Coffee Shop Ruminations

I am sitting at a counter in a coffee shop with a dog-rescue theme. I can dig that.

Outside, at eight in the morning, light rain falls. I walked over here from my house and passed two homeless men. One was pushing a grocery cart full of possessions. I see this sight all the time but still can’t fathom how they do it, particularly during the winter in Western Oregon.

I came to the coffee shop to work on a short story that weaves in the legend of Steve Prefontaine. It’s for the forthcoming collection of short stories I hope to publish this spring or summer.

Yes, I want to write that story but it isn’t happening at the moment so I am looking out the window and writing what is coming to me.

Lots of dogs walk by. I grow closer by the day to adopting one.

Dad continues to rally at the assisted living center. It has freed me up somewhat to take some road trips, but where?

Speaking of assisted living, the newly convened House of Representatives’ majority party wants to enact drastic cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Two thirds of Medicaid spending goes toward paying for assisted living for the elderly poor. Medicare doesn’t cover assisted living. So in other words, if the Medicaid cuts become reality, private facilities will no longer be paid to house indigent seniors, many of whom subsist entirely on Social Security.

Republican policies = death to poor seniors. What a political party! But then again, many of those same indigent seniors will vote Republican over and over again and rail against socialism.

I recently read Ava Gardner’s autobiography, published in the late 80s, and it was fascinating. One of the more interesting anecdotes was her meeting the poet and classics scholar Robert Graves toward the end of his life, when she was one of the biggest starlets in the world, and having him write three poems about her and for her. Three! Imagine something like that happening today with a famous poet and a Hollywood star. I can’t. But I would read such poems.

I am considering taking the MAX train later this morning to downtown Portland to visit the Japanese American Oregon museum. The museum is located in Old Town, at Ground Zero of the city’s homeless crisis. If I visit the museum, I’ll have to visit the carnage, walk right through it. I don’t know if I am up for that.

Everyone is on their phones in here. I am typing on a 25-year old Alphasmart word processor.

I have yet to spot Gus, the old beaver of my local creek, again. I go to his tiny lodge a couple times a day…and nothing. I may never see him again.

Rain is falling harder outside. That trip downtown may be postponed. Or maybe that’s all the more reason to take it.

A thought occurs to me: are any prominent poets writing poems about the homeless. I have yet to come across one. I have written one but am not a prominent poet. I am thinking about this because I’ve been reading a biography and literary analysis of Emily Dickinson and she wrote several poems that alluded to the horror of the Civil War but they were all slant. Very slant.

Is slant the way for a poet to write about a crisis?