorty used to wheel into themiddle of them as if they were a bunch of pigeons, bottle ofwine in hand, and begin shouting obscenities in fake Italian.Tra-la-la-la-la-la-Spa-ghet-tiii ! I remember Trout Fishing in America Shorty passed outin Washington Square, right in front of the Benjamin Frank-lin statue. He had fallen face first out of his wheelchair andjust lay there without moving. Snoring loudly. Above him were the metal works of Benjamin Franklinlike a clock, hat in hand. Trout Fishing in America Shorty lay there below, hisface spread out like a fan in the grass. A friend and I got to talking about Trout Fishing in America Shorty one afternoon. We decided the best thing to do witl:him was to pack him in a big shipping crate with a couple ofcases of sweet wine and send him to Nelson Algren. Nelson Algren is always writing about Railroad Shorty, ahero of the Neon Wilderness (the reason for "The Face onthe Barroom Floor") and the destroyer of Dove Linkhorn inA Walk on the Wild Side. We thought that Nelson Algren would make the perfectcustodian for Trout Fishing in America Shorty. Maybe amuseum might be started. Trout Fishing in America Shortycould be the first piece in an important collection. We would nail him up in a packing crate with a big labelon it. Contents: Trout Fishing in America Shorty Occupation: WineAddress:C/O Nelson AlgrenChicago And there would be stickers all over the crate, saying:"GLASS/HANDLE WITH CARE/SPECIAL HANDLING/GLASS/DON'T SPILL/THIS SIDE UP/HANDLE THIS WINO LIKE HEWAS AN ANGEL" And Trout Fishing in America Shorty, grumbling, pukingand cursing in his crate would travel across America, fromSan Francisco to Chicago. And Trout Fishing in America Shorty, wondering what itwas all about, would travel on, shouting, "Where in the hellam I? I can't see to open this bottle ! Who turned out thelights? Fuck this motel! I have to take a piss ! Where's mykey ?" It was a good idea. A few days after we made our plans for Trout Fishing inAmerica Shorty, a heavy rain was pouring down upon SanFrancisco. The rain turned the streets inward, likedrowned lungs, upon themselves and I was hurrying to work,meeting swollen gutters at the intersections. I saw Trout Fishing in America Shorty passed out in thefront window of a Filipino laundromat. He was sitting inhis wheelchair with closed eyes staring out the window. There was a tranquil expression on his face. He almostlooked human. He had probably fallen asleep while he washaving his brains washed in one of the machines. Weeks passed and we never got around to shipping TroutFishing in America Shorty away to Nelson Algren. We keptputting it off. One thing and another. Then we lost our gold-en opportunity because Trout Fishing in America Shorty dis-appeared a little while after that. They probably swept him up one morning and put him injail to punish him, the evilfart, or they put him in a nut-house to dry him out a little. Maybe Trout Fishing in America Shorty just pedaled downto San Jose in his wheelchair, rattling along the freeway ata quarter of a mile an hour. I don't know what happened to him. But if he comes backto San Francisco someday and dies, I have an idea. Trout Fishing in America Shorty should be buried rightbeside the Benjamin Franklin statue in Washington Square.We should anchor his wheelchair to a huge gray stone andwrite upon the stone: Trout Fishing in America Shorty 20 cent Wash 10 cent Dry Forever
THE MAYOR OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURYLondon. On December 1, 1887; July 7, August 8, September30, one day in the month of October and on the 9th of Novem-ber, 1888; on the Ist of June, the 17th of July and the IOthof September 1889 The disguise was perfect. Nobody ever saw him, except, of course, the victims.They saw him. Who would have expected? He wore a costume of trout fishing in America. He woremountains on his elbows and bluejays on the collar of hisshirt. Deep water flowed through the lilies that were entwinedabout his shoelaces. A bullfrog kept croaking in his watchpocket and the air was filled with the sweet smell of ripeblackberry bushes. He wore trout fishing in America as a costume to hidehis own appearance from the world while he performed hisdeeds of murder in the night.Who would have expected? Nobody ! Scotland Yard? (Pouf !) They were always a hundred miles away, wearing halibut-stalker hats, looking under the dust. Nobody ever found out. 0, now he's the Mayor of the Twentieth Century ! A razor,a knife and a ukelele are his favorite instruments. Of course, it would have to be a ukelele. Nobody elsewould have thought of it, pulled like a plow through the intest-ines.ON