Jim Harrison has been a large influence in my life for a long time. He holds those strings that tug at my soul and I’m glad for it. Since I’m a bit busy for something original, I’ll pass along some of my favorites by this American icon.
Sometimes this makes the world shrink.
I want to die in the saddle. An enemy of civilization.
I want to walk around in the woods, fish and drink.
I’m going to be a child about it and I can’t help it,
I was born this way and it makes me very happy to fish and drink.
I left when it was still dark and walked on the path to the river,
the Yellow Dog, where I spent the day fishing and drinking.
After she left me and I quit my job and wept for a year and all
my poems were born dead, I decided I would only fish and drink.
Water will never leave earth and whiskey is good for the brain.
What else am I supposed to do in these last days but fish and drink?
In the river was a trout and I was on the bank, my heart in my chest,
clouds above, she was in NY forever and I, fishing and drinking.
And this one makes it grow.
I believe in steep drop-offs, the thunderstorm across the lake
in 1949, cold winds, empty swimming pools,
the overgrown path to the creek, raw garlic,
used tires, taverns, saloons, bars, gallons of red wine,
abandoned farmhouses, stunted lilac groves,
gravel roads that end, brush piles, thickets, girls
who haven’t quite gone totally wild, river eddies,
leaky wooden boats, the smell of used engine oil,
turbulent rivers, lakes without cottages lost in the woods,
the primrose growing out of a cow skull, the thousands
of birds I’ve talked to all of my life, the dogs
that talked back, the Chihuahuan ravens that follow
me on long walks. The rattler escaping the cold hose,
the fluttering unknown gods that I nearly see
from the left corner of my blind eye, struggling
to stay alive in a world that grinds them underfoot.
This keeps it in front of us.
Seventy days on the river with a confusion between river turbulence and human tribulation. We are here to be curious not consoled. The gift of the gods is consciousness not my forlorn bleating prayers for equilibrium, the self dog-paddling in circles on its own alga-lidded pond. Emily Walter wrote: “We are given rivers so we know our hearts can break, but still keep us breathing.”
This keeps us dreaming.
The Golden Window
I hope to define my life, whatever is left,
by migrations, south and north with the birds
and far from the metallic fever of clocks,
the self staring at the clock saying, “I must do this.”
I can’t tell the time on the tongue of the river
in the cool morning air, the smell of the ferment
of greenery, the dust off the canyon’s rock walls,
the swallows swooping above the scent of raw water.
It’s good to feel. Cheers Jim.