Sunday, July 12, 2020

Sam Hammond

What a magical time - seeing Peter Hammond’s beloved son Sam - who drove in from Iowa in a van and whom you see here eating pierogi at Veselka. I first met Sam, now 21, when he was 3 months old, when I remember holding him in my arms. Peter then decamped to Iowa where Sam’s mom was from & where Sam grew up. But determined to give his son New York City, Peter brought him back to Manhattan and Brooklyn virtually every year from when Sam was about 3 yrs old to 14. It worked: his love for this city is now palpable. First time I’ve seen him since then. A golden soul like his father. So much laughter and love. Unforgettable evening.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Peter Hammond

I learned that one of my closest friends Peter Hammond killed himself - got word yesterday from his son, Sam. I just wrote this about him.


In Loving Homage to Peter Hammond

Guy Kettelhack, June 21, 2020


“On the Death of Dr. Robert Levit”
Samuel Johnson (final stanza)

Then with no throbbing fiery pain,
    No cold gradations of decay,
Death broke at once the vital chain,
    And freed his soul the nearest way.

Peter and Sam

Peter investigating what Sam described as
"a totem's open grave on the beach in San Francisco"


My friend Reed Woodhouse sent me the Samuel Johnson poem which features this final stanza when he heard from me that Peter Hammond (whom he’d met & liked enormously) had died. Reed cautioned me not to decide Dr Johnson’s outwardly cool tone had anything less in it than a whole human mind and feeling heart. But I readily felt its pulse, particularly in this final stanza.

“And freed his soul the nearest way” - why is “the nearest way” so satisfying and consoling a phrase? That in what had to have been for Peter an extremity beyond even the nth degree of death as the blunt finality we all of us will face - given his collusion in causing it (he ended his own life) - that somehow suicide opens up “the nearest way” as much as passively surrendering to the body giving out (why shouldn’t it?) - suggests to me that all final exits are blessed in their simplicity & completeness: all deliver us from evil.

The Brooklyn-born & in the last decades of his life transplanted Iowan Peter Hammond occasionally gently leaned on me in the last months of his life to keep writing to him - as I peck that out on my tiny iPhone keyboard I feel a sharply poignant ache of possibly having let him down. It was the voice of a child in anguish, seeking love from a source the child trusted. Something like a membrane of defense in me seems forever alternately to thicken toward opacity and to thin toward transparency; draws me near to, then pushes me away from outward connection — similar not seldom in Peter as well — but it never deadened me against “feeling with” him. On his brief returns to New York (always bringing his handsome smart chess-playing son Sam from toddlerhood through high school) it was such a delight always to see his face brighten to see me - shocked though I was at the idea that he saw something in me useful to help heal anything.

I spent a few hours today commencing to knit together from their hiding places in my laptop Peter’s and my correspondence over the years - mostly to give to his son Sam who I know will ‘get’ his father’s voice so very richly from it, and who has turned to me with such love - reflecting his father’s love for me. Well, it’s something, isn’t it, discovering one’s capacity to care is as vast as it can turn out to be. Ours was a vast shared caring.

Peter’s wife Brenda and Peter’s closest friends (two other men besides me) will convene with Sam in New York sometime  in July to cast Peter’s ashes into some body of water abutting or running through Brooklyn - the ocean? a canal? - presumably according to Peter’s wishes though (out of ignorance) I can’t quite imagine him expressing any of that sort. But I do immodestly & irrelevantly proclaim that the Hammond & Kettelhack backs-and-forths in our emails are marvelous. They pop with our enjoyment of one another. There were however long gaps in that correspondence - it sorrows me sharply to think that if I’d thrown a rope or flashed a light from my rowboat to him during the most recent dim-out it might have helped to keep him here.

What an astonishing sexy funny darkly deeply Irish creature he was - full of a fierce inimitable morality, a great proclivity for sudden gloom and wicked humor, and a compassion so deep and so efficaciously connected to his mission of helping the most down & out so-called Bowery “bums” - whom Peter knew to be people - that they actually WERE often lastingly helped. Peter himself had over the years become a registered nurse, a kickass guitar player, songwriter and singer in Iowan bands, a formidable poet, and an all-round ‘handyman’ during which tenure there didn’t seem to be a building or plumbing etc task to which he didn’t make himself equal. He’d taken courses in literature and writing at Hunter College finding at one point a particular devotion to Philip Roth (Portnoy’s Complaint) with whom he studied. He saved up to prod himself to travel through Europe and Latin America. He was hungry for it all. And unfailingly sensitive to every aspect of each skill he taught himself and mastered.

