As a result of the uproar, the cat decided against going outside for his morning constitutional, which is not breaking my heart, as I do not have much fun wrestling him into a harness and then standing around in the cold waiting until he tries, again, to slither under the neighbor's porch (I yank him out), or under my car (I yank him out), or inside a drainpipe (I yank him out). Taking a cat for a walk really means taking a cat for a lurk. And lurking is difficult with a leash.
Anyway, in a few hours, I'll be heading north for this afternoon's gig at the Squaw Mountain Music Festival, so the cat will have to do today's lurking entirely indoors. I've got my bag of cough drops and my bottle of ibuprofen and the remaining few pills in my penicillin dosage. I am determined to make it through all of my songs without choking. Afterward I'll spend the night with my friends who live off the grid . . . dark skies, cold air, candles, and a backhouse (aka a well-designed outhouse attached to the house so you don't have to go outside to use it: an amazing boon on a below-zero night). I love to be there.
I've starting collecting my Vietnam materials. The Portland Public Library's choices are not that broad, so I'm stuck with Stanley Karnow's 1983 history of the war, which seems both dry and dated. But at least it will help me out with the facts. The library did offer me Lorrie Goldensohn's edited anthology, American War Poetry, which is both excellent as far as content goes and a beautifully designed physical object (with the exception of a couple of misplaced footnotes). It includes poems from the colonial period through the Persian Gulf wars, but so far I've only been reading the Vietnam-era pieces. And I am interested by her introduction of them:
With the exception of the Civil War, no other war divided the American public so virulently and for so long a time--and yet the divisions that these war poems reflect is not one of politics, or of a division between support or lack of support for the war. In fact, no sophisticated or interesting prowar poetry has yet emerged from this period. Even the division in the poems between home front and battlefield ultimately gave way to a consensus of hearts and minds about stopping a war seen by nearly all those who chose to write poems as senseless and immoral.So Vietnam has no version of Walt Whitman's "O Captain! My Captain!" Or Alan Seeger's "I Have a Rendezvous with Death." No Karl Shapiro's "Troop Train."
What it has is version after version of Doug Anderson's "Infantry Assault:
The way he made that corpse dance
by emptying one magazine after another into it
and the way the corpse's face began to peel off
like a mask because the skull had been shattered, brains
spilled out, but he couldn't stop killing that corpse,
wanted to make damn sure, I thought maybe
he was killing all the ones he'd missed . . .