Well this doesn’t feel right for Easter but what can you do? It’s the most close to ready piece in the notebook. And I like the cadence and the weird rhyme between the third and last stanzas. I don’t use rhyme much but sometimes I like to experiment.
Happy Easter. I hope the bunny or higher power of your conception made timely delivery of whatever peace, happiness, or sense of purpose you needed most.
Below is the last poem I wrote in 2022; it was a lean year for creative output, to say the least. My bad. And I don’t know if anyone is still reading this blog. At one time it had 7,000 subscribers but I have been neglectful. I hope that 2023 will be better. One of the things I’ve been trying to teach myself is that writers/poets have to practice their scales just like musicians. Of course that means setting boundaries, protecting the hour or so a day that’s the bare minimum for doing anything with one’s life. And the people around me don’t respond well to boundaries. They see spending time living the life you’re working to make a living to have as a reward for being successful enough that you don’t have to work. Which is like saying a farmer can’t harvest any of his crop unless he harvests enough to throw some away.
I see life differently. I believe that we’re born to live a certain secret amount of time, and that every moment of that time belongs completely to the person whose life it is. Not one second ever belongs to anyone else. It’s ridiculous to think you have to borrow some of it back from your employer, or your family. You don’t have to justify your self-expression, how you spend your time, or deny the fact that being not busy doesn’t mean being available. You should keep your promises and support others, but you haven’t promised to be with them all the time, and they haven’t promised to pay you what your life is worth.
How infinite and amazing a human life is, and how completely we reduce every life we see – even our own – to its most basic appearances. It’s tempting to see only the surface: the hair, the tattoos, the piercings, the clothes, the secondary sex characteristics. When I see people, I try to see the sadness, the gladness, the pain, the fears and hopes and history that has all brought them to their Now.
The way we see each other and our fleeting lives is like looking at a distant galaxy and saying well, that’s not quite enough light to read a menu by. And it makes me sad and I can’t communicate in words how much life is worth loving, how much people are worth their freedom and the celebration and defense of their solitude.
Happy New Year
Thinking about a human life makes all the light held by time retreat to the distant corners of the mind. Time can’t imagine such a life, can’t can’t hold it, and time can’t set it free. Eternity is the only – oh, so lonesome – measure of a thought.
And how can I love you, who never arrived, was never found, barely sought: the walled garden unmapped in any world? But I do, I have so for long. I swear to die with your secret name still forming in my thoughts.
If I see the surface of the ocean and think I know what lies beneath, I must be ready to accept a slow death by thirst, shivering and steeped in a cold mist. Eight billion lives is so many infinite worlds.
But for the time being I am in the center of everything that screams and teems. And it’s subtle as the most intangible reality. For now time is the duration of a thought.
Clarice Lispector Agua Viva
Boomer is living on borrowed time. He has very little he can call his own, so he borrows as much as he can. It arrives from the sky in tiny packages that glance off the struggling grass, brush his face and become exactly the just-now moment of a thought.
Boomer is in love with words, even their droplets of darkness. All night and sometimes in the day he mumbles words. He conjures them out of paper and they skitter and lurch away into short lives, meaning nothing to anyone but him. When he sleeps the words fall out of line and make a run back toward chaos. And they are glad to be scattered. They were no good for each other.
Boomer wakes and looks around and laughs – he knows he’ll find his words again beyond the deep blue channel, past the islands, outside of time. And also dogs.
Boomer will be an excellent ghost. He loves to be quiet. He’ll be a spirit of wood – of furniture and windowsill – the vague squeak of a floorboard when no one living is up and moving through the dark house. A phantom of ambiguity and a slight tingle in the nerves. So he practices being forgotten and unnamed.
Boomer will be a friend to sleeping cats, focusing puddles of sunlight on the rugs. His thoughts will float like motes of dust and make the room a little sad, though no one will remember why. And somewhere in eternity, old Boomer will be asleep in his words.
Oh! My (for lack of a better word) God You who are if I am not, You who are not if I am, for for that matter both and neither, I pray to you the unnamable, incomprehensible Being, for peace, for consolation in my inexorable solitude, for my life to light (even if weakly) the lives of those I touch and hold fast, for my moment in the space of time to do no damage, cause no suffering, abridge no freedom, and then for me to be forgotten in the long birthnight of mystery and oblivion. Amen.
Since I’m not generating much polished work product these days, I thought we might try tackling the subject of books. I’m thinking I’ll start a series of posts about the books I’m enjoying. Also, links to booktube channels on YouTube where I find great recommendations.
I read more than I write. I’ve read a number of good books so far this year, and I’m currently reading a lot more. My current reading list has gotten way out of control, but it’s all so good that I don’t want to move any of these down to my reading later list.
