|Bisbee Blue Turquoise|
Last year I read for the Phoenix Poetry Series with a very kind, unique and distinctive poet, Chris Dietz. He and I decided we'd assemble a reading in his hometown down in Bisbee, not only to promote my book, but to invite musicians and other poets to participate in the event, making it a mini-festival, all to be held at the historic Oliver House, rumored to be haunted. The Oliver House had originally been a mining house for mine workers. Very badly, I wanted to see a vision of a ghost, but I guess I'll have to reach for that one on my next trip there. Not even a rattling of chains, darn it. Because Bisbee is famous for being a town full of artistic types from potters to poets to painters, I had a feeling this was going to be a wild ride. And boy, was it ever.
But first, there deserves to be discussion of Chris and his wife, Tami. I didn't know these people, really. I'd met them for a couple of hours at a poetry gig in Phoenix half a year ago. I'm a lone wolf and I like to think I'm proud to be one. But it's lonely being a lone wolf, and don't let anyone tell you different. Chris and Tami generously and lovingly opened their home and hearts to me. Chris had prepared a tremendous delicious platter of seasoned chicken and rice, and Tami was pulling brain-reelingly aromatic spearmint from the front yard for me to take back home. Tami and I found a private moment for a toast to our new friendship, and wow, that vodka! From Poland, it had a piece of the long grass that the bison feed on inside the bottle. The sweetest vodka I've ever had the pleasure of tasting. And one shot will knock you off your feet.
Chris calls himself an ex-hippie. Their home is stuffed with every book you can think of. It's quite possible I have only one book out of every five they own. Chris has known all the beat poets, some having stayed in the very bedroom I slept in. Lawrence Ferlinghetti slept in that room. Gregory Corso slept there as well; he shot his heroin up in Chris and Tami's living room before he could make himself presentable for his reading. And then he downed a fifth of whiskey. That bedroom is like sleeping in Lincoln's bedroom at the White House, except the Dietz bedroom is exclusively poets' territory. I was honored.
I fell in love with Chris and Tami. I know we'll be friends for life. I have no way of thanking them for their tremendous kindness toward me and "But the Gentleman to my Right" except to offer my home, and my best efforts in friendship and loyalty in return. They are gentle and spirited, and opinionated and brave. They are tender and inquisitive and genuine. If you look out their kitchen window, to the right, you can see where Naco, Arizona ends and Rio Sonora Mexico begins. You can see Mexico from their kitchen. People in Bisbee don't lock their doors when they leave their homes. I love them.
***O Bisbee, Sweet Bisbee, Part II will reveal a packed Oliver House of Bisbee-ites, various photos of weird offbeat singularly Bisbee-type historic building stuff, secret culverts, one person in a gas mask, local poetic legends, a few remarks about "first" experiences for this poet, the dog, Flo, chewing on some kind of underclothing, didgeridoos, and a photo like this:
Note that the "We Also Honor" various credit cards placard is riddled with shotgun pellet holes. Despite that, for me, it's all about the pig. The pig rules.
Stay tuned for Part II.***