Our mind is awash with a flood of emotional responses to recent events and discoveries, mixed with wisps of memories, shreds of shared experiences, and the undifferentiated detritus of broken connections. Many of the most important of these have been destroyed, misplaced or, worst of all, lost to mortality. It’s too easy to get the dead mixed up with the living in this game, but we’ll try to avoid becoming too morbid or maladroit as we go forward.
One recent update highlighted the special place the name David has in our mind, and in the story of the slide show, as it lurches from that time to this. It’s gratifying that we can still be in touch with at least two of them. We can post photos of David Horton (and we will). We might also be able to find David Hiatt in a crowd or backgroud group in an image or two, and we sincerely hope so. His appearance in today’s list of donors begs that the story be told of our friendship with him, though all the credit for belongs to him. We offer it in testimony to our earlier embrace of the phrase “random acts of kindness” as a guiding principle for our humanity.
As with most of the stories here, the theme of art is never far from the surface; in this case, the artistic context is that of poetry. David Hiatt is, was, and will finish up as a poet. Our meeting was a stanza out of the daily living Market poem, and while it had slipped from our consciousness in the years since, he memorized it. When Facebook appeared and reunited us, he could recite it to us, moving us to shuffle and blush by it.
Poetry was everywhere in that time, because all of the conditions that give rise to poetry in any time and place were present. A society in turmoil, as characterized by a growing generation gap brought about by hypocrisy, mendacity, arrogance and avarice on a scale that, while modest by today’s standards, hadn’t yet been seen. Anyway that was the clear impression we had then. In fact, except for the role of television in bringing its exemplars into everyone’s living room, along with the scenes of growing resistance to it, coupled with the grisly body bags daily conveyed home from Saigon, It was business as usual, but that’s anther story.
Shortly before we left Idaho, and as a result of our unsought and undeserved new status as Idaho’s premier Vietnam War-resister in residence, we had begun to attract, and be attracted to, a whole new circle of friends, all of whom were more intellectually accomplished than we, a fact that took on considerable appeal as we struggled to learn new ways of study and understanding of a flood of new information pouring in on us from several directions at once.
One new friend was Charles Potts, the first man or woman we had met whose main preoccupation in life was to become a poet, and who already enjoyed a certain standing among his peers for a startling energy and insight that we found in his writing. We quickly became friends; he went to Mexico; we went to Seattle. Weeks later, after a short stop in Olympia to perform readings with poet friends he knew there, he came to test the Puget water for its poetry levels and found it to his taste.
Conspiracies to commit poetry were hatched daily; one of them was a series of readings Charlie called “Theodore Roethke Gladness Wakes”. Poets emerged from the woodwork to join the fun, and that’s just what it was. More about that later.
David Hiatt was one of the poets who appeared, carrying only his poems, which he read. The tale he told of our meeting years later, via Facebook, made us feel a lot better about ourself, even though we were never much inclined to linger in self-loathing for very long at a time. A sparkly object usually enabled us to shake it off. In any case, after the event was concluded, highlighted by Clair Oursler reading the product liner notes from a bottle of VA Douche Powder, socializing seemed much in order. That necessitated wine.
We’re only guessing at the specific details of it now, but this is how we suspect the story developed. David, like any poet worthy of the name, is a man of sterling character, We intuit that he was about to excuse himself on grounds that, because he had no money to chip in for wine, he was not entitled to drink with those who did. Of course the only riposte possible to that was “Bullshit!”. He stayed.
When the gathering dispersed later, we handed him a dollar bill (which still bought something in those times), tendering with the phrase learned from our father, “walking around money”. Then we forgot about it for the next forty-plus years, but David never did. Now, here we are, and among our other prized possessions, we’ve got the jpeg David sent, of the handbill for the “Love Arts Festival”, another event typical of the times, and held at the same Zig Zag Gallery and Pot Shop (about which more later).
Then today, after our goal here had already been met and surpassed, a pledge appeared with David’s name on it, and one of the most generous we had received. It caused us to frown in some dismay, to be honest. It occurred to us that If we repaid at once every handout, bailout, loan and gift given on spurious grounds (“..but…it’s not our birthday!”) at the same rate of interest, we would not be us. No, gentle reader, in fact we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all, because we would have serious money, and we wouldn’t have to ask for your help.