I guess I’m what people call a mood reader. I don’t stick with one thing and finish it; I read whatever I’m in the mood to read. Also, some books seem to fit into a certain general time of day. For example, Great Expectations is a prime time book. I read it in the evening sometimes, instead of streaming video for a while. The Book of Disquiet, Collected Fictions, and Decreation aren’t novels and they’re better closer to bedtime.
This is my current list of books for 2022. This isn’t my collection, just what what I’m reading now, expect to read this year, and what I’ve recently completed.
I’m currently reading:
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens The Book of Disquiet – Fernando Pessoa Season of Migration to the North -Tayeb Salih Frankenstein – Mary Shelley (1818) Collected Fictions – Borges Decreation – Anne Carson The Iliac Crest – Cristina Rivera Garza Dowry of Blood – S.T. Gibson Cathedral of Mist – Paul Willems Seeking Slow – Melanie Barnes The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern Journal of a Novel – John Steinbeck
Recently Completed Books
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle – Murakami The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde Snow Country – Yasunari Kawabata Snow – Orhan Pamuk The Book Thief – Marjus Zusak Pedro Paramo – Juan Rulfo Autobiography of Red – Anne Carson Piranesi – Susanna Clarke Untold Night and Day – Bae Suah One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez The Sense of an Ending The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter
Books Waiting on My Shelves
1Q84 – Haruki Murakami Letters to a young Poet – Rilke The Remains of the Day – Ishiguro When we were Orphans – Ishiguro The Anthropocene Reviewed – John Green The Alienist – Machado de Assis The Waves – Virginia Wolf Klara and the Sun – Kazuo Ishiguro On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong Things Fall Apart – Achebe, Chinua The Road – Cormac McCarthy The House of Spirits – Isabel Allende The Memory Police – Yogo Ogawa Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon Dark Tales – Shirley Jackson The Legend of Hill House – Shirley Jackson The Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell Ghostwritten – David Mitchell Quiet – Susan Cain The Unconsoled – Kazuo Ishiguro Beloved – Toni Morrison The Count of Monte Christo – Alexandre Dumas The Best of Richard Matheson Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas – Machado de Assis Collected Stories of William Faulkner Absalom! Absalom – William Faulkner Sixty Stories – Donald Barthelme Emma – Jane Austen Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen Eugene Onegin – Pushkin Frankenstein in Baghdad -Ahmed Saadawi The Phantom of the Opera – Gaston Leroux The Snow Leopard – Matheson Don Quixote – Cervantes A Gentleman in Moscow – Where the Crawdads Sing East of Eden – John Steinbeck Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez The Dark Interval – Rilke
It’s national poetry month and I have some things indolently percolating in the notebook but nothing ready to post just yet. But the month is about to end and I’m nothing if not sensitive to the pressures of the calendar. So here’s a better poem, but the great mystical poet W.S. Merwin. It’s been living in the back of my mind since the 1980s, when it first occurred to me that it applies to me. I was in college studying literature when it was published so I probably saw it hot off the press. Those were days in ways that today and yesterday were not, if you know what I mean.
I’ll try to get one of those new poems up by the weekend but no promises. I don’t think any of us is responding well to pressure these days. We know the consequences of our actions only in the protractions of time.
“I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
On every screen we see the smoke climbing reaching for the pity of Christ and we realize they dress their babies just like Americans their children have the same expressions of uncomprehending fear, the same shine reflecting the pastures of Heaven in their Ukrainian eyes and is this some kind of trick?
I watch news in small doses because plague time has compressed my life as well and my dull eyes fill with tears because this is pure evil and someday a screaming may come across the sky for all of us.
I made a few new year’s resolutions, which aren’t going well so far. I intended to focus on every good opportunity to shut the f–k up and stop giving unsolicited advice, to stop sharing opinions about choices or situations outside my own responsibility and control, and to write positive, grateful, hopefully uplifting poems. I’m still taking when nobody – least of all me – wants to hear me, still opining about things that are up to others from my family to global psychotic dementors like Voldemort Pootin’, and here’s another dark sad poem.
It’s not my fault. I would have been more than happy to write an ode to the wind clouds hovering over the coastal range this morning, and I’m not the demonpuke bombing innocent, defenseless people. Art has to meet the world where it is and tell the truth.
I would have been happy. I’m not sure I can see an opening in the funhouse mirrors of protracted chaos to find the exit to happy tonight but I can close my eyes and find reasons for gratitude. That’s something; in fact, it’s a lot. I’ll take it, gratefully, and hold fast to hope for the survivors of the massacre in Ukraine. Maybe they can use our hope more than our sadness and faith more than anger.