PARADISE"Speaking of evacuations, your missive, while complete inother regards, skirted the subject, though you did deal brief-ly with rural micturition procedure. I consider this a grossoversight on your part, as I'm certain you're well aware ofmy unending fascination with camp-out crapping. Pleaserush details in your next effort. Slit-trench, pith helmet,slingshot, biffy and if so number of holes and proximity ofkeester to vermin and deposits of prior users." --From a Letter by a Friend Sheep. Everything smelled of sheep on Paradise Creek,but there were no sheep in sight. I fished down from theranger station where there was a huge monument to the Civi-lian Conservation Corps. It was a twelve-foot high marble statue of a young manwalking out on a cold morning to a crapper that had the das-sic half-moon cut above the door. The 1930s will never come again, but his shoes werewet with dew. They'll stay that way in marble. I went off into the marsh. There the creek was soft andspread out in the grass like a beer belly. The fishing wasdifficult. Summer ducks were jumping up into flight. Theywere big mallards with their Rainier Ale-like offspring. I believe I saw a woodcock. He had a long bill like puttinga fire hydrant into a pencil sharpener, then pasting it ontoa bird and letting the bird fly away in front of me with thisthing on its face for no other purpose than to amaze me. I worked my way slowly out of the marsh until the creekagain became a muscular thing, the strongest ParadiseCreek in the world. I was then close enough to see the sheep.There were hundreds of them. Everything smelled of sheep. The dandelions were sudden-ly more sheep than flower, each petal reflecting wool andthe sound of a bell ringing off the yellow. But the thing thatsmelled the most like sheep, was the very sun itself. Whenthe sun went behind a cloud, the smell of the sheep decreasedlike standing on some old guy's hearing aid, and when thesun came back again, the smell of the sheep was loud, likea clap of thunder inside a cup of coffee. That afternoon the sheep crossed the creek in front ofmy hook. They were so close that their shadows fell acrossmy bait. I practically caught trout up their assholes.
THE CABINET OFDOCTORCALIGARIOnce water bugs were my field. I remember that childhoodspring when I studied the winter-long mud puddles of thePacific Northwest. I had a fellowship. My books were a pair of Sears Roebuck boots, ones withgreen rubber pages. Most of my classrooms were close tothe shore. That's where the important things were happen-ing and that's where the good things were happening. Sometimes as experiments I laid boards out into the mudpuddles, so I could look into the deeper water but it was notnearly as good as the water in close to the shore. The water bugs were so small I practically had to lay myvision like a drowned orange on the mud puddle. There is aromance about fruit floating outside on the water, aboutapples and pears in rivers and lakes. For the first minuteor so, I saw nothing, and then slowly the water bugs cameinto being. I saw a black one with big teeth chasing a white one witha bag of newspapers slung over its shoulder, two white onesplaying cards near the window, a fourth white one staringback with a harmonica in its mouth. I was a scholar until the mud puddles went dry and then Ipicked cherries for two-and-a-half cents a pound in an oldorchard that was beside a long, hot dusty road. The cherry boss was a middle-aged woman who was a realOkie. Wearing a pair of goofy overalls, her name was RebelSmith, and she'd been a friend of "Pretty Boy" Floyd's downin Oklahoma. "I remember one afternoon'Pretty Boy' camedriving up in his car. I ran out onto the front porch. " Rebel Smith was always smoking cigarettes and showingpeople how to pick cherries and assigning them to trees andwriting down everything in a little book she carried in hershirt pocket. She smoked just half a cigarette and then threwthe other half on the ground. For the first few days of the picking, I was always seeingher half-smoked cigarettes lying all over the orchard, nearthe john and around the trees and down the rows. Then she hired half-a-dozen bums to pick cherries be-cause the picking was going too slowly. Rebel picked thebums up on skidrow every morning and drove them out tothe orchard in a rusty old truck. There were always half-a-dozen bums, but sometimes they had different faces. After they came to pick cherries I never saw any more ofher half-smoked cigarettes lying around. They were gonebefore they hit the ground. Looking back on it, you mightsay that Rebel Smith was anti-mud puddle, but then you miglnot say that at all.
