Now all my teachers are dead except silence.
So said W.S. Merwin, poet who died today aged 91. In college he was one of my teachers. At a remove – he didn’t teach at my university – but genuinely, mystically. In a way that mattered.
I mourn his passing, also remotely, as a poet and reader of poetry mourns the passing of all poets. In this destitute time, we need all the poets we can get. But Merwin was no stranger to destitute times, and he earned his stripes.
Farewell, then. Peace.
We are all powerless against the force of disorder, the sheer chaos, of a universe fleeing the scene of its own creation. But at least we have dogs.
That’s just a brief note copied from last night’s journal entry. And it’s funny: that looks so much more formidable handwritten in that little notebook. It’s half a page! Looks more profound too. But such is the writing life. Sometimes you think you’ve caught a dragon by the tail, but it’s just a hummingbird with other flowers on her mind.
The Time between Thanksgiving
and Christmas is a mystery to me.
The clocks stop – you can hear
them suddenly not ticking – and
disappear into the walls and all
the shadowed spaces
of our hopeful daily lives.
The clocks go on ticking only
in hospitals and jails.
Once they have stopped and
forsaken their posts, Time takes
a deep breath, looks around
a moment, and begins to run.
It runs out of the school, heading
west, hits the gas at the pizza
place, hard right by the church,
squealing past homes and offices,
feed lots where the animals live
weeping and hardly notice
Time, past my house and yours
with a sound like a sudden rain
on hot tarmac, and on to where
the sun goes down on everything
we love. In the morning, it is
Christmas. There are deer among
the trees, their soft breath steaming
as the light breaks through.
J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed
This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal. I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.
It’s been a while. There was the usual pit and prune juice of poor Beat life, and then there was this fire. We’re ok. And so it is Christmas and hopefully I can get back into blogging for the first of the year. For now there’s this, and God bless you and yours.
“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies:
God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
– Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
If we are going to survive these enervating days, we need to come to an understanding. We must give each other space to Be. We should stop demanding the use of each other’s minds to further our own questionable, possibly misbegotten, ends.
American culture in 2017 is scripted for television, in the worst possible sense. Viewer discretion is not only advised, it may be crucial to our hopes for sanity. Covfefe the Clown thinks he’s holding court in the Big Top, the Center Ring, but in reality we all have lives that are much more important to us, far closer, more pressing and urgent, day to day. 45 is just a sideshow barker surrounded by flying monkeys, screaching “Welcome to the Grand Illusion. Come on in and see what’s happening. Pay the price, get your tickets to the Show!”
Don’t fall for it. Your mind was made for better things. You have a truth to express and it’s entirely possible it exists in no other mind in the world. I mean you won’t find it in opinions, in the results of other people’s thinking. No one else can think what you can think. Find the freedom to think it.
Proposed First Rule of the Creative Life
Whenever someone is creating something where there was nothing before, don’t interrupt.
Sub part A: Transpersonal expressions count, whether you believe it or not.
Sub part B: Making Nothing out of anything should be assessed with strictest scrutiny.
Metaphors be with you.
Listen to Styx, The Grand Illusion:
Poetry is above all a concentration of the power of language, which is the power of our ultimate relationship to everything in the universe.
– Adrienne Rich