He had long since decided that language was impossible, the English language in particular. He had acquired all manner of dictionaries, and had searched the web, using it as a reverse dictionary. But all too often the language came up short. Words at best approximated what he meant, what he saw, but to get even close, he needed to string adverbs and adjectives to his nouns and verbs until he had an ungodly mess. He knew the solution and set out to implement it. As time went on, he filled notebook after notebook, flash drive after flashdrive (redudency was a virtue in this case, he knew) with the new words. And he was finally satisfied, like Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty. For now when he used a word, it meant exactly what he wished it to because he created the word.
Why do I write, you ask.
I’m a writer, so I should have
a good answer, or at least a glib one.
I could say I write for others
but you would ask who
those others are, and smile knowingly
when I have no answer.
I could say I write for myself,
and that would be true enough,
but rather sad and egotistical,
for the thoughts alone should suffice.
I will probably choose
not to answer you, and I will
suffer that sneer you will adopt,
but I am a writer, you know,
so being sneered at
is hardly anything new.
We only see the present as history,
by day history is a matter of minutes,
by night of seconds, years or centuries.
There is no future to be seen, only
imagined, the mind writing a story
that can never be read, never told.
It is only when we close the eyes
that the present truly exists,
independent of the past, free
and the past is merely waves
washing over and around us,
and the mind can find freedom.
the bulls begin
their slow descent
down the narrow streets
muscle and sinews taut
they forge ahead
a white wave
in their mad dash
and each year
there is one,
some years two
who, by slip of foot
or lapse of judgment
meet the horns
of the lead bull
who in disgust
First published in Defenestration ,Vol XVI Issue 2 August 2019
Now take up the pen
and write economically
lest you run out of
First published in Defenestration, Vol. XVI issue 2 August 2019
It is there waiting, no doubt
another trap, simple initially seeming pure
but harboring a malevolence that will
soon consume you, leave you broken,
so considering the pen as a weapon,
to lay waste to it, or for seppuku,
both thoughts will no doubt come to mind.
It has always been like this, always will,
different if you chose the digital path,
but only a difference in implement,
the struggle, the loss, the outcome
very much the same, so consistent.
Still you take up pen, stare deeply
at your adversary, swear it will not
defeat you this time, battle on valiantly,
but finally, and yet again, painfully concede
to the omnipotent abyss that today
as yesterday is the pure untouched page.
We love drawing lines and borders. There are few things we do better than that. But increasingly we have lost our once finely honed skill at placing them where they ought to be. I won’t even get into walls on borders to keep out families, those like our families were once. I mean small lines and borders. What line decides whether the old inn is ramshackle or quaint? Is this thing I found in the attic a tchotchke or a collectible? And seriously, is what am I about to write doggerel or humorous verse? I’ll be the judge of that one.
He stood in front of the class
in a more than half empty lecture hall
and leaned into the podium, almost smiling.
He was here, a real poet, half famous
by his own reckoning, totally so by ours
since he was rumpled, as a poet ought,
his sport coat tweedy and ill fitting.
Still we harbored some doubts,
for there was no telltale sign
of a fountain pen’s ink
on his fingers and his nails
looked fresh from a manicure.
But he gripped the podium, read
and only glanced down occasionally,
so he must be a real poet,
for he didn’t bend the fingers
as if always hovering over
a keyboard, waiting for inspiration.
Many now say the age of great literature
has died, the mortal woiund inflicted
by the advent of the self-correcting
IBM Selecric typewriter, when words
bcame evanescent, as suddenly gone
as when they spilled onto the page.
Others, I count myself among them,
believe the wound was not fatal,
deep certainly, but yet there remains
a faint pulse, ressuscitation possible
with the application of utmost care.
For there forbears florid phrasing
in the forethoughtful flow of the fountain
pen, precious and pure prose and poetry
in the precise point of the Pilot pen.
Perhaps, if you happen upon this
small scrap of scrip, you will
see the possibility in this proposition.
With the stroke of a pen,
they enabled me to write the story,
gave a framework on which
I could hang all manner
of dreams and assumptions,
inviting a search I never
quite got around to making.
I wandered the beaches
of Estoril in my dreams,
stalked the avenues of Lisbon,
looking for a familiar face,
but found only ghosts.
With the stroke of a swab
inside my cheek, a vial
of saliva mailed, the story
came apart, and a new story
slowly unfolded, gone forever
was Iberia, replaced by Scotland
and Ireland, Wales, Norway
and Germany, and my dreams
were filled with the music
of the bodhran and Highland pipes.