One Hand Clapping Installment 4

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Read from installment 1 click here PDF download available :  click here      Chapter 5   (Evening, Boeing Field, Seattle, WA.)   We approached Seattle after sunset. A few clouds hung over the jumbled white mass of the Olympic Range across the Sound. The lights of the city were on, but you could still make out the details of the buildings, the people on the street and the landscape in the dusk. The clouds over the Olympics turned orange and illuminated the water as we circled north, across the city and settled below downtown into Boeing Field. The whine of the helicopter’s turbines wound down as we taxied, hovered, over the tarmac toward the south terminal.  A Boeing landing is always a treat. The field sits just below downtown Seattle.  The city lies right there, dropped on the edge of the improbably blue Puget Sound.  Across the water, the Olympic’s.   On the mainland side, even taller mountains rise, individual Cascade volcanoes.  Rainier, Baker, St. Helens.  All rising singularly from rolling foothills.  The Sound never looks better than landing at its edge. That night Baker and Rainier rose dark at their foot and the summits fully lit in a pink alpen glow. After loading my single duffel into the limousine and seating me, the driver slid open the divider and asked, “Mr. Rico wishes to know if Lenore’s would be all right for dinner?” “That will be fine.” “Excellent.” The driver slid the partition closed and returned to his driving until we reached the unassuming storefront restaurant on the south edge of downtown. Stopping in front, he stepped around to the curbside of the limo to let me out. “Mr. Rico mentioned you were staying at the Paramount. Would you like me to drop your bag off for you?” “That…

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One Hand Clapping Installment 3

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Read from installment 1 click here PDF download available :  click here   Chapter 3   I walked out of the office, passing John leaning against the wall in his chair. “He’s a live one.  We’ll need a couple of beers.” Behind the bar, I pulled and opened a couple of Pacificos, grabbed a lime for each and headed back to the hall. John took the beer from my hand, squeezed the lime into the neck. “So, what’s up?” “Dean’s number is a Langley number.” “So?” “Langley’s CIA.  The CIA’s charter specifically prohibits domestic ops.  I’d say Hood River is definitely a domestic operation.  Remember the fallout when Nixon used a bunch of agency bagmen?  The Watergate deal. Big no-no for those guys.  This sort of stuff is DEA and FBI territory.” “Anderson told you this?” “No, Anderson was out.  I made a call to a guy I worked with and got a quick read on Anderson.  Nothing on our buddy Dean.” “What’s this old number shit?  I didn’t know you worked for those guys.” “I didn’t really.  When I was in Nam and then after, in a couple of deals, I was working with them, but not for them.  Sort of joint projects.  I was what they now refer to as a contractor. After I quit and before I moved to Breckenridge, I did one last hard gig in ’75.  They had four guys up in the Highlands, in the Golden Triangle, who’d been working with the Hmungs in their poppy growing and weapons training. “Everything intertwined back then.  Hmungs grew poppies with the Agency’s help and advice.  Air America, flew the paste to a lab in Hong Kong.  The cash from the paste and then the China White bought weapons back in and paid folks off-the books. We…

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One Hand Clapping Installment 2

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Read from installment 1 click here PDF download available :  click here   Chapter 2             (Hood River, Oregon)   Later that morning, Carole left for home, for Chicago.  After dropping her off at PDX, I drove the 65 miles back up the Gorge to Hood River mulling over Joey’s call. The sun burned through the early morning clouds and the day promised to warm considerably.  The first true warm spring day.  A day for shorts and T’s with a fuzzy top to break the early chill. Massive ice age floods carved the Gorge only a few thousand years ago. In a couple days, the equivalent of one and a half times today’s North American rivers funneled through the Gorge, a narrow mountain gap in the Cascade Range.  With walls now rising some 4000 feet in places, the days are an endless joy of shape and change, light and dark. Twenty years ago, I’d taken my part of the biz and bought a dive bar in Breckenridge, Colorado.  With the gentrification of the town, the loss of the true ski bum to the entrepreneur seeking business opportunity, I’d sold.  And did very OK. After a couple months of traveling, I found Hood River on the dryer end of the Columbia River Gorge.  For over 100 years the valley produced fine apples and pears.  In the early 80’s, the tales of wild summer winds started leaking out to the windsurfing world.  To the east, the Great Basin desert bakes in the summer, often creating a 50-degree differential with the ocean beaches only 200 miles away.  In an effort to equalize, the cool maritime air rushes toward the hot air.  All summer the winds blow 40 or better.  The influx of sailors built to a torrent.  Hood River became the summer windsurfing…

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One Hand Clapping Installment 1

