I heard a podcast the other day talking about how the idea of sound might be somewhat unique to earth, that in space it might mean something very different, based on things like atmospheric pressure and a bunch of other science I barely understood.
But it did make me think about how, when we try to communicate with The Others, we do things like sending gold records into space.
Sometimes I wonder if these blog posts are gold (silver?) records that I'm sending into space.
And while that may absolutely be the case, it is also possible that all the space records get intercepted. Maybe it's 2078, and despite every medical advancement, I have somehow perished, but somehow the internet has persisted, and you, dear reader, have discovered this site.
First things first: congratulations.
It seems only fair that you should be recompensed for your efforts. I offer you, below, the poem "Hole in the Wall" from my inaugural chapbook. Please, if you don't already have a copy, get in touch with my estate and demand that they sell you a copy. Lord knows those bastards are probably making a mockery of my legacy.
The Hole in the Wall was a real place, located in what used to be called the Warehouse District of Minneapolis, but, through the miracle or realty is now known as the North Loop (because it is just north of downtown, presumably, but I can't for the life of me understand why it's a loop -- this is not Chicago). It was an actual hole in an actual wall along the railroad tracks that abut downtown and head west to Willmar and east to Somewhere Else.
In its day, as I understand it,. the Hole in the Wall was a famous homeless camp for the sorts of made-classy-by-history railroad tramps that likely frequented the nearby skid row (itself a casualty of 1960s urban renewal).
I got these stories as hand-me-downs when, at 18, I was working for the Salvation Army out of its Harbor Light shelter on a truck that delivered sandwiches to those homeless citizens who didn't want to come in to the shelter (and in those days, at least, I can't blame them -- it was chaotic there at best, and I didn't ever really feel too safe there). It was a hard spot to access by truck, as I recall, and so we didn't go there too often, and, on many occasions, struck out when we did.
But then we heard about a family who was staying there, and we visited them a handful of times, delivering sandwiches and whatever else we could. I don't remember much of those visits, except that there were kids, and a mom, and that everyone seemed generally on edge, furtive even. I can't blame them.
Twenty years later I'm almost certain that the Hole in the Wall has been razed,.sealed off, or otherwise been made inaccessible by the construction of Target Field and the march of progress. It's a difficult internet search, too, for what was purportedly such a famous homeless camp, but the one link I did find features a guy I knew back in those days from another camp.
I should also acknowledge that the poem features another character from the streets, Thumper, who was a real person. Her real name (if she and/or my memory are to be believed) really was Diana, and if she's still out there somewhere and ever has occasion to do so, I hope she'll forgive me for taking liberties with her story here. I don't know if she ever camped at the Hole in the Wall.
I also want to say that, while the paint huffing part is not fiction, Thumper was extremely kind, exuberantly so. It is not my attempt to demean her in any way, only to shine a light on realities that I think many of us would prefer forgetting.
Hole in the Wall
You meet all kinds of people on the streets —
One Thumper, nee Diana, flecked with gold,
The remnants from her favorite way to fly.
That week that Marco spent with her in camp,
Along the railroad tracks outside downtown,
A place those in the know just called “the Hole,”
was six days longer than he’d planned to stay.
The holidays had brought him low again,
to drugs, to sex, to life away from life.
A place has never been more aptly named;
a wall, a hole, a cellar long forgot,
a world apart, lived mostly in the dark.
They’d met at Harbor Lights in line to eat,
scored drugs from someone she knew at the desk
and walked the railroad line back to her “place.”
They’d both smoke crack and she’d huff paint all day,
and here and there they’d find the time to fuck,
and that’s how Marco spent his lowest week.
and its noon
or its midnight
or its thursday
and with every inhale
every droplet of perspiration
pregnant on the brow
and thumper pregnant too
the immateriality of time made manifest
beneath warehouse district streets
tasting the darkness marco is green
stealing the last of the holiday decorations
from his souls interior
and little cindy lou who
cheek smudged with dirt
books in her hand
coming or going from school
through the hole in the wall
and marco didnt know there were kids
he didnt know who was there
in the haze of no light
forms in the dark
rodents and humans and ghosts of each
mythological conflations of the two
he didnt know and then he did
and what the fuck and hes green and
the contents of his stomach present
themselves at the girls feet and
marco is out
out of the hole and
at the river
at the trestle
and almost over
marcos lowest week is almost over