Fall 2010 / Issues / Poetry 2010 / Volume 41

Some Lines for Len Schrader — Charles Aukema

Your Calvin days were black boots,

black pants, black shirt, black beret,

and black sports coat, Goth before

Goth, and then

the herky-jerk ride with your parents

from Michigan to Iowa City,

the matchstick game from

Last Year at Marrienbad we played

for free drinks in Kenny’s, infinite

pool with Willy and Jones in Donnelly’s,

music and dancing at L’l Bills,

an attic game of Durrenmat’s Traps

at Black’s Gaslight Village, then

Donoso and Vonnegut, Algren and

Bourjaily, Scholes, Yates, Coover, a vast

Faulknerian stream of consciousness

arising above the poisonous Viet Nam

fog gulping us down, you escaping to

Japan, going underground, losing a wife,

finding Chieko and Yaku^a, coming back

with both story and wife, you and Paul

dancing in the streets, “no more chicken

delight,” the telephone calls, “OWW…kema”

like the voice of God, uproarious laughter,

another story, another script, another book,

another quirky twist from that wonderful

labyrinthine black cave of a house

you live in with Chieko and the wolves

who eat the black couch I sometimes

sleep on, careful not to look either one

of them in the eye, the living room walls

packed from floor to ceiling with cassettes

and DVDs, the stairs packed with magazines,

the upper hallway all shelved from floor to

ceiling with books meticulously arranged

alphabetically by genre and subject,

each bedroom shelved wall to wall from

floor to ceiling, across blackened windows

and over radiators with books and more

books, each one of them bookmarked and

outlined for passages into other worlds,

other scripts, other stories, the telephone

ringing “OWWW…kema,” this time from Brazil,

you and Hurt calling from a torture chamber

to talk to Iowa, another call, this time to lavish –

praise on your brother’s latest movie,

“OWW…kema,” all those late night calls

I loved, the voice, the laughter I loved,

those times out in Jeannine’s back yard

talking story while bi-planes from Santa

Monica Airport divebombed her house,

all the frisian stuff we talked about,

the Dutch Mafia, calvin reprobates,

you with that shock of your father’s

black hair prowling like a bear

in your den as you morphed into

a dragon, speaking fire and jewels,

“OWW…kema,” aU those late night calls

I loved, the voice, the laughter I loved,

hey, Len,

pick up the phone,

call home

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