Suze at Subliminal Coffee has organized a project called False Start Friday. She says, "It's so writers can haul out their shelved stash." Image above is one I abstracted from her site. I use it to signal my back page, and I like the idea of bookstores with cats in them. Time was, finding a book was a regional experience. You can identify people from that era by their frequent use of the phrase, "time was."
Time was, I used to do readings in bookstores, and bars, art galleries --poems and humor for small presses. I remember writing a first version of this in '72, delivering another version at Los Olmecas Gallery in '74, a final version for a tv show in '77, so I guess it qualifies as a "False Start" that never emerged from a state of flux. I am happy to retire it to this blog. It's called Gideon and I no longer have any idea what it means.
It was morning and I searched for Gideon. Called his house and his wife answered.
"He's been up all night." She said, "studying for a hearing test."
It was time to track him down. Gideon once wrote his address on the backs of my eyelids but it was morning and the light was bad in there.
Knocked at the first door I came to: "Gideon home?"
"He is not here," cried Quasimodo from the bell tower. "He has risen."
Wrong house. I caught a bus headed south. When I arrived in Bakersfield I looked up his brother, Don.
"Don," I said. "Have you seen Gideon?"
"No but he called last night, allowed he was headed for Mexico to drink tequila for ten years today."
"Any idea why?"
"Catechism? For what? In what city? The jungle? Border town? A fishing village? Where, Don, where?
"Not his keeper. Need a cage, cheap?"
I panicked and went straight to the police: "You can't miss him, Sergeant. His eyes are initials carved in ancient oak. His body twists the firmament like a planet gone mad. His hair is thunder turning above battles and, when the moon rises, his hands are white curling fog."
"As a matter of fact," said the sergeant. "A man of that description was seen hitch-hiking in the Mojave just this morning."
I came upon Gideon in the desert. He was prostrate in the sand and I had thought him dead until he stirred and whispered, "I thirst."
So I gave him my canteen and said, "Why, Gideon, in heaven's name why?"
To which he struggled to his knees and answered, "You know I'm only looking for a contact lens."
Then I too kneeled and joined the search.
Now that I'm posting this, I remember Willie was at Los Olmecas that night. I was surprised because he'd been working in Spain, Southern California, then Santa Cruz and I hadn't seen him in years, which reminds me searches for meaning used up more shoe leather back then. Or maybe that's just my imagination. Then again, maybe that's what Gideon was about.