Palo Alto, California, 1978 or 1979
Postcard to Kay Boyle
Dear Kay, The Revolution never arrived.
Tonight, far off, flames are singing
to a black sky, a Gaelic god's
shameless indifference. The half-inspired
novelist-revolutionaries you fed
on Frederick Street are now sixty-something,
glum in Tenderloin hotels stacked with tales
no one will publish. A few have chucked words
to craft strawberry-scented candles
on the Mendocino coast... and their meth-addled
children hate the patchouli stench of them.
I hope you have forgiven me for using
your letter of introduction to Beckett
to light a turf fire in Donegal. Kate bakes
brownies as if our kids are still at home.
I spend nights walking toward a fire
maybe fifteen miles across high desert.
God love you, Kay. Never slack-jawed,
never too weary to insist on marzipan
for every living soul, you were beautiful
as soft Irish rain. Where you are,
I hope you have settled in with your beloveds,
Joyce, McAlmon, Beckett, and Ernest Walsh...
and that Hemingway is not
there to taunt you. Love, Red
* This poem is included in Red Shuttleworth's 2010 poetry chapbook, Drug Store Vaquero (Phoenix: The Basement).