Let the six-story hole be

Published 9:38 am Wednesday, May 6, 2009

“Poets are born old; with the passing of years we make ourselves into children.”— Humberto Ak’abal

I got to spend time at the Black Dog Café in St. Paul’s “lower town” across from the farmer’s market last Sunday. There were no farmers in the farmer’s market. Perhaps it’s a bit early for the market.

Instead of going into the Black Dog Café, I walked down the hill toward the tracks, a similar route that a bunch of us took on a silent walk and write outing guided by Natalie Goldberg. I headed the way I thought Natalie took us, but couldn’t find the route we took. I did get down near a fence that had squeezing room to get through to cross to the other side. Instead, I turned back. Minutes later I watched a couple squeeze through the space. Sunday in St. Paul is much different than Sunday in Austin.

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One of the pleasures in my life was stopping by the Black Dog Café in St. Paul to listen to poets against the war. It was packed. Robert Bly was one of the first to read and was followed by other accomplished Twin Cities poets.  A number of poets read before the break. Many of the patrons then left.

I approached the moderator, and asked if I could read my poem … he hesitated, then I explained how I had driven all the way up from Austin. He granted my wish. I then read to a far smaller crowd. It is titled “six months later.”

“New York looks better to me now/with its Babylon towers down/The Indians, I suspect/ feel that way too/seven generations after Manhattan Island was traded for trinkets and alcohol/now one can see the sky again, and God can look down upon us/ and let the six story hole be/let it be the sacred burial grounds that it is/where the red man and the white man/the brown man and the Buddhist/the protestant and the catholic/the Muslim and the Taoist/the Hindu and the Jew can rest together in peace.”

The Clouds in the Water Zen Center is just down the hall from the Black Dog Café, where I believe one of Austin’s own is involved.

I later had an opportunity to read the poem on PRN when they had a show discussing a proposal for another towering replacement project.

9/11 was a startling moment in our history, watching it on television as it occurred and the mayhem that followed.

I remember the look on President Bush’s face as he was informed that morning while reading to elementary students. He responded with “that shocked look,” the look of all America. And then, the following day, the President stood amid the twin tower wreckage telling the crowd “I hear you.”

This was a difficult time for us, and perhaps a rewarding time for some, for those who felt bullied and burned themselves over time.

Eight years have passed, and it appears that the days of “You’re either with us or against us” have faded. Today the world seems more inclined to work together; at least I hope that is the case. World leaders are at least talking to one another. Yet, it’s far from settled.

The other night I brought Skyler from St. Paul. Jeanne had driven up to Moorhead earlier to pick him up and transported Skyler back to St. Paul while I ended up in the lobby watching people come and go.

Skyler and I discussed his philosophy and world religion courses he took along with his community efforts sandbagging to protect Moorhead from flooding until being relieved by the National Guard. Skyler didn’t have boots to wear for sandbagging and ended up wearing several pairs of socks wrapped in plastic that tended to tear open as the temperature began to drop.

It is obvious he is developing a greater awareness of the various religions in the world, reaching way beyond his fathers.

My GPA at the end of my first two quarters at the junior college on the top floor’s southwest corner of the high school was .87. A little less than a “D” average.

Skyler emphasized what the main aspect of his Rationality and Faith philosophy class was the writings of the philosopher John Hick.

Hick believes in a religious pluralism, or an idea that all the major religions of the world share certain characteristics and that they all are touching upon the same goal and that no one is exclusively right.