He was blind in one eye. Through his working eye he’d spotted me (he once reported) striding by 25 years ago on East 9th Street (from his Veselka breakfast window perch where he sat with whoever his intensely loved ladyfriend had been at the time; he’d known many) and reported that I glowed like an angel. In an email just three months ago he said one of my poems made him believe in language again. He made me believe in the miracle he was. I love him as much as I’ve loved or can imagine loving anyone in my life.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Overarching Intimations

Overarching Intimations are a Blast.
They promulgate a fantasy of Past.
I try to lock them up so they will last
but when I find they do,
I am aghast.
The myriad mistakes I make are vast.
All the plays I’ve staged have been miscast,
misbegotten plottings holding fast:
Again my failure proves
it’s unsurpassed.
I’ve never gone on a vacation,
nor won any recommendation.
Troubled, supine, unbubbled by wine
or elation. I win at these stakes:


Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Ichabod, vidded

Ichabod (who appeared a few yrs ago) never got vidded. He just let me know how left out that made him feel. So now he's got a bright new YouTube and you can almost detect a tiny bit more of a smile on his recalcitrant face as a result. At least I can.
Ichabod knew others found him odd. In fact, from their restricted
measure of the strange, he knew and understood the range of reasons
why they would. But Ichabod found only one thing odd. That no one
grasped the most overt phenomenon of all: that everything they saw
or smelled or felt or thought or touched or looked at was a miracle.
He’d sometimes grow satirical in livid diatribes he’d orate to himself,
imagining he’d change the lives of these unknowing tribes with itemized
accounts of evidence of all their mindless blindness. But no, there was
no laugh in that. It would be like naming all the evidence to Money
of the impotence of Money. Wasn’t funny. He didn’t want to rain on their
parades – or spoil the charades they took as living. He had no taste for
public strife. He liked instead to let his rife Imagination hop through all
he saw or smelled or felt or thought or touched or looked at like a bunny.  
A case might well be made, if ‘they’ were right that some Big Bang had
set our whole thing into flight, and therefore also had to be the genesis
of light, that life by definition was, and ever would be, sunny.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Answering a Robot

From: Guy Kettelhack
Date: May 26, 2020 at 4:40:47 PM EDT
To: Guy Kettelhack
Subject: Answering a Robot

This is fascinating. I have a packed profile full of more information than most such things on this site with lots of pics available which give you all but chapter & verse of numerous aspects from sexual to emotional to what I do creatively in contrast to you offering absolutely nothing beyond an inscrutable martin1320 all of which bears the clawmarks of robotic spam in which your next observation will almost certainly run along the lines of you looking for a meaningful relationship full of respect and affection and the assumption that this robotic attempt at seduction will break through my defenses against it & warm my heart & otherwise dupe me into thinking that maybe through almost religious experience I will have found in you & you will have found against insuperable odds on me the mate we have long yearned for and now miraculously have been granted the invitation to embrace so that we can rush across the country into each others’ arms and lives and enjoy a long and loving association which will afford us all the fulfillment of happiness we never dared imagine could be ours but now by a strange wonderful lightning bolt of nearly divine love promises to become exactly that gorgeous union which is made possible only to the purest and least selfish and most loving souls who have been granted the blessing of being able to recognize true love when it is offered and respond to the gift not only with open arms but with an open heart and a wide-ranging curious mind bent on making the inward journey both into ourselves and into each other which because of the purity of our intentions and the assiduity with which we each separately have been successful in plumbing our own depths and our own most secret yearnings has readied us at last for a meeting of body and soul in concert with the steadfast determination to make our joined love a testament to the power and joy open to those, such as we find ourselves to be, who have already made a thoroughgoing investigation of our deepest wants and desires which we now finally can begin to entertain might be turned to advantage, not just our own individual advantage, but with a mission using our love as a basis of reaching out to our communities to foster in those something of the capacity you and I will have found together to widen the hearts of strangers, to invite them to undergo the same introspective honest self-appraisals that you and I will clearly have demonstrated to each other are not only possible and necessary but full of the seeds of love which very rapidly and through our example can teach others to encourage a new irrepressible rush of growth of the capacity for such love which is inherent in every human heart and which we, through discourse of this sort, will use to engage every new soul with whom we inevitably will add to our embrace. I feel I have only touched on what needs to be said but which by now surely has convinced both of us to carry on our shared mission to aid and abet any obfuscatory mind so that we might enter with them yet new realms of understanding. Please feel free to pass this on to anyone whom you think suitable for this mission.
I expect you to write me just as voluminously as I have just done and am indeed sure that the prospect of connecting verbally and intellectually and emotionally with stories and evidence of the growth of both spiritual and sexual and intellectual and existential and less articulable exigencies and velleities as well as those perhaps occasionally intransigent blocks to understanding and/or other resistances to those occasions of consciousness and of assessing them that have defeated finer and more patient minds even than what we can more than suppose are the prodigiously capacious phenomena of our own collective intellectual fortitudes and desires to breach gaps beyond which may lie in however distantly approachable incarnate form those prospects and promises of future endeavors requiring concentration of a new order of intensity while requiting our ferocious appetites for the experience of such requisite and as yet unknown ideals and ideational creations of such complexity and intricately esthetic appeal as we daren’t even begin to imagine we could with our untested capacities to apprehend what will surely at first seem to us to be such nth degree extremities of super subtle answers in forms of response currently far beyond our untried and indeed so far unsuspected means of apprehending their articulation beyond which however our eternallly ever-actualizing potential to grow as it were to a size albeit not literally measurable since it occurs in dimensions which our incarnate senses are helpless to detect but which through new ranges of apperception to which in fact we do have accesss we can at least as it were sidle up as if we hadn’t the least notion we were doing so to begin through an oblique angle exert a kind of consciousness of what we must now be reduced to calling ‘essence’ in our inevitably jejeune attempts to conceive of an ultimate generator of existence sometimes fallaciously thought of as divine but will as we persist in the obliquely approached vicissitudes of this unexampled manner of applying Consciousness to the strands and amplitudes of what we naively until now believed to be reality turns out to be a sort of exoskeleton of an apparatus of creation than which there is no better source of what might be called the butter of our dreams and our thoughts and our love which throughout all of our arcane exhibatorial explorations we shall find still luxuriantly on every surface of our material immateriality. This I think we must agree is the answer to the great question we will have had no inkling we were asking - that single maddening three letter word we will have until this moment of revelation not understood could ever be posited without appending to it the open-ended punctuational symbol of a question mark but which at this deep point of understanding we now know to be an unnecessary adornment to the entire autonomy of its perfection as the only directive we need ever consult, that until now peskily elusive invitation to infinity: the three letter word we know as why.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Covid19 Court Sentence