WITNESS FOR TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA PEACEIn San Francisco around Easter time last year, they had atrout fishing in America peace parade. They had thousandsof red stickers printed and they pasted them on their smallforeign cars, and on means of national communication liketelephone poles. The stickers had WITNESS FOR TROUT FISHING IN AM-ERICA PEACE printed on them. Then this group of college- and high-school-trained Com-munists, along with some Communist clergymen and theirMarxist-taught children, marched to San Francisco fromSunnyvale, a Communist nerve center about forty miles away. It took them four days to walk to San Francisco. Theystopped overnight at various towns along the way, and slepton the lawns of fellow travelers. They carried with them Communist trout fishing in Ameri-ca peace propaganda posters:"DON'T DROP AN H-BOMB ON THE OLD FISHING HOLE I" "ISAAC WALTON WOULD'VE HATED THE BOMB!" "ROYAL COACHMAN, SI! ICBM, NO!" They carried with them many other trout fishing in Amer-ica peace inducements, all following the Communist worldconquest line: the Gandhian nonviolence Trojan horse. When these young, hard-core brainwashed members ofthe Communist conspiracy reached the "Panhandle, " theemigre Oklahoma Communist sector of San Francisco, thou-sands of other Communists were waiting for them. Thesewere Communists who couldn't walk very far. They barelyhad enough strength to make it downtown. Thousands of Communists, protected by the police, marcheddown to Union Square, located in the very heart of San Fran-cisco. The Communist City Hall riots in 1960 had presentedevidence of it, the police let hundreds of Communists escape,but the trout fishing in America peace parade was the finalindictment: police protection. Thousands of Communists marched right into the heart ofSan Francisco, and Communist speakers incited them forhours and the young people wanted to blow up Colt Tower, butthe Communist clergy told them to put away their plasticbombs. "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men shoulddo to you, do ye even so to them . . . There will be no needfor explosives, " they said. America needs no other proof. The Red shadow of theGandhian nonviolence Trojan horse has fallen across Ameri-ca, and San Francisco is its stable. Obsolete is the mad rapist's legendary piece of candy. Atthis very moment, Communist agents are handing out Witnessfor trout fishing in America peace tracts to innocent childrenriding the cable cars.
FOOTNOTE CHAPTER TO "RED LIP"Living in the California bush we had no garbage service. Ourgarbage was never greeted in the early morning by a manwith a big smile on his face and a kind word or two. Wecouldn't burn any of the garbage because it was the dry seas-on and everything was ready to catch on fire anyway, includ-ing ourselves. The garbage was a problem for a little whileand then we discovered a way to get rid of it. We took the garbage down to where there were three aban-doned houses in a row. We carried sacks full of tin cans,papers, peelings, bottles and Popeyes. We stopped at the last abandoned house where there werethousands of old receipts to the San Francisco Chroniclethrown all over the bed and the children's toothbrushes werestill in the bathroom medicine cabinet. Behind the place was an old outhouse and to get down to it,you had to follow the path down past some apple trees and apatch of strange plants that we thought were either a goodspice that would certainly enhance our cooking or the plantswere deadly nightshade that would cause our cooking to beless. We carried the garbage down to the outhouse and alwaysopened the door slowly because that was the only way youcould open it, and on the wall there was a roll of toilet paper,so old it looked like a relative, perhaps a cousin, to the Mag-na Carta. We lifted up the lid of the toilet and dropped the garbagedown into the darkness. This went on for weeks and weeksuntil it became very funny to lift the lid of the toilet and in-stead of seeing darkness below or maybe the murky abstractoutline of garbage, we saw bright, definite and lusty garbageheaped up almost to the top. If you were a stranger and went down there to take an in-nocent crap, you would've had quite a surprise when you lift-ed up the lid. We left the California bush just before it became necessaryto stand on the toilet seat and step into that hole, crushingthe garbage down like an accordion into the abyss.
THE CLEVELAND WRECKING YARDUntil recently my knowledge about the Cleveland WreckingYard had come from a couple of friends who'd bought thingsthere. One of them bought a huge window: the frame, glassand everything for just a few dollars. It was a fine-lookingwindow. Then he chopped a hole in the side of his house up onPotrero Hill and put the window in. Now he has a panoramicview of the San Francisco County Hospital. He can practically look right down into the wards and seeold magazines eroded like the Grand Canyon from endlessreadings. He can practically hear the patients thinking aboutbreakfast: I hate milk and thinking about dinner: I hate peas,and then he can watch the hospital slowly drown at night,hopelessly entangled in huge bunches of brick seaweed. He bought that window at the Cleveland Wrecking Yard. My other friend bought an iron roof at the Cleveland Wreck-ing Yard and took the roof down to Big Sur in an old stationwagon and then he carried the iron roof on his back up theside of a mountain. He carried up half the roof on his back.It was no picnic. Then he bought a mule, George, from Pleas-anton. George carried up the other half of the roof. The mule didn't like what was happening at all. He lost alot of weight because of the ticks, and the smell of the wild-cats up on the plateau made him too nervous to graze there.My friend said jokingly that George had lost around two hun-dred pounds. The good wine country around Pleasanton in theLivermore Valley probably had looked a lot better to Georgethan the wild side of the Santa Lucia Mountains. My friend's place was a shack right beside a huge fire-place where there had once been a great mansion during the1920s, built by a famous movie actor. The mansion was builtbefore there was even a road down at Big Sur. The mansionhad been brought over the mountains on the backs of mules,strung out like ants, bringing visions of the good life to thepoison oak, the ticks, and the salmon. The mansion was on a promontory, high over the Pacific.Money could see farther in the 1920s and one could look outand see whales and the Hawaiian Islands and the Kuomintangin China. The mansion burned down years ago. The actor died. His mules were made into soap. His mistresses became bird nests of wrinkles. Now only the fireplace remains as a sort of Carthaginianhomage to Hollywood. I was down there a few weeks ago to see my friend's roof.I wouldn't have passed up the chance for a million dollars,as they say. The roof looked like a colander to me. If thatroof and the rain were running against each other at BayMeadows, I'd bet on the rain and plan to spend my winningsat the World's Fair in Seattle. My own experience with the Cleveland Wrecking Yard be-gan two days ago when I heard about a used trout streamthey had on sale out at the Yard. So I caught the Number 15bus on Columbus Avenue and went out there for the first time. There were two Negro boys sitting behind me on the bus.They were talking about Chubby Checker and the Twist. Theythought that Chubby Checker was only fifteen years old be-cause he didn't have a mustache. Then they talked about someother guy who did the twist forty-four hours in a row untilhe saw George Washington crossing the Delaware. "Man, that's what I call twisting, " one of the kids said. "I don't think I could twist no forty-four hours in a row, "the other kid said. "That's a lot of twisting. " I got off the bus right next to an abandoned Time Gasolinefilling station and an abandoned fifty-cent self-service carwash. There was a long field on one side of the filling station.The field had once been covered with a housing project dur-ing the war, put there for the shipyard workers. On the other side of the Time filling station was the Cleve-land Wrecking Yard. I walked down there to have a look atthe used trout stream. The Cleveland Wrecking Yard has avery long front window filled with signs and merchandise. There was a sign in the window advertising a laundry marking machine for $65. 00. The original cost of the mach- ine was $175. 