The child plays
The toy boat sails across the pond
The work now has just begun
Look what you have done.
I could not believe Rosemary had given me her father’s ship lanterns that once hung in the cabin of his sail boat. It was the last tour we would take together of the secret treasures that lie at the bottom of her cedar chest. My mother let me thumb through several issues of Out West magazine while telling me her father was a writer and a poet, but, she never let me read the work of a man I never met, never saw face to face.
Rosemary had read my amazing poems written when I was twelve and thirteen. It was like I was channeling her father, my grandfather, I desperate for an identity, any identity other then the one her husband had given Mark and I when he woke us up at four in the morning to go work in his produce market in Jack London Square – while it was still dark! I was eight, and my brother, nine. We were on Vic-time. The dreams of our peers were set to the clock at school. There, real children were allowed to dream about becoming an airline pilot, an astronaut, even the President of the United States. In our house, come summer time, the hands of the clock were stolen, along with our childhood, replaced by the whims of a tyrant.
“There’s no free lunch in my family. You boys are going to help support your family. You’re going to work.”
These lanterns were beautiful, made of solid brass, and no sooner did I own them, then I lost them, because I was a homeless vagabond, not caring where my next meal would come from, or, if I had a place to rest my head. Perhaps Rosemary gave me Royal’s lanterns as a peace offering, she feeling guilty for driving me from my home when I was seventeen, I ending up in New York working the graveyard shift at Yale Trucking, and living in the West Village. The stevedores called me the California Kid, and were amazed at what a hard worker I was, how strong I was for being so skinny. I had real endurance. I walked to work through Hell’s Kitchen where I bought my first beer in a bar. I was not a man. I did not have to register for the draft, as yet.
“There’s no free lunch in my country. You boys are going to have to fight and kill for your freedom.”
When I told my father I lived aboard a small boat docked in the Oakland estuary, he had to come see it, for I had stepped on his secret dream, even intercepted it, because Vic was inspired by Jack London. What fatherless young man growing up in Oakland did not entertain the idea they could go down to the waters edge and become a Pirate, make a living stealing other people’s oysters?
Captain Victim stole other people’s houses for a living, along with his best friend, Ernie Quinonis. Vic would brag how her would get drunk with Ernies’s brothers, especially Art, who was the head of the Mexican Mafia, and was in and out of San Quinten. Art made Vic an honary member of his family, and he and Ernie started to go to Puerto Varte to purchase Time Shares. I wondered if they were laundering money, because it was in Puerto Varte that Vic met Consuela his wife to be, that he smuggled over the border in a marijuana shipment.
When Dee-Dee knocked Captain Victime’s eye out with a four pound ashtray, he wore a black patch over one eye. Everyone pointed out how much he looked like the pirate on the Oakland Raider’s helmets. I have titled my father, Darth Vader. But when I saw this name on a letter sent to him by one of Vic’s loyal Bill Collector’s, the fog I was marooned in most of my life, began to lift.
When I drank with my father, who was in the Merchant Marines. he would tell me about his tough as nails Captain, who was a Communist. He had shown Vic the ropes, and made a man out of him. He taught my father how to box, and he would win his matches on the deck o his ship as he sailed the Elusians. Vic told me he was made an honorary member of a Eskimo tribe when he gave the chief a knife.
As we stood on the dock looking down on my sailboat, Vic said something vicious and demeaning to Ernie, and I saw Wolf Larsen, with one hand on his hip, and the other holding his pecker as he took another piss on my dream. My boat was not big enough, he hard pressed to believe I was happy living in such cramped quarters. I told him I was very happy, because I lived in a secret boatyard hidden in the Southern Pacific rail yard, and when I felt cramped I would walk to the end of the old wooden pier where one could see the city of San Francisco floating on the horizon. At night, it was an island of gems, whose sparkling lights were temporarily blocked out by a freighter making its way up the estuary, from a foreign land. I had the best view in the whole bay area, and falling asleep, my boat was gently rocked in the wake.
Studying the photos of the interior of my boat, I notice there is a typewriter and a drawing pad. I own the tools to forge my own dream, the compass to chart my own course. There is a image of Jesus, and an antique tea cup I purchased at Goodwill to replicate the fine antiques we grew up with, thanks to the Stuttmiesters. I was a devotee of Meher Baba, and his photo would have been there in place of Jesus, if I had found one. No one knew I was here. I should have never brought my father here, for this inspired him to own two boats, two classic Chris Crafts that he docked in Martinez, that I was not welcome to board, because I had not proven my loyalty to him, not like his namesake, my younger sister Vicki whom he gave keys to, keys to his kingdom, the Kingdom of the Sea.
Above is the cover of Out West magazine, of August 191. That is a drawing of Californian seaweed, called Plocamium Coccineum. It would amuse me to author poems under this alias so I would be even more anonymous, and insignificant, if only to please my father – beyond the grave.
“Just call me Sea………………..Sea Weed!”
Inside we find a poem by R.R.R. in the Index.
The fisherman’s Home
The twilight sad, the sea – a certain waste;
The mainsail taut, to part the jib inclines:
Faster then the breeze our hearts make haste
With fishes from the trolling lines.
Ahead the boat the gloomy island looms
In direful silence, and-to-me-
In vagueness as of aged tombs,
In awesome outline giant mystery.
Behold! Within the lea a light’s bright flash;
Then hidden in the swells-below, above:
The real, infinite and mysteries crash:
Behold a domicile of love
In searching for another dream, other then the dark ship my father would have me stow my gentle heart within, I came to to plumb the phantom heart of a poet I never met. And after three seers told me I had died carrying much guilt that did not belong to me, I recall, the poem I wrote, the first in two years. I had a vision of my father in a row boat, he a young man setting out to sea in search of his dream; and for a little while we were one, and the same.
The Dark Horse is in the ocean
grey-silver manes around the sun
The horn of the eye plays chords out to sea
which sets adrift my father’s boat
of wood and colored scales
to catch the blue fish of the mind.
The setting sun
like a golden ring
He place upon one hand.
And bring home his days catch
Crystal colors upon the sand.
My father never met his father-in-law, who was banished from his home, never his four beautiful daughters – to see. Victor told me he made a loan for Jack London’s daughter, who offered him one of her father’s first edition books – there on a shelf.
“Which book did you chose?” asked I.
“Martin Eden.” was my father’s reply, who chose to believe I never loved him, til the day he die!
Jack London published in Out West, and the Overland Monthly.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to: navigation, search
Overland Monthly cover, January 1919Overland Monthly was a monthly magazine based in California, United States, and published in the 19th and 20th century.
The magazine’s first issue was in July 1868, and continued until the late 1875. The original publishers, in 1880, started The Californian, which became The Californian and Overland Monthly in October 1882. In January 1883, the effort reverted to The Overland Monthly (starting again with Volume I, number 1). In 1923 the magazine merged with Out West to become Overland Monthly and the Out West magazine, and ended publication in July 1935.
Famous writers, editors, and artists included:
John Brayshaw Kaye
Josephine Clifford McCracken
Hugo Wilhelm Arthur Nahl
Stephen Powers – on California Native Americans.
Clark Ashton Smith
Charles Warren Stoddard
Joseph Pomeroy Widney – contributed 8 articles.