Mar. 15, 2012

At the Goodwill

by Timothy Walsh

Like crows tearing at roadkill,
people rummage among the aisles
              and clothes bins,
ransacking the discarded clutter of other lives
for that special undiscovered something.

Beyond an army of tired shoes, you make your way
              to the back corner
where golf clubs by the hundreds jut from barrels,
shafts and clubheads jumbled helter-skelter.

Nearby, old golf bags are piled like clumsy sea creatures
              dead upon the sand.
Splayed zippers and torn pockets full of old golf balls,
crumpled scorecards, stubby pencils, and old tees....

Some clubs are still caked with mud,
remnant of the day they were last played,
orphaned by the terse calling card of death,
forgotten in basements or garages long past the funeral,
until they are dropped off, lifted from the trunks of cars
              with a pallbearer's decorum....

Clubs once cherished by men,
magic implements to leverage the spirit,
arcane as alchemists' weapons—
Spalding Synchro-Dyned Top-Flite,
Lynx Predator, Golden Ram,
Wilson Strata-Bloc Cup Defender,
MacGregor Oil Hardened Chieftain—
each club someone's personal Excalibur
elevating the soul with each dance-like swing,
old woods, maple and persimmon, once
              lovingly cleaned and oiled,
now grimy, cast off, seemingly dead.

But if you close your eyes, you can feel something—
              a low hum, diffuse as starlight—
all the accumulated shot-concentration of decades
stored in the clubs like batteries,
the fire of long-dead golfers still smoldering
              in the grips and clubheads.

Bring an armful home. Scour them clean.
Rub lemon oil into the wood, and mink oil
              onto the leather grips.
Tomorrow, take them out on the course.
Send the ball flying with a satisfying crack of wood,
the club in your hand ecstatic as a blind man
              with restored sight.

"At the Goodwill" by Timothy Walsh, from Blue Lace Colander. © Marsh River Editions, 2008. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

The first Internet domain name was registered on this date in 1985, by a company called Before the Internet, there was ARPANET, which came online in 1969. A project of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, ARPANET originally connected large computers at four universities in California and Utah; it was used by computer experts, engineers, scientists, and librarians. Email was developed for ARPANET in 1972, and file sharing in 1973. ARPANET expanded and inspired other networks over the next decade. More and more academic and government institutions adopted the networking technology.

Prior to the advent of the domain name system that we use today, hosts were represented by their numerical address on a computer network. But the addresses were hard to remember, and if the site moved to a different IP — Internet Protocol — address, it had to adopt a new string of numbers. Associating the IPs with a name made it easier for people to memorize, and changing a location only required changing the numerical address associated with the name.

A list of early domains is populated by the usual suspects: tech companies like IBM, Intel, Sun Microsystems, and Hewlett-Packard. But the little-known company called got there first.

In 1985, only six companies held .com domains. By 1992, there were fewer than 15,000. In 2010, there were 84 million separate domains, pouring $1.5 trillion USD into the global economy.

It's the birthday of novelist and poet Ben Okri (books by this author), born in Minna, Nigeria, in 1959. Okri began writing when he was 14, and by the time he was 19, he had completed his first novel: Flowers and Shadows. Then he moved to London, with his manuscript in his suitcase. He said, "I went there because of Dickens and Shakespeare. No, let's say Shakespeare and Dickens, to get them in the right order." His novel was published in 1980.

His early works are Realist in style, and his protagonists are usually trying to deal with the effects of postcolonial Africa. His later works, like The Famished Road (1991), incorporate African myth and folklore, and they've been labeled magical realism. Okri disagrees: "I grew up in a tradition where there are simply more dimensions to reality: legends and myths and ancestors and spirits and death. You can't use Jane Austen to speak about African reality. Which brings the question: what is reality? Everyone's reality is different."

His latest collection of stories is 2009's Tales of Freedom. He also published an essay collection last year, called A Time for New Dreams (2011).

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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