OK, BOOMER

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.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

PRAYER FOR A MOMENT

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.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

Let’s Discuss Books

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

Blood Moon Rising

We were never lovers and I don’t know
if that means everything or nothing
since so much of everything I imagine
remembering is meaningless now.
It’s not important but maybe

I saw the moon one night last week.
Alone, I just stood there and thought
it looked strange, smoky as it rose
over Rincon. Later I realized
I’d unseen the blood moon in its flight.

My mind was somewhere else while
Earth threw a bloody shadow
on its bone china innocence.
(The only place that Man has ever
reached and not committed murder.)

But why did you take my hand
that night in the college parking lot
under the oak trees, interlacing
your perfect young fingers with mine,
if everything means nothing?

Never mind: I’m too old now to
misunderstand the maimings of love.
The great eye of the moon looks
down from eternity and they say
we’re meeting on the other side.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

References/Inspirations:

The maimings of love are endlessly funny,
as are the tiny figures of talking animals,
being blown to pieces in cartoons.
~ Gilbert Sorrentino, The Moon in its Flight

A poem should be motionless in time   
As the moon climbs.…
A poem should not mean   
But be.
~ Archibald Macliesh, Ars Poetica

Yesterday

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.

https://poets.org/poem/yesterday

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.

Things and Stuff

Things and stuff on my mind.

  • Survival mode
  • Shared life/Private life balance (boundaries)
  • Mindfulness in the Midst of Calamity
  • The (unconditional) Beauty of Others
  • Love in the Time of Corona
  • War and Chaos
  • The Persistent Illusion 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

What have you been pondering?

Shining Eyes

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.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

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.

Peace.

Yes, Virginia …

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

VIRGINIA O’HANLON.
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

After Two Years

“Am well. Thinking of you always. Love.”
― Albert Camus, The Plague

What if there is no I, no not-I,
maybe only We, certainly no Them?
What if it is all one light, one darkening
into death, one ineluctable pain?

There is so much more to write poems
about than death, I know. But the birds
simply sing as the humans rise and fall
on waves of plague. Their music
hasn’t changed my mind. There are
nights I just want to sit here alone,
listening to dogs barking
at nothingness, and weep.

So let’s burn it all down, let it shine,
sing, walk down old roads, leaving
the dead behind to bury the dead
as they become more night than day
more peace than fight, more joy
than struggle. Of course I am afraid.
Aren’t you?

I don’t know what God intends to do
about it when I die but my house
will be occupied by not-Me.
Time will stop but continue turning
in its widening gyres.

Maybe we will sit in the dim coffeehouse
under the shaggy eucalyptus
but I will sit apart.
Maybe we will stand in the last bookstore
of eternity, listening
as all the old ink turns to rain.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed