Studio of Edwin & Marcia Ward

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Cover photo: Marcia Ward


Diaper Dance

as always
for Marcia

My first son was born at home thirty-two years ago when I was thirty-three. In an attempt to reinvent myself after six years of teaching followed by six years of waiting tables, I broke all the common sense rules of getting ahead. I was so Be Here Now / in the moment, at this time in my life, so into my belief that I had somehow been anointed, that I sold my house, quit my job, burned a decade’s worth of unfinished manuscripts in a fifty-five gallon drum, stowed a few cherished house hold items (Bob Dylan records, a blender, a dozen or so artworks) with my sister-in-law, and yardsale-ed the bulk of my (i.e., our – me and Marcia’s) belongings. Zen-ing out we called it, this approach to a less-is-more lifestyle. In search of a new home in some other place, we planned to hit the road for a year or so in my van with the money I had made on the sale of our Washington Park home and live off of the interest of the owner-will-carry loan I’d made to the buyer. So to celebrate my wife’s twenty-fifth birthday, the first three months of our son’s life, and our seeming good fortune, we went on a waiter’s holiday of sorts to a neighborhood restaurant, The Plum Tree, on Pennsylvania Street. We hoped to eat the best food Wash Park had to offer at a place outside the envelope of our new parent lives.

We arrive at The Plum Tree with a pocket full of cash and baby in arms. Among the happiest people in the world we could be counted as we approach the front door of The Plum Tree. I’m so fucking happy, in fact, that the first hint of unwelcome-ness encountered I let ride, although I tuck it away in my “un-pleasantries” file, when we are told by the maitre d’ that the restaurant is not yet open. “We open at five; you’ll have to come back then.” Well. I’m not into jewelry but I do wear a watch, a Timex inherited from my father a dozen years ago, and it lets me know that it is four fifty eight, almost four fifty-nine as the second hand is half way around the dial. It’s not so much the information imparted that I find off-putting, but the antagonistic and authoritarian tone of its delivery. This maitre de apparently is clueless when it comes to any notion of “friendly service.”

“Well, we’ll be back in a minute,” I deadpan to the grump of a host, adding, “I understand you have no liquor license but we can bring our own; so I’ll just spend the next sixty seconds procuring a bottle of wine from the liquor store across Bayaud and return when you are open,” careful to exaggerate the pronunciation and longevity of the two syllables, “O” and “pen.” My disdain is now rather transparent, as the maitre d’s strict enforcement of The Plum Tree’s hours of operation has moved his gracelessness from the “un-pleasantry” classification to one of aggressive, hostile prissy-ness.

When we return from the liquor store with our wine (a couple of bottles of Louis Jadot’s Beajoulas Villages – the same wine we drank four years ago during the first night Marcia and I spent together (it was the only red wine in Laramie that I could find that had a cork!) - I can’t help but notice the maitre d’s continued unwarranted incivility when he attempts to seat us in the completely empty restaurant at a back two top by the bathroom doors. Ignoring his request to follow him I direct Marcia to a corner four top by the front window where I spread our belongings - wine, Marcia’s serape, diaper bag, and my Stetson Panama – about the empty chairs. When the maitre d’ realizes we have not followed him his sigh of disbelief is as audible as is the clatter of fine china, silverware, and crystal made by me as I gather up the two unnecessary place settings and slide them to the side of the table top to make room for Passion, our infant, upon his removal from the Snuggly Marcia wears. Upon his awakening, propped up in my arms upon the French linen of the table top he beams as only a recently changed, breast milk fed, well rested baby can: beatifically. His cooing signals his appreciation for the newness of this environment. Most things outside our Pearl Street residence in his young life are “firsts.” Similarly, this is our first time eating out with him.

