After I dropped my twelve-year-old off at his mother's (he wants to be there tomorrow so he's taking off school and his mom and him are heading over before I go into the operating room), I went to the gym and did a workout to get myself tired enough to go to sleep early.
Afterwards I picked up a few things at Whole Foods, including some mashed potatoes and yams and cranberries, nice and warm to eat with some leftover chicken a friend made for me and my boy a couple of nights ago. While I ate I listened to the messages on my phone from friends all over the country wishing me the best, and vaguely tuned in to the TCM movie on the TV, a black-and-white '40s flick with Bette Davis flailing her cigarette around a little less than usual, a more or less restrained performance for her in a movie I'd never seen before (one of my favorite things TCM and '40s black-and-white movies, which I know I've said before, recently).
I called as many people back as I could, spent some time on the phone with my older boy and my dearest friend (I talked to my daughter earlier, she's been kind enough to change her schedule around to be the one to take care of my in my first week of recovery) and now I'm writing this to say poetry saved me again, as well as black-and-white movies and the love of my children and family and dear friends. The day I got home from the hospital after a long stay (longer than usual) after they took my prostate out and the cancer in it with it, my friend Harry Northup's book REUNIONS arrived in the mail and when I felt up to it I started to read it and it brought me so much joy it instantly renewed my love of books, my love of poetry in particular, and my love of the honest creative expressions of others that seem so vital when we're going through tough times.
Today in the mail I received a little book of poems and artwork, all by my friend Geoff Young, and all so full of life and intelligence and experience and unique ways of using language to get at the important stuff while seeming to be making light of it all. Just what the doctor ordered. A little book called NOT TWICE ENOUGH he printed at Kwik Print in Great Barrington in a run of just 100 copies. It's beautiful in every way—the art, the poems, and the spirit behind and moving through it all.
I'll have to do a post on it when I get back from the hospital, but here's a taste:
"WHEN YOU GET THAT
Love how your bow's nothing but a blur
when you get that geothermal thing going
on Paganini's "24 Caprices"
and the way you toss your hair
like Midori at a bus shelter
closing a cell-phone with her chin.
I'm all ears when you ask me to trim
your short hairs; intimacy is a pair
of scissors. The art world may have swept
the painter of the moment off her feet
for painting "Fred As A Bee-Hive"
but we're closing in on the spot
where words fall silent and breath's so warm
we're laughing inside to feel this alive."
I've been reading a poem in it every now and then since it arrived in the mail around noon and made me smile when I read the first poem. I'm a happy man. I had some quickly passing worries that I hadn't written that book to my little guy where I wanted to tell him everything I've learned, or the one about my good friend Hubert Selby and all we shared, or my Hollywood adventures, or....
But then I was reminded by my friend Terence of all I've already done, and that I'll have plenty of time to do all I'm still planning to. Finally I said goodnight to my younger son and his mom and now it's time to slip between the sheets and go to sleep—one of my favorite things, getting into bed at night and feeling the comfort of clean sheets and the weight of the cover and quilt etc. Once a young woman I was seeing in L.A. remarked, when I expressed how happy it made me to get into a nice warm clean bed at night (especially since I'd spent time sleeping in lots of not so clean or warm or happy places in my life), she said "That's why you're not more successful, you're too easily satisfied!").
Thank God for that.