Tuesday, August 15, 2017

field of play



I walked the line from first to home
through grass as thick as young boys’ hair had been
on evenings just like this
when this field roared

with cracks of hard balls on hard wood
whaps in soft leather struck and holding
safe slides in gravely dirt scratched denim
snazzy jazz drum swishes

cheers for our side’s glory
taunts of their side’s failing eyesight
dropped catches
missed balls

I can see the lines from memory
could walk the long gone chalk
in late summer light
over this old field of play

August 2017

Sunday, August 06, 2017





August 6, 2017



I haven’t written much this summer.  At this point, I would have usually written out something on one or another impression; cold swims, rain, the animals that visit, the hummingbirds that buzz-bomb me as I pinch spent flowers from a plant they enjoy feeding upon. Nor have the tumult and drama of our political circus moved me to write anything out.  Much of it just sits in my brain stewing or has settled in my knees and shoulders. 
   

I lost my friend Florence Silverman this summer and I wrote about her. And I recently learned of another death, Sam Yasgur, a man I knew only briefly a few summers ago but who left a powerful impression. He had been fighting cancer for some time and died last June. Maybe this summer isn’t about birds and swims and sunsets, or Washington; rather, I will remember it as a summer when people I cared about were no more.


Sam Yasgur loved to ride motorcycles over the hills of Bethel, NY. I got to know him during the making of a documentary and we spoke over the course of a week or two about Woodstock and his father Max, who made the three days of music and art in August 1969 possible by renting his cow pastures to Michael Lang.


Sam showed up on a clean, black Harley Davidson motorcycle and he told me of the rides he was making and planning to make. He talked about his bike and showed me a memento he always carried with him in his saddlebag when he rode that reminded him of someone he loved.  He talked about growing up here in Bethel, about working on his father’s dairy farm and about delivering milk to the Hamlet of Smallwood where I live.


He told me that as a young man, he would volunteer to make the milk deliveries to Smallwood because none of the other drivers would come here. They were afraid of getting lost.  This Hamlet was cut from the woods and fields of Ballard Farm in 1928 and there is little of logic to do with the streets and trails that wander then peter out into dead ends, face first into a stream, or deep into a wood that has not seen an axe for decades and is alive with fox and bear and eagle.  But Sam was comfortable here and understood the plan at some level that precluded the need for a map – if one existed.  


I was saddened to hear of Sam Yasgur’s passing; I would have liked to talk with him again.