Would it surprise you to learn that like most writers, I have spent more than a little guilty time trying to imagine what you look like, what you know you should be doing while you are reading this poem.
And I do wish I couild see your face as you read it, knowing it is a conversation where you want to speak, to tell me that you like my work, that reading me is a complete and utter waste of time, but you cannot, so I will conclude that you do like my work or else you would not be reading this in the first place.
Reality is clearly something to be avoided to be dressed up in tattery, tied in ribbons, perfumed, yet its fetid stench is always lurking in the background waiting to pierce your nostrils in an incautious moment until you retch and bring up the bile that marks the darker moments of your life, the kind that lingers in the throat which no chocolate can erase. Reality is often ugly, so we ignore it or hide it behind masks, or offer it willingly to others, a gift in surfeit. It sneaks up on you, and sets its hook periodically, and thrashes you at will, the barb tears through new flesh, setting itself deeper, intractable. You and I are dying, as I write, as you read, an ugly thought particularly lying in bed staring into darkness, no motion or sound from your spouse, mate, paramour, friend, significant other or teddy bear, where God is too busy to respond at the moment and sleep is perched in the bleachers, held back by the usher for want of a ticket stub, content to watch the game from afar. I cast ink to paper, an offer of reality as though the divorce from the words will erase the little pains and anguishes of our ever distancing marriage, while holding vainly onto the warm and sweet, the far side of the Mobius of reality (the skunk is at once ugly and soft and caring). We write of pain, of ugliness, of anger at terrible lengths, or weave tapestries of words to cover the flawed, stained walls of our minds, like so many happy endings, requisite in the script. Basho knew only too well that truth of beauty should be captured in few syllables.
First Appeared in Chaminade Literary Review, Vols. 16-17, Fall 1995.
The problem with too many songwriters these days is that they either pose a question but demand answers, or only partially answer their own question, leaving the listener to guess at the balance of the answer.
You are atop my list, sadly, dear Alanis, for when you ask if it is ironic, for most of your examples I must respond that it is not so.
And Paul, nice song, but would you care to tell us the other forty-five ways to leave your lover?
But in the spirit of giving to Michael Stipe I say I spoke to Ken and we agree it is 88.5 MHz.
“I will take it,” the aging poet said to the ever more sparse crowd at the weekly open mic, “as a recognition is the growth in the quality of my writing that I continue being rejected but now by a much higher quality of literary journals.”
After years of embarrassment I have finally come into the light. It isn’t that my writing has improved, although I surmise that would be a narrow space to fill, or that I can now draw things that were once stick people and animals and things.
What has improved, and improved significantly is my singing voice, once a three note range, and one not known to music, but now I carry complex tunes to near perfection.
If you ask how this is possible, I will let you in on a secret, it is all in the audience, and mine is now limited to those stone deaf.
It was Salvador Dali who once said: “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” It might have easily have been my creative writing professor in College, although he would have added, “and in your case I doubt you’ll ever get close.”
Well over time I have certainly proved Dali right, although I’d like to think the esteemed professor missed the mark, but as Cage said, Nicolas not John, “Nobody wants to watch perfection.”
First, read the syllabus and buy the books we will read. Note that I have carefully selected works for which there are no Cliff Notes or their equivalent, so if you were counting on that consider yourself screwed.
When you write an essay, do not ever, let me emphasize EVER, begin by saying in my opinion, for if I wanted an opinion on a great writer’s work I would as soon stop and ask my multigrain bagel what it thought, although I admit its Everything cousin did have some amazing insights into Hamlet.
Do not bother plagarizing quotes from things you find on the internet, for they will either be wrong or you will have found them by using Google or another search engine and I discovered those when you were still in diapers. And finally if you ask for more time to write a paper, I will give you a strong recommendation to take my friend’s Intermediate Composition class, the one you tried to duck by taking my class instead.
There are nights when the song of a single cricket can pull you away from sleep. She says that she has heard that not all Angels have wings and neither of them is sure how you would know if you met a bodhisattva. He searches the mail every day, for a letter from unknown birth parents but none of the credit cards he ought to carry offers to rebate his dreams. Each night they lie back pressed to back and slip into dreams. She records hers in the journal she keeps with the pen, by the bed. He struggles to recall his and places what shards he can in the burlap sack of his memory.
First Published in Where Beach Meets Ocean, The Block Island Poetry Project, 2013