Maximus, at Tyre and at Boston
It is October.
The sunflowers have dropped their seeds.
It is the season of husks, of harvest.
We are getting ready for a dark time.
I am change averse.
Averse to change.
But it is not my decision.
What we do,
what is done around us.
What is done to us.
The world is changing. The world is changed.
She is fighting back.
Our armour, our honor
Will not save us.
Some expect her face
To color with shame.
The throwing down of hierarchy
Has become a hierarchy itself.
We still live in the weeds, pick seeds
From the ground.
We are casting our armour down.
Our skin shines in the autumn sun.
Tut-tut, Tuttle, and the Negress Maria.
How dare she.
How dare they.
How dare we.
We carry more than our selves.
A Plantation a beginning
It is winter now.
Not by the calendar, but
by the snow underfoot,
the delivery of oil,
the free parking
at Stage Fort Park.
It is winter.
The whole world
On the radio politicians
are ruining language,
among other things.
Ideals. I only go
to the kitchen
when I need more coffee.
It took $30,000
to get Gloucester started up.
We have stayed there,
with the coming and going,
on this thin soil.
What is changing
Ask the mayor
who makes Gloucester.
She will tell you.
She will list
different cities altogether.
Or no cities.
She will list families.
She may even list
Gloucester is changing.
in 1623 or 1624,
that was not
That was a change.
Maximus, to Gloucester
I don’t have anything against history, really,
except for what it leaves out.
And what it allows.
History lets us justify, protect, venerate.
I realized, as my mother was losing her mind,
that nobody could tell me the truth.
The truth had, as it will, diffused
into hundreds of stories, kept in memories,
boxes of things in the basement,
vectors whose original force
nobody could name.
The man who owns my bar
doesn’t know, for instance,
that Tiger Marston’s mother,
who lived in that house at the end of Dennison
where you spent time with Ed Sanders and Robert Creeley,
Tiger Marston’s mother was my grandmother’s best friend,
and her llama would spit at us as we would swing
on a tire near the stone house.
When he tells me who Tiger is I don’t tell him I know.
And when Tiger tells me, at that bar,
how he just managed to get to shore, through the howling wind
(I can still smell it on him)
and the waves in the Annisquam were such
that he had to come downtown, down the canal,
instead of heading toward the mouth of the bay,
I don’t remind him of the house he visited, looking across
from River Road to Wingaersheek Beach.
But I am writing it here, so it isn’t lost.
I don’t speak ill of the Babsons, though
they surely have some skeletons in their closets.
I doubt anybody will know
the story of my friend Amanda Babson
dressing Joanie on the Pony
and the Fisherman at the wheel
in drag. Unless I write it here.
That’s not a skeleton, really. But a memory.
I am not rustling bones right now.
My house is the worst on this block.
The cheapest thing with floors,
when we were looking.
We have no yard
but the streets and a small garden.
Fifteen minutes’ walk to the harbor.
When my children were babies
we walked to the park near your house,
and the park out your other eye.
The problem with it, where to out the poor and the poets–
this too is subject to change.
We are still using it up, taking
what we can, what we will,
the people in power,
their houses on hills,
those are still the names we know
And it’s beautiful, driving down from Blackburn
to Grant Circle,
even that little stretch of highway
is a treat for the eyes.
At high tide the water in the marsh
is so high
you can just see the top
of the marsh grass.
Fish. It’s not like that, anymore–
the silver isn’t in the fish, but the land,
the idea. The silver is Gloucester, so
beautiful, so close to the city, so nice
to live here. The names we know,
the people who pay the lawyers,
they make sure the others
(I won’t use your words here)
don’t get too close.
Not in my back yard,
they say, without saying.
Character. Tradition. History.
I think of your scream to the editor.
I’ll fight for the living.
AMANDA COOK is changing in a changing world. She lives in Gloucester, Mass. with her husband James and her children Ais and Sam. Cook has traded sourdough starter for sour beers, back up singing for ukulele sets online, and social events for succulents. She is thankful it took Olson so long to write the Maximus poems, as it may take as long for her to respond. Her book Ironstone Whirlygig was published by Bootstrap Press in 2018.