Saturday, April 17, 2021

Papa: A Poem and A Short Angry Review of A Doc




No one gets you, not really. How I suffer when I hear them argue.

I loved you when you woke in Paris

while Hadley slept and you washed the Bumby bottles

and afterwards, went down for the papers

then you wrote 

You taught me everything I know.

You raised me, word by word.

I listened carefully to your Zen description

of the elephant and the lion, the fish and the sea, the boxer and the bullfight.

How the old women went up the hill in the early morning

to drink the bravery and came down grey faced.

When Pilar washed her feet in the stream, I knew I’d come home.

You named your boat Pilar. Of course you did.


You were truly One.


Because of you,

I keep my baby picture on my windowsill

to remind me of my promise.

I cannot bear to hear lesser lights talk about him. I turn into a romantic hero who unsheathes his sword and cries out, “I will cut his name out of your foul mouth!” Complaining lesser lights, dim lights, alcoholic this, alcoholic that, whined Mary Karr. ("Who are these people and why would  care what they have to say about Hemingway?" my husband asked me as we watched the doc.) Write one true sentence and then you can speak about him! I remember one true sentence of Mary Karr's from The Liar's Club:“Jim’s dick was always rock hard!” She slammed her fist on the table as she spoke. I’m paraphrasing, so maybe I don't remember it.

After seeing Ken Burn’s and Lynn Novick’s documentary, “Hemingway,” I felt brutalized emotionally. That week, my daughter gifted me a book, a small yellow volume of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s remarks about drinking, called On Booze, and I, so very traumatized, carried this book with me for at least two days, cradled it to my bosom as a touchstone, you, Scotty, you understand.

I didn’t learn anything from the Burns doc that I hadn’t already known. But, I was absolutely appalled that Burns and Novick would abandon Hemingway as a doddering old damaged paranoid drunk when he complained and was terrified of possible FBI surveillance. True fans know that Hemingway was right about the FBI, but Burns does not mention what we now know and even Hemingway’s wife, Mary acknowledged, that yes, Hoover had a file on Hemingway for years, considered him a dangerous Communist sympathizer, surveilled him, followed him, wanted desperately to arrest him. ArrĂȘter, to stop. Here’s a good article about Hemingway and the FBI, thank you Salon, thank you David Masciotra!

I always love to watch a good doc about artists. I’m usually pretty content to bask in the glory for an hour or so, but I was very disappointed when this one skipped lightly over Hemingway’s Paris years with the artists and writers who made Paris, well, Paris! Come on! Let’s face it, what we feel about Paris began with Hemingway and his friends! I loved Sylvia Beach spreading the legend of Hemingway liberating Paris after WWII - great stuff! But, why didn’t Burns mention how Hemingway’s little boy, Bumby, called her Silver Beaches? Or that when they were poor, Hemingway washed the Bumby bottles while Hadley slept? Or that he always regretted divorcing Hadley? 

Why leave out any of the true, good stuff? 

©Patricia Goodwin, 2021

Patricia Goodwin is the author of When Two Women Die, about Marblehead legends and true crime and its sequel, Dreamwater, about the Salem witch trials and the vicious 11-year-old pirate Ned Low. Holy Days is her third novel, about the sexual, psychological seduction of Gloria Wisher and her subsequent transformation. Her latest novel is Low Flying, about two women suffering psychologically abusive marriages who find and nurture each other. Her newest poetry books are Telling Time By Apples, And Other Poems About Life On The Remnants of Olde Humphrey Farme, illustrated by the author, and Java Love: Poems of a Coffeehouse.

Within this blog, Patricia writes often about non-fiction subjects that inspire or disturb her, hopefully informing and inspiring people to be happy, healthy and free.