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PDF download available :  click here   One Hand Clapping             a novel         T. Keith Liggett       “They say you should not suffer through the past.  You should be able to wear it like a loose garment, take it off and let it drop.” Eve Jessye Born January 20, 1895                     (May 1970, Mekong River Delta, Viet Nam.)   I’d been out too long.  The sun hit the edge of the paddy next to me. I was sprinting.  On the dike.  Half crouched.  Abruptly, I was thrown back and twisted to the right.  Then something else grabbed my hip, twisting me back, folding me in half, around to the left. I heard the shots after I was hit in the hip.  A short thumping burst from a heavy AK.  I remember thinking, “At least the guys at the perimeter will come looking for what’s left.”  Then I hit the water.  Warm.  Like a womb.  Surrounding.  I lay on my right side and half on my stomach, twisted into the water and the dark mud and soft green stalks of the rice.  I felt for my Browning and couldn’t find it.  I tried to crawl, but my legs wouldn’t work and only my left arm moved.  I knew I was bleeding.  I was getting weaker.  Fast.  The pain began. First dull, then coming as sharp bursting stabs.   I started falling in and out.  I came in and heard some guys talking.  Sing song talking.  Talking Viet.  They were laughing, too.  Boasting.  They finally got the Night Man. I went out. I came in again.  Flying.  Soaring. I was back in Colorado, Aspen, moving over the Highlands and into Maroon Creek towards the Bells.  It was fall.  The aspens stood full spent…

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The Wonder

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Late last night I sent an email with three attached poems to three friends. As with so many writers, I have a small group of peers I pass on words for critique. An approaching lit journal deadline (two days) prompted the email and I hastily decided to submit a batch of three connected poems. The email (with attachments) asked for comments on the poems, the order and any other thoughts. One email. Three attachments. Sent without thinking. A click of the send button. Gone. Off. Even later last night, I received the first response. “Sand in my toes, listening to Mexican music and waves on the beach. . “ Three recipients to a single email. And I thought about the distance. And time. One recipient will be ensconced in 901 Fernie, comfortable condos in the re-purposed old school in the middle of town. Another recipient is visiting family in London (the original in England) and the last (first to answer) is lolling around on the beach in Mexico. 20 years ago this sort of effort would have involved separate letters to three very dispersed locations. Copies. Envelopes. A trip to the post office. Waiting in line and buying a bunch of foreign postage stamps. A week to get there and a week to get back, assuming good weeks on both ends. Today, push send and it’s literally there. The first reply dropped into my in-box less than two hours after sending the original email. Written on an iPhone. Pina Colada in one hand. Warm sand between the toes. The soft hiss of waves breaking on the beach. The wonder of it all.

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Fernie is Back

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We’re back. These are the Fernie ski days we live for. When I left my house Thursday morning a few cms covered the walkway. At the end of the day, fresh snow broke my boot tops. On the hill every run was new tracks knee deep. And light. And there was no one. No one. Ski, Ride up. Ski. Ride up. Repeat until the legs give out. Let’s go here. Let’s go there. Let’s just go. This is the Fernie we love. Yahoo. Let ‘er rip.

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A New Year

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My Year starts with the opening of the ski hill, not with an artificial, overblown and facile celebration on December 31. There’s a simple unexplainable joy in those first 20 feet sliding down the ramp at the end of the first ride. There’s a freedom. A whole new world opens in that single moment and becomes real. Tangible. A fundamental shift in the world. We are skiing. And underneath it all is the question, the nagging doubt, Do I remember how to turn? How much have I lost over the summer? As with most of our fears, the answer is, Get over it. You’re just fine. At the top of the Bear I ran into a gathering gang. As we stood talking, the group became larger as one person then another joined off the Bear. The consensus was Cedar Bowl. As they skated off, I ducked into Lizard. They’d been up since the first chair. I’d just arrived and irrationally believed I’d forgotten how to turn. A couple runs down the edges of Arrow and Cascade and I was telling myself, Get over it. You’re just fine. Stupid me. Life is good. It’s a New Year and anything can happen.

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tailored

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a poem for a snowy spring day. tailored old gnarled carrying the shape of an orchard apple tree the mountain ash across the street stretches spreads naked berries exposed then this morning in lieu of spring leaves the ash accepts a suit standing still as piles grow on the branches hiding the berries and burying it’s feet wrapped in the whole cloth of winter from socks in the dryer (Salmonberry Press, 2013)

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The Poet Trims a House

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When I’ve find myself wondering what am I doing? When it seems like I’m spinning my wheels writing, I seek for immediate tangible daily gratification. Something concrete. Do it. Look at it. Be done with it. Hard work is good. Physical work is good. Physical work with a mental component is even better. Most of this non-writing work is carpentry. At the end of the day, you stand back, look at job that is visibly further along. Real measures exist. The living room windows are trimmed out. The bedroom doors are hung. The floor in the hall is finished. Recently I trimmed out a house in a traditional manner. The owner wanted the finish to reflect the old school craftsmen manner and quality. In that way, it was a traditional trim job. We installed all the wood from the walls out. Trimmed the windows. Laid the floor. Hung the doors. He wanted no end grain showing, so every piece of wood was cut at a 45 on the end and another matching, short 45 piece was slid in to finish the end into the wall. The grain, the stain, all had to match so as to be un-noticeable. Each finished window required the cutting and fitting of 23 pieces. From the extension jambs bringing the window casing out to the plane of the wall to the crown molding running across the head, each piece required thought, precision and care. And now that I think about it, the project was as mental as it was physical. Each piece became a mental challenge as well as a physical challenge. After the windows, we laid the floor. The flooring was re-sawn four by six larch beams re-sawn, then run through a molder to shape into tongue and groove. The beams weathered heavily before…

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