00. Quite a saving. There was another sign advertising new and used two and three ton hoists. I wondered how many hoists it would take to move a trout stream. There was another sign that said: THE FAMILY GIFT CENTER, GIFT SUGGESTIONS FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY The window was filled with hundreds of items for the en- tire family. Daddy, do you know what I want for Christmas? son? A bathroom. Mommy do you know what I want for Christmas? What, Patricia? Some roofing material There were jungle hammocks in the window for distant relatives and dollar-ten-cent gallons of earth-brown enamel paint for other loved ones. There was also a big sign that said: USED TROUT STREAM FOR SALE. MUST BE SEEN TO BE APPRECIATED, I went inside and looked at some ship's lanterns that were for sale next to the door. Then a salesman came up to me and said in a pleasant voice, "Can I help you?" "Yes, " I said. "I'm curious about the trout stream you have for sale. Can you tell me something about it? How are you selling it?" "We're selling it by the foot length. You can buy as little as you want or you can buy all we've got left. A man came in here this morning and bought 563 feet. He's going to give it to his niece for a birthday present, " the salesman said. "We're selling the waterfalls separately of course, and the trees and birds, flowers grass and ferns we're also sell- ing extra. The insects we're giving away free with a mini- mum purchase of ten feet of stream. " "How much are you selling the stream for?" I asked. "Six dollars and fifty-cents a foot, " he said. "That's for the first hundred feet. After that it's five dollars a foot." "How much are the birds?" I asked. "Thirty-five cents apiece, " he said. "But of course they're used. We can't guarantee anything." "How wide is the stream?" I asked. "You said you wereselling it by the length, didn't you?" "Yes, " he said. "We're selling it by the length. Its widthruns between five and eleven feet. You don't have to pay any-thing extra for width. It's not a big stream, but it's verypleasant. " "What kinds of animals do you have 7" I asked. "We only have three deer left, " he said. "Oh What about flowers 7" "By the dozen, " he said. "Is the stream clear?" I asked. "Sir, " the salesman said. "I wouldn't want you to thinkthat we would ever sell a murky trout stream here. We al-ways make sure they're running crystal clear before we eventhink about moving them. " "Where did the stream come from?" I asked. "Colorado, " he said. "We moved it with loving care. We'venever damaged a trout stream yet. We treat them all as ifthey were china. " "You're probably asked this all the time, but how's fish-ing in the stream?" I asked. "Very good, " he said. "Mostly German browns, but thereare a few rainbows. " "What do the trout cost?" I asked. "They come with the stream, " he said. "Of course it's allluck. You never know how many you're going to get or howbig they are. But the fishing's very good, you might say it'sexcellent. Both bait and dry fly, " he said smiling. "Where's the stream at?" I asked. "I'd like to take a lookat it. " "It's around in back, " he said. "You go straight throughthat door and then turn right until you're outside. It's stackedin lengths. You can't miss it. The waterfalls are upstairs inthe used plumbing department. " "What about the animals?" "Well, what's left of the animals are straight back fromthe stream. You'll see a bunch of our trucks parked on aroad by the railroad tracks. Turn right on the road and fol-low it down past the piles of lumber. The animal shed's rightat the end of the lot. " "Thanks, " I said. "I think I'11 look at the waterfalls first.You don't have to come with me. Just tell me how to get thereand I'11 find my own way. "All right, " he said. "Go up those stairs. You'll see abunch of doors and windows, turn left and you'll find theused plumbing department. Here's my card if you need anyhelp. " "Okay, " I said. "You've been a great help already. Thanksa lot. I'11 take a look around." "Good luck, " he said. I went upstairs and there were thousands of doors there.I'd never seen so many doors before in my life. You couldhave built an entire city out of those doors. Doorstown. Andthere were enough windows up there to build a little suburbentirely out of windows. Windowville. I turned left and went back and saw the faint glow of pearl-colored light. The light got stronger and stronger as I wentfarther back, and then I was in the used plumbing department,surrounded by hundreds of toilets. The toilets were stacked on shelves. They were stackedfive toilets high. There was a skylight above the toilets thatmade them glow