I was a jock. I was a very fast runner. But I wasn’t — I’m not very big. But I played football, and track, and baseball, although track and baseball coincided. So, I ended up running track more than baseball. But I loved baseball. I didn’t start writing poetry until my junior year in college, where I was studying Fisheries Biology at Humboldt State, where then I taught for a while, just recently retired. No, that was — revolution was in the air, and I started reading some of the Beat poets, you heard a lot about these beatniks and their ways. And they seemed a little bit like outlaws. You’re at that age when sort of the edifice of lies that you’ve been told about history in your country and all that were falling away very quickly.
Like I remember, I was stunned when I found out that Black people couldn’t vote in the South.1 I mean they had the legal right to vote, but they had to pass a test. And I just felt that couldn’t be the America that I’ve been told about. And it turned out it was. So, it’s that terrible disillusionment that comes, usually for most people around high school age. I was just a little retarded, being a jock and all and a military, you know, military brainwashing. Although to my father’s credit, he never ever romanticized that war. Every time I would ask him about it, he just said, “I was terrified all the time,” which didn’t sound very romantic to me.