The subject line is from Bert Meyers’s “Homecoming, 1969,” which appears in a 1971 anthology titled Just What the Country Needs, Another Poetry Anthology (James McMichael and Dennis Saleh, eds.), which I bought for $1.98 from (IIRC) a mess of a shop in Kentucky some years ago.
Some of the poems in the anthology have not aged well. There are some household names in the the mix, but I bought the book mainly because the title made me laugh, and because a quick skim suggested that I’d find at least a handful of kernels amid the chaff. I slid a paper clip onto page 68 a while back so that I could return to these lines by Galway Kinnell:
“And in the days
when you find yourself orphaned,
of all wind-singing, of light,
the pieces of cursed bread on your tonuge,
may there come back to you
spectral, calling you
from everything that dies.
you shall open
this book, even if it is the book of nightmares.”
I am a heap of half-detangled memories at the moment, truth be told. I am getting ready to ship some old yearbooks, clippings, awards, and the like to the archivist at my grade school — the main emotion is relief, as it didn’t feel right to toss them into the trash, but I want the space for what interests me now — but as with far less significant belongings, there’s some mourning and wistfulness in the letting go.
I don’t care for the Philip Dacey poems in Just What the Country Needs, but Night Shift at the Crucifix Factory is across the hall and Strong Measures in the next room, and I first encountered his writing in a Paul Janeczko anthology in high school; tonight I learned that he had been a teacher at Southwest Minnesota State at the same time as my dad, which means we actually lived in the same county for a while. The overlap doesn’t mean anything, and yet I’m a tiny bit pleased to add that tiny detail to my mental file folder.
I looked up Meyers’s bio and obit as well, having not heard of him before: one could do worse than to be remembered as cantankerous and compelling.
I shall write more (both here and in general) in 2020, I hope. But I don’t intend to lose sleep over it, although owning probably a couple dozen anthologies (at a very rough guess — not counting the ones I’m in, even) is effectively keeping a warren full of rabbit holes. Mentally revisiting the store in Kentucky (which I may well be confusing with some other dusty middle-of-nowhere maze-shed in North Carolina) had me thinking about other shops there: I’m pleased to see that Hot Flash Beads is still in business. That’s a good note to end this ramble on.