What ever am I doing, William Yeats? Wallace Stevens would have approved. Yesterday the board I serve on had a benefit reading for our Poetry Gratitude Award. We love to honor poets or organizations who have done many good deeds. Grassroots which Michelle Holland says is another word for penniless.
I got to pass on the happiness wisdom I had gained through arduous hours of research watching PBS and Oprah. I learned that a club which makes you show up once a month can increase your happiness as much a doubling your salary. I find that deeply hard to believe but it was on Oprah, and I take notes. And to digress only the tiniest amount, O Magazine had four pages of Mary Oliver and Four pages on WS Merwin this month, plus many pages from Oprh's diary. Anyhow, if your neighbor is happy it increases your happiness by 37% and if you do a good deed your endorphins increase. If you watch someone else do a good deed they increase also. So I watch Oprah and when she gives away massive gifts, I grow younger. By the time our reading was over and the ABQ UNIDOS Youth Slam Team blew them away, everybody was 49% happier. And we have book sales to prove it.
I felt so happy that we ran into Española, well actually Mike drove in, and bought some really great postage stamps. I always ask for the pretty ones and we had a choice between Ronald Reagan and Carmen Miranda with a pineapple and banana on her head. Life is pretty darn simple when given a choice like that. Then we wanted to take a walk and I wanted to show Mike the sacred golf course paths below Black Mesa the golf course of Santa Clara, my home pueblo. In New Mexico many anglos have pueblos where they feel connected. Not only do I have a few friends there, but I taught poetry for four years at the Day School, village based schools, and the kids there still call me Joanie Baloney which I find endearing.
So we walked the dirt paths,where I usually hike with Camilla and her chihuahua, Sammy. Sammy sometime dresses in a remodeled sock. He is the latest in recycled fashion. In my mind the golf course is between the sacred and the profane, holy because my parents were religious golfers, and profane for the water they take in a desert clime. The ones I can name, Black Mesa, Buffalo Thunder, Los Alamos, Santa Fe Country Club, and the one, Marty somebody, where our brother-in-law played. A cool thing that I learned from the elders of Santa Clara that they played a stick ball game called "shinny," not too far from golf. They matched olds men against women or married against unmarrieds.
As we cut across Mike picked p what I thought was a small ostrich egg from the cholla cactus ridden land. It was a sacred object, a golf ball. As I picked through the grasses and prickly pear, he gathered call after ball. Now Camilla and I often see pot shard. She is a potter and has a keen eye, and she picks them up, admires them, places them in the earth with a prayer. Never takes one. Mike is collecting an entire plastic bag full, one must have blown miraculously into his outstretched hand. He gets enough to hit a bucket,an activity my parents partook in. I mean, in which my parents partook.
So, I look at my life lately, as I have been Poet Laureate now for nine months, a pregnancy of sorts.
This week two of my own books birthed into my hands. All the tiny events, driving to ABQ to read for five minutes, intros of Arthue Sze, Luis Lopez, Annie Lamott, and coming up Mary Oishi, great and local, WS Merwin who luckily I just read about in Oprah magazine, and who is also US POet Laureate.
I wonder if possibly it has made him as happy as it has made me. And if he is, will my happiness increase by being near him, or will his happiness increase because I am so happy. One could only hope.
I have done many tiny things in these nine months, but I have done them with great joy. The confetti I mention in the title. I so hope they have increased the half life of poetry. That we are the joy brigade and the true believers and tellers. I am banking my joy for old age, I hope I can find the deposit slip.
I hope that the confetti isn't all, that it brings rain down, grows food, increases literacy, and in good taste. That it folds cranes to raise money in Japan as I saw on Facebook. Anyhow, I have to write a few more intros and then I can go fondle my new books.
If you wonder why I mention Yeats and Wallace Stevens to start this piece, obviously, Yeats was Irish where the grass is very green, and Wallace Stevens was a golfer. In fact my favorite story was when he died and the obituary listed him as a great American poet, a golf friend famously said, "Wally, a Poet?"