Al Young title

‘BOOM! JUST LIKE THAT!’ — In memory of Mark Baldridge (1948-2014)


Photo Al Young

At Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma, CA (2008), poet Joyce Jenkins — in the musical company of her partner Mark Baldridge, a feeling flautist — reads from Joy Road, and other recent work.


In memory of Mark Baldridge

I didn’t know about Peet’s Coffees or how early on
you, its PR savior, penned poem-like ads for Peet’s
you welcomed Joyce to validate — or rate at least.
I, the lonely long-distance runner, didn’t know you,
the shining long-distance swimmer. You cooked.
The fluent German you spoke – I didn’t know about
this, either. Joyce did. You hid nothing. I blinked.

I didn’t know you were Cleveland-born, blue collar,
before GM moved the plant out to Santa Barbara.
My dad worked for GM, too, for Chevrolet, the line.
I didn’t know you as a near-Motor City émigré like
me, like Joyce, like Motown Records up and moving
Detroit to L.A. (“Now, what I say?” – Marvin Gaye)
Boom! Just like that! What went wrong? Why?
And I could tell you if you really want to know.

Distance without measure clocks us, gauges
the breadth of our ignorance. And when it comes
to one another, we don’t know shit. Laws of motion?
Dreams? Hey, kind silence lets us breathe. Moot,
its reckless, pointless calculus invites, enshrines.

You liked your music classical. You loved flautists or
flutists, whatever they called themselves: Jean-Pierre
Rampal, James Galway, bamboo flute masters —
you loved them all. Until Petaluma, the Poetry Walk,
and Geri Digiorno’s intro, the sound of sweet Joyce’s
Joy Road, Detroit poems, who knew you blew flute?
I didn’t. But, Mark, there you beamed. Hers. His.
Soulful, a unit, you two, now united, now untied.

Music-stand and chops, you said, “I’ve got your back.”
Right behind your partner’s side, you fingered silver.
You sang each other. We’re talking verse. The twists,
the turns, repeats I couldn’t guess; melodies in keys
we shared for sure. I got your heartbeat, though.
I loved the chords. I felt the flash, your hush, I breathed;
a watershed (Wasserscheide) in the history of back-stories.
How coffees, once illicit, light us up! No sugars, no creams.
Please, Mark. I didn’t know to thank you until now.

Al Young
13 January 2015
© 2015


Photo courtesy of the Baldridge Family

‘The Man Behind the Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival:
Mark Baldridge, 1948-2014’

By Sharon Coleman
Berkeleyside logo
(January 8, 2015)


Mark & Joyce 2008 magnifying_glass_icon

Mark Baldridge and Joyce Jenkins,
Petaluma Poetry Walk, 2008
(Photo: Al Young)


4 Responses to “‘BOOM! JUST LIKE THAT!’ — In memory of Mark Baldridge (1948-2014)”

  1. Gerald Fleming Says:

    Wonderful page, Al. Great.



  2. Sharon Doubiago Says:

    I haven’t digested Mark’s departure, that’s for sure. I go little periods
    where I forget. Where I’m grateful
    for forgetfulness.
    He meant many things to me. Oh, to put that
    in past tense! fuck!

  3. Jen Joseph Says:

    Beautiful & full of goodness {just like Mark) … thanks

  4. Al Says:

    Thanks, Jerry. I meant every word and pause.

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