Some backstory for my main story: In 1996, it apparently was (I thought it was maybe a bit later), I went to a book signing in Portland by Kevin Canty, for his new book, Into the Great Wide Open. I must have read about it in the paper or something, it's not like I usually went to signings. I was totally captured by the passages he read, so I bought a copy of the book, even though I was a poor student, and had it signed. I loved the book and it influenced me a lot over the next couple of years. In one of my college classes, I even wrote a poem based on the book. I also gathered my nerves and sent a copy of the poem to Kevin Canty. He never replied though, which I still thought about over the years, wondering why he didn't reply, or whether he even got the letter.
Fast forward to last Friday: It was the first day of the Crossing Border festival and Kevin was going to be appearing for a reading. I'd seen him listed in the program and thought it was too bad he wasn't appearing on the day I'd be at the fest. But then I got an email from someone I know who was also going to be seeing the Decemberists on Saturday, she was saying that she was excited because her friend Kevin Canty was at the fest and she was heading to meet up with him. I wrote an email to her explaining the story above and then on Saturday night, I ended up being introduced to Kevin. I didn't tell him how much his book stuck with me, or ask him about the poem I sent or anything. A couple of days later though: he added me as a friend on Facebook. Ack! It was just so bizarre. So I had no choice but to send him the poem. I did, and he said he enjoyed it. Before anyone asks, here it is:Kenny, with Blue Lips
The envelope of nudes snuck out,
Uncamoflaged soldiers marching before your eyes
Turned by my uncontrolled hand, doubt
Tensing my shoulder you touched in the October moon.
At the canal, pregnant gray of early winter
Seeped into us as my worm of a scar
Wiggled out, stopped by your icicle finger,
Leaving a "ssshh" mark still felt in June.
My camera captured that day, your lips
So blue even in black and white, a stolen
Sideshot of a living corpse.
I later exposed you in the silent darkroom,
The orange light like the lamps at dinner that night
Melting the blue out of you, the secrets staying behind.
So, there, 12 years later, the author of the book I based the poem on finally, definitely saw the poem. It's just so weird, kind of like meeting Damien Jurado recently who my friend knows and played with, and thinking back to seeing him play ages ago in a long-dead all-ages club in Portland, only knowing his name at the time, and calculating that it must have been around that time that my friend was recording with him, and now here we all were coming together on another continent. It's mad, life.
It turns out that Colin Meloy was indeed in a class of Kevin Canty's in the writing program at the University of Montana, though Kevin doesn't remember Colin. But he enjoyed the Decemberists's gig at Crossing Border, as did, I think, everyone else there.