Too Late, Too Soon

I am reminded tonight, adrift as I am again in the horse latitudes of creative inertia, of a line from the writer Anne Lamott.

“Ah! Stuck in the shit! And it’s your fault, you did this…”

Believe me I’m deeply motivated to blame others for the reality that I’m creating nothing out of nothing. Jean-Paul Sartre said “hell is other people” because the judgments of society are always in our minds, so we are never free. Even now as I type this, all alone in my condo — with no impressions of the outside world but the gentle exhalations of the freeway and the whisper of the sprinklers coming on — I am not free.

You are going to judge me, aren’t you? People who know me and people who don’t are going to read this and make calculations, draw conclusions, read between the lines, assume and presume to understand. And brains will have reactions. So you have a claim on my freedom from the future, as I have a claim on your attention from the past.

That is a weird concept: You’re in my head, for better or worse, and I’m in yours. And it seems to be a kind of magic. But if we’re not careful, it’s more disillusion than illusion, less trick than trial.

Sadly, that is the Grand Illusion, that we have the capacity to know each other, or even to know ourselves. Nevertheless, that is the poet’s job: to look out at the world and explore and illuminate moments subjectively, with the self as primary subject.

It’s late – the mind drifts. I leave you with a few ponderables from my Commonplace Book, perhaps to be parsed furtively in a future post, if God wills it:

“No matter how piercing and appalling his insights, the desolation
creeping over his outer world, the lurid lights and shadows of his inner
world, the writer must live with hope, work in faith.”

— J.B. Priestley

“Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.”

— Sartre

“In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable.”

— John Steinbeck

“No one deserves to know the real you. Let them criticize who they think you are.”

— Unknown

 

 

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Up With Life

Up with life. Stamp out all small and large indignities. Leave everyone alone to make it without pressure. Down with hurting. Lower the standard of living. Do without plastics. Smash the servo-mechanisms. Stop grabbing. Snuff the breeze and hug the kids. Love all love. Hate all hate.

– John D. MacDonald
novelist
1916-1986

The Elements

In the forest you belong to the trees
and the trees will behold you
as you come and go.
In the desert you belong to the rocks,
the hard earth, and the sun.
The shadows in the long valley
have shadows and the lights
from the houses reflect
from the asphalt if it rains.

I don’t know which element
we belong to here.
Is it the ocean, or the mountains,
or the broad curves of sand?
To which do we retire when it’s time?
Now there is only the celebrating sky
or the dull overcast of coastal air.
No help for the soul to find its way.
I think that we will have to wait and see.

1230081651
Another in what seems to be a series of poems exploring the concept of place as spiritual corollary. I think it’s interesting that over the years I’ve repeatedly postulated that the place where I live, though beautiful, is less intrinsically spiritual than other places I’ve been. That has to be because I’m used to living here, that I don’t see what I want to find here, beyond the visual. There must be a reason why a vision quest traditionally involves going out, away from the place where the spiritual seeker lives. A vision quest in my own hometown isn’t easy.

 

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

Sleepy Little Dog

I begin to write: the little dog
is sleeping by the door, breathing
the sour dampness of the yard,
her paws moving slightly, dreaming
of rabbits and the taste of grass….

I have come to know this pen,
the weight of it, the point
which must be turned just so.
The cheap gold pitted
by the sweat of my hands.

My pen is hard and cold;
with it, I can write only words.
Your voice and even least
amazing smile are lost
to the physics of thought.

The ink I use is black.
I used all the blue for failing at love.
I thought love was soft color,
carousel horses and a rainy day.
But maybe it’s arc light and violence,
a tiger and a spray of blood.

So I was wrong, and this old
pen is useless, dead
without the rhythm of your step
and the flight of your hands.
But now it’s all I have, because
the dog has drifted off to sleep.

 

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

Note: This is an older poem. It’s been published in print before. But I wanted to share a link and couldn’t find where I had posted it on this blog before. Weird. 

Shimmer

If I had only film for one picture
I would hand the camera
to a stranger passing by
and have them point it back at us.
I don’t want to be left out.
Get us all with the sun
on our faces as it sets
and the sky behind us darkening blue.
Don’t miss anyone, not even
the beloved dead,
captured as a shimmer among the roses.
Not even the lost and unborn,
whose story is twilight
and the streetlights coming on.

 

 

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

Something to Do

I found a list of daily journaling prompts online and the one for yesterday was “you have film for one picture.” I’ve also been thinking about the word shimmer. It’s a good word. So I’m working on a poem inspired by that idea and that word. Maybe it’s a poem; it’s something that wasn’t there before.

Here’s a quote for your day:

“There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.”

— Nikki Giovanni