Soon a waiter arrives, a nice enough fellow, who seems unaware of the maitre d’s lack of appreciation for us. A bus boy removes the extra place settings as the waiter opens our Beajoulas while detailing the evening’s specials. We order extravagantly as, after all, we are on a waiter’s holiday, something I let our waiter in on, going as far as to mention I’d just resigned my position as head waiter at Denver’s premiere seafood establishment, The Boston Half Shell, in downtown Denver, a remark which is overtly code in the waiter world signifying that we are brothers of a sort and a great tip is in the offing, information that is not lost on our waiter as he quickly returns with a second round of warm bread without our asking. As I’ve said we are on a waiter’s holiday and it is Marcia’s birthday so we have ordered sundry appetizers, soup and salads, all of which we enjoy before we order our entrees.

Soon my Timex tells me it’s six and now the restaurant starts filling up with both walk-ins and reservations. A party of eight is seated next to us and I can’t help but notice that the maitre d’ pays them especial attention, addressing some by name, leading me to believe that they are regulars enamored of the trendy Plum Tree. With feigned aristocratic formality, the maitre d’ asks if he should inform their waiter that, as usual, they will be having two of every appetizer on the menu, all this while unfolding the napkins that sit fanned across the dinner plates which he places on the laps of all. When he turns away from the table to return to his station at the door and looks inadvertently in my direction, my smirk and glare shamelessly inform him that I found his fawning to be as pretentious as it was shallow, reminded, as I am, of every ass kissing insincere suck-up I have ever met. It’s amazing what an aggrieved countenance can reveal.

Soon our main course arrives: veal scaloppini for me and shrimp saltimbocca for Marcia. The smells are so flavorful that I ask that our waiter compliment the chef on our behalf. The plated presentation is as beautiful as the food is delicious. Unfortunately, I do not get to finish, because as I attempt a second bite, my reverie is ruined as I become aware that the maitre d’ is addressing me with a fervid hostility bordering on verbal assault. “The smell of shit, sir, is pervading the restaurant; please remove your child to the restroom.”

I look at Marcia. She is aghast and knows the maitre d’s assertions to be a lie as not two minutes before she had breast-fed Passion under the cover of baby blanket and serape and had Passion’s diaper been fouled, she would have known. In fact, she knows he’s not even wet his diaper, and this she silently mouths to me. “It’s dry.”

I stand abruptly and turn to face the maitre de behind me. I announce to him most poetically, “I am deaf to all but truth and hence know not a word you’ve uttered. Let’s try again. What did you say? Perhaps I can read your lips, their lies.”

“The smell of shit, sir, pervades my restaurant. Remove your baby to the bathroom or yourselves from this restaurant!” Time dissolves as does place. I am everyman who has ever suffered prejudice, be it for any reason, great or small. The spirit of an angry Metamora in the person of the tragedian Edwin Forrest overtakes the waiter on a waiter’s holiday. All indignities ever suffered at the hands of titled aristocracy inspire my next moves as I ask, “You mean I do not get to eat this food?” And as the maitre d’ responds “That’s right, now leave my restaurant,” I clear the table where I sat of wine and water and their respective glassware, my veal and china, bread and bread plate, forks, knives and spoon, and respond, “Well, if I don’t get to eat this food, then no one will.”

Needless to say, my host is speechless and agog as I turn to address the other diners in the room. “Excuse me, but I can not abide his lies. The smell of shit does not pervade the room, just the odor of his lies and his foppish pretentiousness. Come on, have we not the right to eat here, or are children simply not welcome among such young professionals as yourselves. Please, tell this man he’s crazy. What have we done that we should be ostracized as he would ostracize us? Please stand up for us, the family that we are.” No one does. All return to eating, ashamed or embarrassed to take a side in this most inane confrontation. None know of our maitre d’s earlier passive aggressive actions.  I look to Marcia who has put Passion in the Snuggly. She intimates with eyes and tilt of head that she would like to leave. I agree as who knows what could possibly come of my sitting back down to eat at an empty table. To punctuate my position that it is Marcia and I who have been wronged, I clear Marcia’s setting as well. I leave a fifty-dollar tip for our waiter who stands dumbfounded at a nearby table without asking for the check. Because Marcia’s wineglass did not shatter when I swept it to the floor, I mazel tov it with my left Birkenstock in a dramatic mockery of a goose-step. Its conversion from stemware to a thousand shards makes an explosive noise similar to a gunshot, a sound which is followed by the swinging kitchen doors exploding open and slamming against decorative hammered copper of the doorway’s border through which passes a gentleman I take to be the chef given the professional carving knife in his right hand. Marcia and I make our way to the front door slowly as the chef surveys the room, paying especial attention to our empty table surrounded as it is by broken china, shattered glass, splattered wine, silverware, and upturned, uneaten scaloppini and saltimbocca. We soon exit not without the help of the chef’s left hand that pushes on my shoulder, so forcefully, that I stumble almost knocking Marcia and our child to the sidewalk. The restaurant door can be heard being locked behind us. Upon arrival at my van we catch our breath and turn back to look upon The Plum Tree, the upscale trendy little eatery where we had hoped to celebrate. The chef stands at the front door, still holding his carving knife and glowering. Given the crimson glow of his countenance and the fogged lenses of his eyewear I deduce that he’s as mad as I am - me for the indignity I’ve suffered; him for the havoc with which I countered his maitre d’s obvious prejudice against children.

Marcia opens the side door of the van to stow the diaper bag, but before she can close it I ask her to give me Passion’s diaper. Still under the influence of my anger I am short with her when she asks “Why?”

“Just give it to me. I’m not finished with The Plum Tree. Just give me the diaper and trust me. This is not over. In fact, please go next door to the Health Food Store and bring some people out. I want witnesses for whatever is about to go down.” Marcia lays Passion on the mattress in the back of my van and changes his diaper. She gives me the unsoiled cloth diaper, which I affix with a rubber band to the end of a folding umbrella that I carry in my van’s side door. The umbrella is the staff of the cotton diaper flag that I will carry into battle. I fearlessly approach The Plum Tree waving my white flag of surrender, a visual proof that the maitre d’s assertion that Passion had filled his diaper with something stinky was bogus. My body language as I waive the diaper at The Plum Tree’s patrons through the window is obvious in its demand that I receive an apology from someone, that at minimum, further discourse is required.

And then out he comes, the chef. He no longer holds the carving knife but the language of his hands says that he wants to strangle me. But as he approaches with his hands raised neck high, I poke the diaper in his direction. It is a comedic dance we do as he feigns and lunges and I parry his advances with a wag of the diaper to his face. Around and round we go as I counter every move he makes, diaper to face with every lunge. Our unrehearsed ballet lasts more than a minute before he rushes headlong with accelerating speed into me, knocking me up against the side of my van. In my heart I know I’ve Charlie Chaplin-ed him and he’s assaulted me. A half dozen witnesses stand on the sidewalk outside the corner heath food store.

He’d like to slam my head against the side of my van but all he can really do, given the people on the corner, is threaten me. “Set foot in my restaurant and I’ll kill you,” he says, to which I reply, “The only way I’ll ever set foot in your restaurant is for you to buy me the dinner I did not get to eat.” He turns to leave and as he does, I remove the diaper from the umbrella and throw it at him. It unfurls like a parachute after passing the zenith of its trajectory before ensconcing his head like a manta ray its prey. Upon its landing he reacts as if he’s been shit upon. His head dances like a hanged man’s in an attempt to remove the cloth without using his hands. His comedy is as sad as mine had been ballet-like.

Needless to say, the chef/owner of The Plum Tree never does offer to buy us dinner. We both attempt to press charges with the police against each other. He wants compensation for his broken dishes and the dinners I trashed and I want him charged with assault. The police decide not to get involved. Still I’d like to think my voodoo diaper dance was part of the equation of The Plum Tree closing before Marcia’s next birthday. Like the butterfly fluttering its wings in the Amazon that leads to a storm in Belize, perhaps my waving of the diaper in June summoned the winds of recession that bankrupted The Plum Tree in October

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


A Sad Simple Truth

as always, for Marcia

The last time I was summoned for jury duty a sad simple truth got me excused.

Arriving in the jury holding room, my number is selected and I find myself in a pool of twenty or so prospective jurors that is to be whittled down to twelve. The judge addresses us with a seriousness befitting the case: “This trial concerns heavy-duty narcotics trafficking. You will be hearing the testimony of police officers and confidential informants who the defense might characterize as liars. So before we begin jury selection, I have a question to ask of you all. Do any of you believe a police officer might lie while testifying?”

I scan the room.  Everyone’s eyes are darting nervously as they look around the room. All are wondering: Is this some sort of trick question? Does the judge really want us to answer? I raise my hand and am called upon to speak.

“Your Honor, not only do I believe a police officer might lie while testifying, I know for a fact that they do. I was a defense witness in a case here in Denver back in 1979. One Charles Ross was charged with assaulting a police officer. I was at the scene, not ten feet away. Two police officers testified. As did I. Their accounts which dovetailed perfectly were entirely fabricated as I had witnessed the event, and I know what I saw happen. Based on my testimony and other inane assertions on the part of the prosecution, the jury acquitted Mr. Ross of all charges. As I said: I don’t believe a police officer might lie, I know they do.” No surprise here: the prosecution dismisses me. But before I am escorted from the courtroom seven other jurors raise their hands to assert their belief that officers might lie while testifying. 

Here is the simple sad truth of Charlie Ross and his acquittal.

Charlie Ross was a student at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder and Allen Ginsberg’s personal secretary. Poetry was our connection as I was heavily involved in producing Denver Poets Day in August of 1979, an event that brought together scores of poets from Denver and Boulder. I collaborated with the bassist Rich Sallee that day and I must say we rocked, as did scores of others including Allen Ginsberg, Larry Lake, my wife Marcia, Ann Waldman, Ken Babs, Andy Clausen, Eileen Miles, and Charlie Ross. It was an exceedingly hot eight hours in the sun as the event ran from 11 AM to 7 PM in Denver’s Civic Center Amphitheater. It was a very emotional day as well. The previous Denver Poets Day in 1978 had honored the notorious Colorado poet James Ryan Morris who had died soon thereafter, and his widow, Diana, her presence at this year’s event – a memorial of sorts for Jimmy - kept the specter of human mortality in play. Tensions between poet egos – academic and street – combined with shade-less triple digit temperatures also contributed to everyone’s exhaustion at day’s end. Wrung out we were. To recuperate many participants decided to head to the Satire Lounge on East Colfax for Mexican food, refreshment and more poetry shoptalk, myself and wife included. Diana Morris asked if her seven-year-old daughter Pagan could ride with me and Marcia as Diana planned on spending a little adult time with and giving a ride to a group of her deceased husband’s friends. Marcia and I agreed to look after Pagan until Diana regrouped with us at The Satire.

Now it’s approximately 8 PM on a summer Saturday night and Pete’s Satire Lounge is packed tight as an unopened pack of Camels. Marcia, Pagan and I are among the first dozen to arrive, and we are seated at a large corner table and the hostess is made aware that another dozen or so are likely to join us. We agree to make the best of the crowded accommodations, assuring the hostess and our waitress that we will stand and sit as need be. Charlie Ross and I are more or less co-hosting this gathering, with Charlie welcoming late arrivals from Boulder and me those from Denver. Pitchers of beer and plates of nachos fill the table as people talk up a storm. A half hour or so into the this impromptu poets rendezvous, above the din, I hear the agitated voice of Diana Morris and I immediately leave the confab of poets and make my way in her direction. A waitress, not ours, is telling Diana that she will have to wait to be seated. When Diana, ignoring the request of the waitress, makes a move in my direction, the out of the loop waitress with her body’s shoulder blocks Diana’s path. She even stiff-arms Diana with her right hand while holding a cocktail tray of drinks in her left. Both the body block and stiff arm prove to be foolishly provocative moves, for Diana asserts with almost divine authority, “No one keeps me from my daughter, bitch,” and throws a mean right hook, knocking the waitress, the cocktails, and civility to the floor. The crowd around the front door dissipates and Diana looms over the stunned waitress. I spy the bartender picking up the phone and whisk Diana out the front door and beg her not to reenter as I step back inside and tender an apology to the waitress: “I’m sorry for what happened. You’ll never know the circumstances surrounding this day. That lady just left a memorial for her dead husband after eight hours in the sun, and you stood between her and her seven-year-old daughter. Again, I apologize and am sorry. Here, please accept this for your troubles, and I hand her a fifty-dollar bill, before exiting to attend to Diana who I find on the sidewalk, contemplating the use of her gun. Her right hand, inside her fringed vest, its fingers fondle the steel of her thirty-eight that hides there. I know she never leaves her cabin in Wondervu without it.

“Diana, you have to leave. The police are on their way. I saw the bartender dialing. I’ll bring Pagan to you later. Please, I am your friend and I’m begging you. Go, Pagan will be fine and we’ll meet up at Jesse’s later.” Keep in mind; I am speaking to one of the most intense persons I have ever met. Fierce, addled, capable, agitated, mean, gun-totting, upset, angry, grieving, vindictive, vengeful, crazy, and on the verge of mayhem are but a baker’s dozen applicable descriptions of the present and imminent danger with which I am confronted on this hot summer Colfax Avenue sidewalk Saturday night. Distant sirens grow louder as Diana contemplates her next move. “Diana, Pagan does not need your being arrested. Please go before it’s too late.” Mention of Pagan brings common sense into the mix and Diana thanks me as she gets into her Subaru, which is parked illegally, blocking as it does the Colfax entrance to the Satire parking lot. But instead of heading east Diana accelerates into the parking lot at a high rate of speed and purposefully smashes into a Cadillac parked diagonally on the west side of the lot, twice, seriously damaging the rear quarter panel and rear end of the formerly cherry sedan. Then without assessing traffic she backs out haphazardly onto Colfax and races east right through red lights at Race, Vine, Josephine and York. I’m not sure if I am dreaming given the last three minutes of my life. But, guess what, the craziness is just beginning.

Back inside, I realize that I don’t want to be here when the police arrive so I gather up Marcia and Pagan and suggest that Charlie and his intimate crew (he’s got four Boulder poets and two children riding in his van) follow me, as we had originally planned to convene back at Drew Becker’s house after dinner to listen to recordings of the day, and Charlie did not know where Drew lived.

Now both Charlie and I had parked our vans in the Satire parking lot on the east side. Since we were going to head towards Elizabeth Street where Drew lived and because the south east exit of the parking lot was now awash in police activity, there were two squad cars and a couple of police motor cycles clogging that end of the lot, I suggest to Charlie that we simply back out onto Colfax and avoid the boondoggle at the Race Street exit. It will be a hard maneuver so I tell Charlie I’ll guide him backwards when it’s safe to do so.

I am behind his van guiding him rearward when a voice out of nowhere that brooks no dissent barks out orders: “Stop right there. You just backed into that Cadillac. Exit your vehicle with your hands up.” Now only two people on earth know the circumstances surrounding the damage to Pete’s -the owner of the Satire Lounge - Cadillac, and I am one of them. Furthermore, not only does the officer ordering Charlie out of his van not know what I know, he also is apparently unaware I am even present, standing between Charlie’s van and the damaged goods that is Pete’s Caddy.

