Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ovid on a Bicycle

Changes of Shape
I'm now beginning my second month as poet-in-residence at Tent City 3 in Seattle, WA---Tent City 3, tactic 2, one more try. I've decided to find a stationary bicycle, select a collection of poetry and read it all while riding in camp. What why? To stay warm.. to build strength.. for my health.. because I got sick four times last month.. for the positive turn.. because I have to do something..? Anyway, something! Perhaps a few fewer stresses, a bit more sleep and a spin on the old bicycle will do it. And so, like any good search, this one began at the Goodwill. I do so love the Goodwill. I spotted an elliptical trainer in the furniture aisle and a recumbent cardio-machine in the lawn care section, but no stationary bike. I'll have to look online. Then I wandered into the poetry section and out jumped Ovid (43 BC-18 AD). Hahah! That musty, old, yellowing, 99-cent, mass market mythster! For under a dollar, he said, he'd give me all the myth I could take, along with a few heroes (which we desperately need at Tent City), some drama (we have enough of that) and a whole lot of passion. Promises, promises!! Upon reading that Augustus, the first emperor of Rome, had banished Ovid in 8AD for corrupting the youth of Rome, I began to take him more seriously. In fact, he sounded like he might understand life here at our Tent City. I bought Ovid's Metamorphoses, a collection of ancient Greco-Roman myths featuring the lives and loves of the gods, translated by Horace Gregory, 1958.

Second Time Around
After the big push for the gallery show and the fabulous Tether opening, I slept for a day and then took two more days off. While I was away, I worked on a plan, a new plan, a way to go back. If I'm going to stay at TC3 through the Meadowbrook tour, 24 February, something needs to change. I haven't wrapped myself around this project, this thing, this city I'm in, at least not in a definable way. I need a plan. I don't want to waffle any more. I want to do something. Make progress. But how and where and why? And what? I spent my time away thinking about it. By day two, I had a plan. It was based on three crucial bits of information: (1) The only thing I can control is me, (2) the only one I can transform is me and (3) metamorphoses is what I need. Again and again, it's me and change. Ahhh.

Banish Me
Me. Seattle. Ovid. Albania. Tent City. What does it matter? It's a disgrace and a shame for us all. Either way, we lose. No distance, no amount of praise, will win us back into the light of day, into harmony. Let's just apologize and get on with on. Let's solve the problem from within and grow from it. Let's sit in the seat of it and turn the pedals. Pedal right up that hill. Can you see us pedaling? Each time we move an inch, one degree in fahrenheit  rises. You can't see change in a day. Give it a month, a year, a decade. Give it a push. We'll crest the hill eventually, we promise. Put an endpoint in sight.

Name Plates
All the tents in camp have names, written on paper plates and attached with a paper clip or duct tape, so you can find someone when you need them. There is a map that constantly needed updating. The bunk houses are named after hotels, The Desert Sands and The Palms. Single and couples tents are named by the people who move into them. There's a tent in camp called "Second Time Around," a good name for a hard luck home, hopeful and honest.

1 comment:

  1. I am at home pedaling my stationary bike to heal a sore knee. Solidarity!