Alone on the Heath, a purple flower
where there once was dry reedy sand,
you, friend, rode the train to dusty plains
with me–and slept through shifting tides
along California beaches, we two, strangers
to this land, and no less to each other.
I watched your sleeping breast rise and settle,
like the rhythm of our first freedom days, lazed
into adulthood, we seekers of flame, depths
of our soulful hearts, walking poetry, youth
alluring to each other–comrades–and evil too.
I saw you leave that day, through cloudy eyes,
music, sand and weed drifting us alongside
our own nature, me, cautious and calculating,
ready to loosen within my comfortable shoes, and
you, riddle’s answer to: What is freer than free?
Who has stolen your breath, my flower?
Your forever frozen face stills time in its place.
Heather backed bramble
She bends to painful changes
At Venice Beach, I met the strolling acoustic guitar players, Steve Gibson and his accompaniment Kenny, who called sneakers tenny runners. They sang Dead songs and other tunes I knew, mostly soft folk songs I enjoyed while stoned, The Beatles’ Norwegian Wood and Loggins and Messina baby songs. I followed those two every weekend and ended up naked with Steve on some grass strip embankment edging a public park. Steve, blonde haired curly lead, was the heart throb, but my fondest memory of the two belongs to Tennyrunner Kenny. I somehow found myself in a bathtub naked with Kenny, the shorter, straight haired less confident but sweeter one. He was always high on whites and shaking a bit, shaky handed, but we had the most pleasant bath, I remember, giggling and playing footsie. So sweet and filled with I-don’t-dare-but-I-really-want-to tension teasing the vaporous heat emitted from the bath water. Those two moved on pretty quickly in my life and memory.
And then there was the day I met Heather on the beach and smoked a joint with Heads she had just met. I showed up late to the gathering and did not know anyone. The joint I learned too late was laced with Angel Dust, and I recall liking neither the lack of warning nor the distortion it produced, as if I were seeing through the wrong end of binoculars. The warped vision disturbed me; I had a hard time maintaining my composure. That may have been the last time I saw Heather. She disappeared. Presumed dead. Thirty-eight years later theories still circulate about murder, escape, serial killers and marriage.