Robert Sward



  He’s a deepener, he gives substance
to issues under view.

    — Michael McClure.

1. Santa Cruz to Oakland

“I have an appointment with light,”
said Anthony Holdsworth
arriving to paint Jack’s portrait.
I too have an appointment,
but, listening—Foley on cassette—

  multiculturalism is the idea of multiplicity
applied to the social sphere….
manifold, many folds, the overlapping
of many fibres, each qualifying the other,
each creating a condition of
‘hidden relevancies…’

I make a wrong turn,
instead of Alameda,
                         miss the Coliseum,
miss High, then Fruitvale…

Pay the toll, cross the Oakland Bay Bridge,
return via Treasure Island.

  ’Double’ and ‘doubt,’ ‘double’ and ‘doubt.’
To ‘doubt’ something is to think ‘two’ ways
about it.

“Look at you, you have no sense of direction,
your mind—what you call your mind—
is a cacophony of voices,” says one of those voices.
“Truth is, there’s no there there,
and there’s no here here either.”

How to proceed? I’m fucking lost.
Moment of panic.
Old two-door Honda pushing 65,
everyone else going 80.
Surviving is surviving to see my friend.
All I want in life by now
is to see my friend.

  ‘Individual’ means ‘not divided.’
I’m divided, but it’s a good thing.

I’m divided too, but I’m not sure
it’s a good thing.

I head south past the Coast Guard Station,
past Broadway, Lake Merritt in the rear view mirror,
the Hall of Justice, the Oakland Museum,
14th Avenue, 22nd…

Ten minutes from Jack’s house
I ease in a new tape—

  O what a, O water; the hum
of multitudes, the home of multitudes,
the hymn, the ham, the him
            of multitudes…

Here’s Fruitvale again,
here’s High.
Make the turn, make another.
There it is, stucco and brick
on a quiet corner,
bird of paradise,
orange poppies
             Jack on the doorstep,
his dark-rimmed glasses
and the longish hair,
“eyes full of interest,
some inward thing made manifest,”
               (his words, his words
                                                    and my words) friend.
“A bright passageway,
a haven for light,”
he calls Oakland,
“a haven for me.”

“So how was the trip?” he asks.

“No problem, Jack. No problem at all.”

               —Robert Sward