Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 7 No. 1 | Spring 1985

FROM THE ELECTIONS OF OUR LIVES 1976 ning is wonderful, the trees really are # help, but then they hold your pain forever, they don’t release it, and so as the weeks and months go by and your lover hasn't returned and you begin to know that he never will, the giants stand around you as at the raw moment of his departure. You can’t ever escape the pain because now it is your landscape. Some of my depression must have been the elections. Weird how they are always the week after Halloween, how our presidents are selected in Scorpio when the sun falls so dark into Fall toward Winter. I was going to vote straight for the first time since 1964, which was the year I first voted. By 1968 I had been radicalized: I felt that to vote for the lesser of two evils was to shun my basic responsibility as a citizen of the United States. To vote for the lesser of two evils was as much a contribution to the mess of our political system as any. Things had to change. Let it begin with me. Of course others always argued that I was just throwing away my vote. So some of my depression must have been stemming from this. I was going to vote straight, an admittance of defeat in my personal politics. On the other hand I was a little excited too, tickled, to use my mother’s word, which may be a Southern expression as my mother is Southern. This year I was going to vote for the South. Having traveled there that summer, I was aware of how despised Southerners feel. “We re the niggers to the rest of American,” one of them said to me. The South is in many ways still a defeated country. No one there seemed able to believe that the United States had nominated a Southerner to run for the Presidency. I was going to vote for the South, for my family and for Galen, the man who had taken me to his home that summer in Tennessee, after Max left. Ha! I was going to vote for that old Born Again Baptist from Georgia who quoted Bob Dylan's “It's All Right Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” in his acceptance speech of the nomination. (He who is not buzy being born is buzy dying.) There were some local issues and races I planned to vote on too. I managed to get to Mendocino. It was pitch black already. I drove down into the village to Ted and Judy’s house. As usual my entire mood changed. I love people. I just wish when I’m alone feeling like hell I could remember how different it will be when I get out. Ted and Judy had been our last great couple. Just before the breakup, probably in the strains of both longtime marriages, we had even found all four of ourselves, one night in a San Francisco hotel room, in bed together. Their room of course; they had the money. Max and I, for the balance, were the beautiful crazies. But it was Judy and Max who had the great time on the other side of the enormous bed. Ted and I, the two heavies in the foursome, were utterly impotent with each other, both of us more concerned with what was going on with our mates than ■I 1 he redwoodsseem to absorbpain, which in the beginning is wonderful, butthen the)’holdyourpainforever, andsoasthe weeks and months go by and your lover hasn’t returned, the giantsstandaroundyou asat therawmoment ofhisdeparture. afraid I couldn’t shift, make the curve, my paralysis, my depression was so deep. The loss hit me when I came down over the last rise of Albion Ridge and saw the ocean and land in all directions. I could see my whole life in that sky and the sea and the sun as it disappeared. It was getting dark so early. They’d turned back the clock the week before Halloween, as if to announce it. The polls closed at seven. I had about two hours. Sometimes I think the beauty of the Mendocino Coast makes pain harder to bear. The redwoods seem to absorb pain, which in the beginmy poems. neighbors’ big beautiful thing that ejaculated mid-air as he followed us through the woods when Itook her out on the rope, mockingly keeping his distance from the stick I swung at the pack. And that other one, such an ugly, sneaky creature that Geneva seemed to favor. I kept thinking of Shiva who lived down the road. She was known to meditate many hours a day with a gun in her lap. “If your dog doesn’t stop barking while I’m meditating," she told a neighbor, “I’m going to shoot it.” I was beginning to understand how she felt. The kids, though, were becoming more and more social. It seemed they were rarely home. I couldn’t force myself out. Halloween, the week before, I had stayed home alone and actually frightened myself. I began to suspect I really was a witch. I couldn’t keep a fire going. My puppy, Geneva, was in her first heat and from out of the woods came all manner of male dogs, who howled and fought each And it was election day, November 6. I always voted. I, like all good Americans, considered voting my patriotic duty. So, late in the afternoon, after writing all day about the American Revolution, trying to make poetry about that, and of Max’s desertion, I drove to Mendocino to cash his check and to vote. I will always be somewhat surprised, in witness to myself and to others, how devastating Soon I ShallBe Released BY SHARON DOUBIAGO DRAWING BY HENK PANDER There was no food in the cupboards and there was no money in any of my pockets. Max had sent a small check the week before. I hadn’t wanted to cash it, the bastard, but then I reasoned he did just up and leave us without any source of income. As the months had worn on I had become more, not less, devastated by the breakup of our nine-year marriage. David was sixteen and Darien was thirteen. They were devastated themselves, especially Darien. I was beginning to suspect the reason he left was because he couldn’t handle her puberty—they had been practically inseparable since she was four when he moved in with us. That, and the fact that I had finally decided I was really a poet, that for all its uselessness and silliness, as he always pointed out, I had to write. I had been holed up for weeks in the cold dark cabin on Albion Ridge trying to write Clinton St. Quarterly 21