In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

211 Water Song The Pacific Northwest, September 1999 Portland-on-Columbia Pacific waves pound clean Though they’re pike-gray, opaque And corrugated tough Ceramic glazed, and baked A patina of green The town’s like that. Wrought iron painted prime Colonialish stuff Built on lave, not lime The tints of dings and dents . . . These water songs, which he’d been working on lovingly and secretly now for a year, were work for the soul, Dennis decided, because they were entirely against his nature, just as clueless Danny had said. As a teacher-priest, he had no problem composing homilies and lectures and letters and papers. But the water song was made of lyric, short stanzas of light rhymes more successful as music than meaning. He liked the discipline of their construction. He liked discipline, after a lifetime of foregoing it. Jimmy was not disciplined. Jimmy was sloppy. Even in those days after they’d first met, after Rigo’s big rooftop party, Dennis had patiently held Jimmy’s hand, reminded him of his visits to Sue-Zoe, taken him to the clinic, all of which he did because he knew there would be resolution, eventually. But as Jimmy’s cheeks became roseate, his demeanor became more irritating, as if more t-cells gave him more of an attitude. After the episode in Minnesota, it seemed as if he’d let go of Jimmy’s friendship too, which was just as well. So it came as a surprise when Jimmy suddenly called in May, hey-hey-long-time-no-see. He was doing a series of articles on the religions of the Bay Area and wanted to talk to Dennis about the Jesuits. Dennis met him in San Francisco. The city was now full of U-Hauls, reverse Joads fleeing California. Dumpsters were full of things too heavy to carry back east. Jimmy and Dennis met for a long lunch and it was more of a blab session than an interview, with Jimmy’s handheld tape recorder catching every cappuccino reorder and the piped-in music. They talked about this and that, and Jimmy did ask what it was like being a gay man in a church that condemned the homosexual act. 212 213 Of course it was difficult, Dennis admitted, and he hoped to create change from within, but for the time being, he had taken the vow of celibacy and he was sticking to it. The interview went off after that, the kind of meeting two former juvenile delinquents would have at a ten-year reunion, one gone straight and the other still a smart aleck. Jimmy said, “So you’ve been born again.” “No, I am not born again. I’m Catholic.” “Of all the things,” Jimmy sighed after he said, “Oh, pishaw” and waved him away like a bad odor, “couldn’t you have been born again in some creative way? What about, say, reliving young love?” Jimmy went on and on. He’d felt unentitled, he said, to love or even have sex since he tested positive, but now things were changing. Looking at Jimmy, Dennis thought he saw somebody who had been born again, himself. Or had gone after some kind of purity, the way fundamentalists of any sort went after it. Jimmy looked self-satisfied, con- fident, arrogant, sexy, a card-carrying member of the know-nothing party. Was he coming on to Dennis? Was this some kind of test of his celibacy? An attempt to convert him? Dennis couldn’t stop watching Jimmy drum his fingers on the counter before the tape recorder . There’d be that sound on the tape, no doubt of battle drums, when he played it back to himself. It would probably drown out their voices, no accurate quotes available. “You feel born again, don’t you, Jimmy?” Dennis finally said it after the stalemate—one created not by awkward lacks but from sheer gusto: Jimmy did not drink his cappuccino, he dedicated it to gods of pleasure with each sip. “Oh, Dennis, I do! It’s like It’s a Wonderful Life!” It was Dennis’s turn to fan away the bad odor. It’s a Wonderful Life, my ass! He didn’t believe people really changed, but circumstances (like, say, living fifty percent longer than expected) could bring out features in a man that were heretofore unseen. Dennis said, “And you’re in love.” Jimmy shook his head, but not sadly. “No...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.