like the Great Taboo Pearl of the South Seamovies. Stacked over against the wall were the waterfalls. Therewere about a dozen of them, ranging from a drop of a fewfeet to a drop of ten or fifteen feet. There was one waterfall that was over sixty feet long.There were tags on the pieces of the big falls describing thecorrect order for putting the falls back together again. The waterfalls all had price tags on them. They weremore expensive than the stream. The waterfalls were sellingfor $19.00 a foot. I went into another room where there were piles of sweet-smelling lumber, glowing a soft yellow from a different colorskylight above the lumber. In the shadows at the edge of theroom under the sloping roof of the building were many sinksand urinals covered with dust, and there was also anotherwaterfall about seventeen feet long, lying there in two lengthsand already beginning to gather dust. I had seen all I wanted of the waterfalls, and now I wasvery curious about the trout stream, so I followed the sales-man's directions and ended up outside the building. O I had never in my life seen anything like that troutstream. It was stacked in piles of various lengths: ten, fif-teen, twenty feet, etc. There was one pile of hundred-footlengths. There was also a box of scraps. The scraps werein odd sizes ranging from six inches to a couple of feet. There was a loudspeaker on the side of the building andsoft music was coming out. It was a cloudy day and seagullswere circling high overhead. Behind the stream were big bundles of trees and bushes.They were covered with sheets of patched canvas. You couldsee the tops and roots sticking out the ends of the bundles. I went up close and looked at the lengths of stream. Icould see some trout in them. I saw one good fish. I sawsome crawdads crawling around the rocks at the bottom. It looked like a fine stream. I put my hand in the water.It was cold and felt good. I decided to go around to the side and look at the animals.I saw where the trucks were parked beside the railroadtracks. I followed the road down past the piles of lumber,back to the shed where the animals were. The salesman had been right. They were practically outof animals. About the only thing they had left in any abun-dance were mice. There were hundreds of mice. Beside the shed was a huge wire birdcage, maybe fiftyfeet high, filled with many kinds of birds. The top of the cagehad a piece of canvas over it, so the birds wouldn't get wetwhen it rained. There were woodpeckers and wild canariesand sparrows. On my way back to where the trout stream was piled, Ifound the insects. They were inside a prefabricated steelbuilding that was selling for eighty-cents a square foot. Therewas a sign over the door. It said INSECTS
A HALF-SUNDAY HOMAGE TO A WHOLE LEONARDO DA VINCIOn this funky winter day in rainy San Francisco I've had avision of Leonardo da Vinci. My woman's out slaving away,no day off, working on Sunday. She left here at eight o'clockthis morning for Powell and California. I've been sitting hereever since like a toad on a log dreaming about Leonardo daVinci. I dreamt he was on the South Bend Tackle Company pay-roll, but of course, he was wearing different clothes andspeaking with a different accent and possessor of a differentchildhood, perhaps an American childhood spent in a townlike Lordsburg, New Mexico, or Winchester, Virginia. I saw him inventing a new spinning lure for trout fishingin America. I saw him first of all working with his imagina-tion, then with metal and color and hooks, trying a little ofthis and a little of that, and then adding motion and then tak-ing it away and then coming back again with a different motion,and in the end the lure was invented. He called his bosses in. They looked at the lure and allfainted. Alone, standing over their bodies, he held the lurein his hand and gave it a name. He called it "The Last Supper."Then he went about waking up his bosses. In a matter of months that trout fishing lure was the sen-sation of the twentieth century, far outstripping such shallowaccomplishments as Hiroshima or Mahatma Gandhi. Millionsof "The Last Supper" were sold in America. The Vatican or-dered ten thousand and they didn't even have any trout there. Testimonials poured in. Thirty-four ex-presidents of theUnited States all said, ''I caught my limit on 'The Last Supper.'''