Wednesday Mar 29

PettitMichael Michael Pettit’s most recent book is Riding for the Brand; a new work of nonfiction on New Mexico traditional arts is forthcoming this fall. He lives in Santa Fe.  He has been a professor of English and also directed the Mount Holyoke Writers Conference, the Santa Fe Writers Conference, and was co-founder of the National Association of Writing Conferences. A National Endowment for the Arts fellowship winner, Pettit's previous books include The Writing Path, American Light, and Cardinal Points, which received the Iowa Poetry Prize.  His web site can be found here.

Virtual Watson

How can you say it's not he though only
e-lec-tron-ics, and from a long distance?
Isn't it his heart and soul somewhere there
beyond the monitor, telephone wires,
keyboard he sits clicking? Virtual life,
virtual person, virtual Watson
with his toes wiggling in his old shoes
and his two-day stubble and his yearning?
You need to believe he's there, so empty
he's reaching out over the internet:
[email protected] Come in?
Come in come in come in, like some old ham
radio operator in his garage
fucking up his neighbors' TV signal.
It's been like this for years. Ages. Eons.
Always distance, always interference.
What Watson wants is a girl in New York,
her virtual breasts above her keyboard,
her face blue-gray in the monitor light.
Watson would rather have a paper doll
to call his own than a fickle-minded
real live girl, with her stubble and yearning.
Who wouldn't? But who's there inventing this
virtual pain, virtual dream of love?

Koyyanisqatsi Watson

Some days Watson feels accelerated,
mutable, like those time-lapse photographs
of cloudforms racing across the desert,
cumulonimbus and their fat shadows
roiling in air, over mesas below.
Or a peony breaking into bloom.
Or cancer killing an unwilling host,
lovers going south, all manner of flux
bad, good, neutral. Who could hope to keep up?
Only now can he look back in wonder
at those outlaw years he spent on the run,
one calamity after another
chasing him all over the planet, whoosh
all that bystanders got of him passing
into his next incarnation, Watson
the perpetual work-in-progress and…

Hemicenturian Watson

His mama in Mississippi says
Glad you made it! And calls come from old pals
across the continent—Can’t believe it!
or beyond the grave: father, brother, friend.
His lover takes him in her arms, thankful
for each difficult decade, all the scars
outer and inner, all the heroics
false and true—here’s her Watson, still with us.
Who would have figured, least of all him,
he'd arrive into the sweet, forgiving
light of this evening? And who would complain
of sunset, its breezes and clarity?
Not Watson, not yet divine but willing
to accept divine grace with grace: Amen.