The Street of Lost Steps
Jim Carroll hits the west coast, his visions and dreams fueled by getting off junk. He’s on the methadone plan. He writes of successfully becoming an “anti-social hermit.” This is nearly fifty years before Patti Smith arrives in Year of the Monkey. Same coast. Her dreams come from a sign in front of the Dream Motel. No! That’s where she is. She’s in the west, but she’s moving in and out of dreams and times like a migrating butterfly. I’m cross-fertilizing Carroll and Smith with Jim Harrison and Charles Simic (Dime Store Alchemy), and one of them, not Carroll, also mentioned hermits—but not the anti-social kind. In fact, that’s underlined. Now I can’t find the reference, and it seems like a key, or the other half of a key—a completeness that if I found it, if I could put them together, I might know what I’m becoming. Am I an anti-social hermit or the other kind? Dazzling and mysterious in my exquisite reclusion?
I come upon a flock of pigeons huddled up in an alcove off Broadway—I stop—
one bold pigeon heads right up to me—the leader, the fearless beggar eyeing me
with that dull sideways look—I move on—I’ve got things to do up and down this street—
it seems like I’m going in circles—it’s evening dark when I pass that alcove again—
cop cars with lights flashing, cops gathered around that alcove hustling
a man in rags who looks over at me as though I’m to blame—
Douglas Cole has published six collections of poetry and a novella. His work has appeared in several anthologies as well as The Chicago Quarterly Review, The Galway Review, Bitter Oleander, Louisiana Literature and Slipstream. He has been nominated twice for a Pushcart and Best of the Net and received the Leslie Hunt Memorial Prize in Poetry. He lives and teaches in Seattle.