Covid19 Court Sentence
A swab got poked up my nose, I said Ow!
Some blood drawn and taken away,
No evidence I have the virus now
and no record of its prior stay.
News I report to counter the fears
of friends who assumed I would sicken.
But don’t stop assuming the worst, my dears,
We learn more about love when it’s stricken.


Thursday, May 7, 2020

On Becoming 69

Every birthday is Earth day, a Mirth Day! –
A Let Them Eat Cake but be Mindful of Girth day!
A yowza reminder of Everyone’s Worth Day!
A jeezus! I wish I could spend it in Perth day!
At last I’ve decided it’s fine
To reveal to the masses I’m now sixty-nine,
And with luck from the gods in the heavenly
realms and the ones down below that bedevil me --
who knows, I might live to be seventy. But ach! I’m
now surely prey to the terrible crime
of my having committed an inexact rhyme.
But you know what? Tuff noogies!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Unconsidered Chaos



Unconsidered Chaos
for John-Frederick Williams
Unconsidered chaos likes to make a bliss
of mess, exposing all its unsuspected charm.
Although it’s true in my first take on this,
the claim repelled, a cause more for alarm
than praise, a trope equivalently visual for fart –
squalid and contemptuous – bad Dada.
At first I labored to elaborate against its “art” –
until a fire rose in me, an uprising, an intifada
countering the truer source of my disgust,
the festering idea that polished surfaces,
eradications of the very thought of dust,
amount to shoring up the stifling  purposes
against which my most precious vision warred;
the seeming random ease of Sargent’s paint
had led me long past it to know what I adored:
outlying provinces of funk and sweat that taint
the soul to give it interest. But what a bore
when I implore my kitchen to appeal esthetically.
I need to throw the trash out, sweep the floor.
Then I can lavishly hold forth I live heretically.
One fights to keep an iridescent vision of oneself
that will entice, sequestered safe in Shadowland,
retrievable on cue, to make believable the fiction
that the shelf one lives upon is paradise.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Pork Rinds

In furtive rhythms of uneasy breezes,
an abandoned shiny bag once filled with
fried pork rinds now flutters, drags in little
seizures down the schisms of a sidewalk.
Shuttered, locked up tight as any vault,
New York’s gestalt has stuttered to a halt.
I’ve bought and liked that snack of crispy
salted pig fat. Now I’m queasy at the thought.
I dream they virally attack: they kill. Not like
New York would care. It wouldn’t. But now
it wouldn’t care because it couldn’t. I sit
for days convinced the city’s not just still.
It’s no longer there.