I make my presence known by stepping into plain view of the officer who has come out of hiding and is now standing by Charlie’s door and announce, “If this van just hit that Cadillac, I guess I’m an unsubstantial and invisible man, a ghost, because it would have had to run me over in order to hit it, seeing as how I’ve been behind it guiding my friend the whole time,” an assertion to which the officer has no reply or rebuttal. It is apparent to him that I am giving lie to his charge that Charlie hit Pete’s car. The silence is as deafening as the situation is volatile. The electricity in the air has my neck hair standing up. Where can this conversation possibly go from here? The cop needs an out but can’t come up with one, so I do. Not pressing my knowledge that I’ve caught him in a lie, I ask the officer politely to help us back both of our vans out onto Colfax so Charlie can follow me, a request the cop takes up without any further talk of Charlie having damaged the Cadillac. The officer steps out onto Colfax blocking the right lane. I back up out onto the Fax and head east with Charlie doing likewise. We do not run the red lights at Vine and Race, as had Diana, but before reaching York I notice a police car in the left hand lane motioning with siren and lights that Charlie (whose van is immediately behind mine), that Charlie pull over to the curb. I do so as well and exit my van to see what’s going on, as I fear further police inappropriateness. I just caught one lying and can’t imagine any reason why Charlie’s been made to pull over. I am all ears and eyes as I approach the scene.

Charlie is clearly upset and bewildered. Angry as well. A huge cop exits the shotgun side of the squad car and tells Charlie to exit his vehicle. Charlie’s window is down and he asks, agitatedly,  why he’s being stopped. The officer provides no answer and again tells him to exit his vehicle. Charlie hesitates. Given that another cop had tried to pin an accident on him less than two minutes ago Charlie is hesitant, reluctant, fearful, wide-eyed, and not ready to comply. He is not about to simply roll over. Again, he asks why he’s been pulled over and this time the cop comes up with a reason: “the George Carlin poster in your rear van window is blocking your view and that makes this an unsafe vehicle,” to which Charlie replies with unfettered disbelief and exasperation, “Jesus Christ, I sometimes sleep in my van and the poster affords me privacy. I live in Boulder and have been stopped for traffic violations and no other officer has ever mentioned the poster. Hell, commercial vans have spray painted rear windows, so thieves can’t see what’s inside and semis have only side view mirrors” a retort which seems to infuriate the cop if his next actions are any indication.

In one deft move the cop reaches though Charlie’s open window with his left hand, depresses the handle and opens the van door. With his right hand he grabs Charlie by his long hair and the back of his neck, forcing Charlie to exit and move rearwards along the side of the panel van, out of sight of Mary Lu, Charlie’s girlfriend, who rides shot-gun. Once Charlie is toe to toe with him, the cop exclaims, “Well this ain’t Boulder, punk, and your hippie van ain’t no big rig” and then the six foot six, two hundred and fifty pound cop slams the five foot six, one hundred and twenty pound Charlie face down across the hood of the patrol car, following up the slam down with a half a dozen whacks to the back of the skull with a night stick he removes from his utility belt. A bloodied and broken nosed Charlie is then handcuffed and taken away in a second police car that has arrived because there already is a shadowy third person in the back seat driver’s side, someone not in uniform, an earlier arrestee, perhaps. This is the second act of utter bizarreness that again I seem to be the only witness to, as neither the people in Charlie’s van nor the officer driving the cop car, given his sightline, could see what actually transpired. Only me as I stand in the street on the driver’s side of my van, not ten feet from where Charlie was assaulted.

Later that night I bail Charlie out of jail. He’s been charged with numerous offenses, crimes such as resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer, disturbing the peace, but I note, not with driving with an obstructed view. Well, to make a long story short, Charlie is offered a deal. Plead to disturbing the peace or some such nonsense and all the more serious charges will be dropped. Sounds easy, but poets are not a simple lot. Many, you might say, are principled. And as Keats wrote, truth is beauty. Thus, Charlie poetically tells the DA to take his deal and shove it up the ass of the officer who attacked him, one Officer Brooks. Charlie wants a jury trial and he eventually gets it. His girlfriend’s brother-in-law, a Denver lawyer, represents him. I am to be the defense’s primary witness, along with my wife who can place me at the scene. The DA is annoyed that Charlie did not take the offered deal and so he plays hard ball, going as far as to sequester me away from Marcia during the trial, as if a husband and wife would not be on the same page. The DA has never bothered to depose me because, after all, he has two officers who will testify that Charlie came out of his van swinging and that Charlie’s injuries were a result of Officer Brooks having to subdue him. A third prosecution witness, a wanna be cop police dispatcher, who was doing a Saturday night ride-along in the back seat of Brook’s cruiser, will also testify that Charlie came out swinging. This means that when I take the stand only Charlie’s attorney is in the know as to what I will say.

