@ 27.055 MHz: Ad Astra; Days Of 1969-70, And Again In 1976

[after Constantine Cavafy's poem, "Days Of 1908"]


His long hair, cascading below his shoulders,

identified him, to your parents at least, as a

"hippie," a lazy good-for-nothing, and most

probably a communist or some other kind of

subversive.  They deemed him a hillbilly, too

(their prejudices, vigorously held and

vociferously expressed were directed toward this

labeled group, as well), because of his exquisite

skill in the repair of cars.  He flaunted their

standards of appearance as well:  on warm days,

shirtless; always clad in dirty, grease-stained

blue jeans, and charcoal gray socks (oh yes, 

always charcoal gray socks) and very conspicuously

(even militantly) shoeless.  You, and several of

your neighborhood peers, liked to park your bikes

under the shade of a tree across the street from

his parents' residences, to gaze at him (with no

silly inhibitions about staring, or loitering in

front of someone else's home) as he worked on

his own car, or that of some relative or friend

who had sought his assistance.  Sometimes, you

were able to watch him without the companionship of

others:  free of their chatter, and tin-shrill

music of the AM radios that most of you carried in

those days, you were able to concentrate your

entire and undivided attention upon him.  Your

thoughts about him, at that stage in your life,

imagined only what it might be like to be held,

safely and eagerly, in those strong arms; although,

more and more often that season, you wondered what

he might look like almost naked---with just his

socks on.  What might be done about that, or how it

might blossom into something more, was, as yet,

beyond your knowledge.  When he smiled at you (and

that was quite frequently), you felt your knee

joints temporarily buckle, with an accompanying

sensation in your groin (not like having to pee,

but somehow adjacent to that---you thought).  Eighteen

years old to your eleven, he knew that he was not

permitted to touch you, not even in the most

innocuous way (especially considered your parents, to

whom almost any gesture was, in some way, inappropriate).

Even then, you had already learned to despise them for

their adamant opinions and you silently cursed the

droll smuglies in your state's legislature whose laws

said that he must not love you, as it could only

result in statutory rape.


Even in a village like yours, in a rural township in

which seasons change like clothes, and prejudices

retain the hardened sturdiness of granite headstones,

some circumstances intervene.  Those were the Viet

Nam years; and you dreaded that possibility of the

draft taking him to be verbally battered by some

damned drill instructor, then murdered in a jungle

where the ultimate conclusion was already becoming

apparent.  But he was not summoned:  Neighbor Doris

mentioned something, at the bridge club one night,

about a suspicion of Homosexuality.  "But he can

"repair almost any car engine ever manufactured,"

your father exclaimed in candid disbelief.  "Homos

"have infiltrated everywhere," Neighbor Doris

suggested (and her assertions were commonly, back

then, believed to be authoritative).  Then, a

move away transpired:  his whole family---parents,

himself, and two younger brothers (both of them

almost as beautiful as he was)---quickly and

fully vanished, and the house stood empty for at

least three or four months.  "No one wants to

"live where a Homo has lived," Neighbor Doris

said, her confidant tone sounding very knowledgeable.


Less than a week after your eighteenth birthday, you

drove across the county to the vicinity's premiere

shopping mall to spend your grandmother's very

generous gift.  Leaning against a vintage, and rather

decrepit looking, vehicle, he seemed to be just

passing the time, perhaps waiting for someone.

His blue tee had already begun to accumulate the

grease and grime stains of car repair; his jeans, as

before, were already full of it; and no shoes confined

his feet, still sheathed in charcoal gray socks.

When his eyes met yours, and you knew you were

immediately recognized (quite a change for you,

having been mostly ignored in high school), you

felt the deluge of all the former feelings, now

raised to an exponential degree by the erotic

intimations that your adolescence (with a very

active curiosity and a surreptitious delight in the

kind of Poetry---Vergil's, Cavafy's---that numerous

authority figures had deemed "inappropriate")---had

revealed to you since that rather memorable summer

after seventh grade.  I think he knew, at that

moment, exactly how you felt; and, in that awareness,

your soul and his achieved that first connection.

Just a couple of hours later, in his bed, he---naked

except for his socks---bestowed upon you (and your

eagerly receptive sensual circlers; and your

pulse-bobbing tumescent pleasurer) delights that

were (and still are) wholly satisfactory to your

innate desires; and the e'lations of your sweetness

were almost simultaneous to his; and, in the

reassuring comfort of his embrace, your soul and his 

converged . . . .



Author's Notes/Comments: 

This is not fictive.  The person I am addressing, and his Beloved who waited for him, are very much real.

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patriciajj's picture

I wanted to comment on this

I wanted to comment on this earlier, but I needed to rest in order to give it the attention it deserves.


Flashes of Cavafy shimmer in this soft-sculpted adventure that captures the full persona of the Beloved, not just his appearance. He is the embodiment of peaceful dissent, fearless nonconformity and genuine kindness.


I would say that the strong undercurrent in this fulfilling, coming-of-age watershed moment is acceptance. The one being addressed (the second-person POV adds an important layer of intimacy and empathy here) finds much more than mind-blowing pleasure in the milestone event, but an awakening on a soul level. For the first time he gives himself permission to be who he is. This, it is implied, changes everything. This is the lifetime payoff for waiting, for defying societal norms that were brutally stringent like "the hardened sturdiness of granite headstones" in those days and for putting love above all else.


Written with engaging beauty, bravery and life-altering power. Well done!


S74rw4rd's picture

I am so very grateful for

I am so very grateful for your always accurate interpretations---and this one, especially, because this poem proceeds from fact and truth, rather than poetic fiction.  This whole series exists because of your encouragement; and your continuing comments validate my efforts, so that I may proceed forward.

And I am very, very glad you saw some flashes of Cavafy (to borrow your fine words).  That you mentioned him touches me at the deepest level.