Some Works by Kim Stafford
Listen to Kim Stafford read “The First Time,” an excerpt from his memoir,
100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do (Trinity University Press, 2012).
U. of Oh!
I was seventeen. There was a war.
Riots in our cities. Because monks burned
and children starved we had to learn everything
that would change the world. I wanted every bold
obsession in the catalog: history, folk dance, camp
cookery, Japanese architecture, calculus, ceramics, poetry,
Old Norse where we drank deep sagas, first-year Italian,
German, Spanish, even Latin just because you could.
French Pete Creek right there east, and the path we called
the Hobbit Hole west at the coast. Remember the final exam
in sociology? “Define the nature of man.” Then that word
was too small for who we were becoming.
Nights of scribbling, years of wondering—biking through rain
I was busboy at the country club and scholar unto the wee hours
by the fire at the protest camp telling Llorona stories with my
compadres, or listening to Alonzo pound out five/four rhythms
on his drum. Some days, all you could do was drive
Fox Hollow to Lorane, where Oregon was older, seek
the resonance. We lost Martin, then Bobbie, ideals tarnished,
forged in steel. We chanted in the streets, walked nights alone,
haunted the wolf pens to listen and howl at passing trains.
I was student for twelve years until they kicked me out
with a Ph.D. Go forth: Save the world. Remember? We talked
late in that back room at the New World Coffee House
where the walls were thirty-two old doors, and we
passed through them all.