Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Just wrote & sent this2 NPR/S.F./KQED-FM "Perspective" (2min.) audio-feature heard often daily. (update: next day) Hi Bill Thanks for your interest in Perspectives.Unfortunately, I'll have to respectfully decline the submission. Mark Trautwein Editor, Perspectives


by Bill Costley (Jr.)

As Fall approaches, tho I now live at the bottom of San Francisco Bay, my thots drift back to Massachusetts Bay, & where I was born: Salem. You can’t be from Salem & never encounter Hawthorny thots.

Guilty from birth for John Hathorne, who’d tried & condemned the innocents of the Great Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692, he changed his family name to Hawthorne by deftly inserting a w, but long-inherited shame continued to obsess him.

Centuries later, my Glasgow-born father would hide his physical shame – ‘the heartbreak of psoriasis’ – from people by only swimming at the U.S. Naval Air station beach hidden behind the Salem Willows amusement park, assuring me “It’s not because of dissipation.” (Whatever that was, I wondered as a boy.)

Decades later, I was complicatedly miserable in Salem at 43, having broken up with a young New England Conservatory-trained pianist to return to Scotland (& she to Switzerland.) Returning to Salem, I sat in the noonday sun on the naval jetty a few yards from the Custom House where Hawthorne had once worked, a few yards from the House of Seven Gables Settlement House where my Polish-speaking mother had been taught to speak Yankified American-English.

I watched something moving & wrote about it:

"Wet Dreams" speedboat cuts a wake btw us
as I cast pebbles @ nrby lobster-buoy 3278J,
its one red star-on-white bobbing as
I cast my thoughts towards you,
like handfuls of pebbles,
none touching you @ all.
I think of you on Lac Neuchatel
w/ its palisades, spinnakers, utterly unlike
sober Salem's as my heart treads water, like
a heavy black bird, rising to 1',
skimming out of the innah hahbah.

[from my neosonnet series "Hammered Silver" written in Scotland, England & New England, 1985.]

(26 AUG 09)

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