First defense council exposes my background. A Jesuit educated prep-ster, with a Bachelors Degree in Humanities and Technology from Drexel University in Philadelphia, my recent six year stint as an English teacher and president and contract negotiator for the Woodbury Teacher’s Association present me as someone quite different from the long-haired sleeping-in-his-van Texas hippie that Charlie appears to be. My testimony, along with the rehearsed pat testimony of law enforcement, not to mention the unbelievable assertion that skinny little Charlie would attack the hulking buff Brooks, left little doubt that this hot Saturday night altercation was nothing more than a machismo cop taking out his dislike of the brazen and long-haired (and possibly of George Carlin as well) on an innocent kid who had the audacity to be upset at being harassed. The cops’ rendition was perceived as the utter fabrication it was and a jury of his peers exonerated Charlie on all counts. It’s hard to believe that the DA had ever bought it; chances are he simply resented Charlie for telling him to take his deal and shove it. And Charlie Ross didn’t stop there. He later filed a civil suit against the officers involved, alleging false arrest and assault, a case that would drag through the courts for years. Unfortunately, during the time Charlie’s civil case snaked its way about the legal system, we had a falling out – a separate story in itself having to do with Gregory Corso, LSD, and a female black-belt bouncer at the Blue Note on the Boulder mall – and we lost track of each other.

Then one day in late 1984 I get a call from Charlie on a Sunday night. He informs me that earlier that afternoon he had learned that his civil suit is going to trial on Tuesday, after having been postponed almost ad infinitum. After all this time, after having been falsely arrested and beaten by a Denver cop, not to mention, abused by a legal system that forced him to go into debt to his lawyer, that he might win some satisfaction, not to mention money, was a godsend to Charlie’s impoverished family. I mean poetry is truth and beauty but it is neither food nor clothing nor rent. He was calling to see, despite our differences surrounding the Gregory Corso affair, if I would testify again. He was hoping to scrape up airfare from others in the commune where he lived with Mary Lu and their four children.

“Of course” is my response. “Let me know when you’ll be landing and I’ll even pick you up at Stapleton. You can stay with me and Marcia.” He tells me he will call back in the morning once he knows his flight info.

Now personally, I’m looking forward to Tuesday as I’ve always wondered whether Officer Brooks ever came out of the S&M closet that was his police uniform. My gaydar, no matter how inexact the science behind it, had led me to believe that the police dispatcher in the back seat of Brooks patrol car that August Saturday night had more than a love of blue in common with the cop. At trial I had surmised that Brooks was showing off his sadism for the benefit of someone, most likely his buddy in the back seat, who, along with his partner in the front seat, had lied about Charlie’s beating and arrest. I know that neither could see what went on between Charlie and Brooks given their sight lines from the driver’s side of the patrol car. Yet testify they had!

Well anyway, Charlie never does call on Monday morning to let me know when he’ll arrive in Denver. So Monday night I call him back to find out the system had screwed the hippie in him once again. Apparently, his lawyer, after all this time wanted money. For himself! The City of Denver had offered a deal: settle for attorney’s fees, the city’s and Charlie’s, or risk winning nothing. Charlie’s lawyer, now divorced from Mary Lu’s sister, told Charlie that if he didn’t accept the deal, attorney’s fees without any compensation to the plaintiff, he’d drop him as a client and sue Charlie for payment of his fees, a situation Charlie couldn’t afford, given his alternative communal lifestyle. Besides, Charlie admitted he had not been able to scrape together airfare to come to Denver. Thus he took the deal, and everybody got paid, everybody except Charlie, a lamentable and simple sad truth.