Wednesday, December 11, 2013

People & Books, Authors & Dreams

I think that at 54 years of age I should have some grasp of what it means to be serious, perhaps even have a "plan" for instituting serious things, or imposing my way of thinking/feeling on the world. Butt, alias, I have no such plans. All my work goes to work. I have no plans. I have been a more-than-willing self-criticizer for what I perceived as a kind of Repetitive Life, but then I realized that what I have in place are means, not product. I am, after all, somewhat in the way of fluid. huh.

But, news of me travels no further than the flight of such electronically fueled arrows as the Internet allows me. Yet, I write. I have always written crazy amounts, but I write even more now. This for example (I hate the word "example" for what it means. It sounds so paltry.) is my 47th or so blog posting this year on this URL alone. I also have put 30 or so on my religion blogs, written a couple books, and, at work, billed a second-to-record year. 1740 hours. You're in the business, you know what that means.

All this is one thing, but not everything. I almost envy real writers, and I could go into details, but I would be bending your ear to no purpose. I am, after all, from New Jersey. I am a child of punk rock. There is a perfect symmetry to what I do. I would no longer stand to be nominated for an award then I would suffer the perfectly reasonable demands of all published authors. I would blow it. Guar.An.Teed. There is ever on my lips a fuck you that anticipates success in art.

My dream is to die unknown having left a body of real work.

Now, I know that such a fate leads to nothing. No one, to my knowledge, has died unknown and realized fame. Fame. The very word makes me sick at heart. It suits great writers to be famous. I am not a great writer. I am me. I am a taste and a tendency admixed with a modicum of thought. I do a certain thing or things. I do not want to cloud the waters any more than is necessary.

Writing is necessary - and insofar as someone, anyone, draws a profit, I am glad. But nothing is necessary in art, except I suppose for what is great.

There is all this, but it is not all there is. I have published 26 books now, and I believe what I say, and there is no slowing down. I find my ruminations, virtually unconscious, intruding into all aspects of my life. My writing at work - legal writing - shows this intrusion, and the lawyers I work with praise it. So, what should I do? My favorite poet is Jean Follain, a mid-20th C. Frenchman, who was a corporate layer. Is that a terminus? Probably not. Do I care? No. Why would I?

I am sure I have said this elsewhere, or something like it, that poetry is the fact of having written what appears to others as a poem. I admire and support the efforts of people who appear as poets to others, and those who do not. The analogy is, I suppose, to love those I know and those I do not know. To flow, not to burden or impede. I would hate to impede anyone in anything. Everyone is so much more interesting than any book I know.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dirty the Minnow and the Book, Harry

Dirty Harry is a beautiful movie in many ways. It matches any other movie I can think of for movement-in-time, the capture of capture in situ. The gun employed is a metaphor of course for original sin. Clint Eastwood's hair is the hay in the manger at the inn where the Lord was born. And, there are dashikis.

But whereas Clint Eastwood is too old to make another "Dirty Harry" film, and has said so, the book of poems will not go away, even as it pretends it might. No, as writers, we are either writing books, immersed, stressed, or we are pretending not too, vacant, depressed. There is too much talk about what is done with books in light of the fact that the books are made regardless. Books are to poets what droppings are to pigeons or icicles to the North wind. One might say - be entitled to state - that his/her book makes a point, has a purposes, etc. But no one really cares, unless it is to that person's purpose to say so. No, the point of any book is that of the leaf that falls to the exact spot on the forest floor that was inscribed in the book of Ages.

Interest describes all. We stand, we fall, we get up in fits and droves. An announcement reaches our ears. We head home in caravans and on pogo sticks. I for one will check the minnow traps for lost excuses, the flickering self. But the books will go on. The books. The. Books.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Story over Milk

The first speech was a kind of symbol, and we hung it around the neck of the loveliest candidate. A tremendous number of people were coming and going, illuminated by star light drifting through uneven waves of fog. Sharp words arose like columns to no purpose except to be seen. At the base of each column was an unpronounceable name.

I am not alone walking among people puzzling over names. That too is a kind of unheard music, a percussion of the blood. Perhaps if you and I had written each other more often, especially in the down time, there would be less drama. But, hey, drama is not a crime. Crime is boring. Almost nothing we discuss is a crime.

A newspaper page blows past, wraps itself around the calf of a woman walking past. It counts for nothing to have me in mind unless, of course, you are at work. This day competes. The clothes I wear, like falling leaves, are not easily assumed. To return to our story, she stood taller, if such a thing is possible, and turned and waltzed into the historical like a ship that knows its cargo and its worth. Nothing could have been more disappointing, unless you take into account the close-cropped meadow grass, and the sparse though shapely apple tree.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Is form or the tendency to employ form an obsession? Are you mental? The tendency toward formalism, which we will call formaltosis, is a condition, but whether of nature, nurture, whether healthy or not, inspired or pathetic, I have no clue.

I do not think about me or myself in the same way I think of others - to pretend, of those who are not formalists, or are not afflicted with formaltosis. I do not fully understand anything, granted, but I can't imagine not having a set of blank canvases set aside or in potential on which one does one's work.

A telling recollection. At Iowa, Jorie Graham asked our class what we see when we look at a blank piece of paper. This was 1994, so we could be presumed to write/type on paper. I responded that I saw every poem that had ever been written, all of which had first to be wiped from that page before I could write.

Thinking back to those days, I miss my typewriter/word processor. I used to set a page in it and then set myself to what had to be done with it. If the piece of paper sat there for more than a day or so, I would remove it and insert another when I felt that I was ready to write. That happened rarely. I think that was a healthful exercise, even in the service of such form-related maladies as I suffered from. Going one level deeper, I believed then as now that all people are principally the same person; therefore, our efforts originate form a common source, even as the words vary. That I have entered the Catholic church is, to put a point on it, incredibly unsurprising.

The message of humanity is that We matter. The message of a poem is that I, as we, matter in this particular, traceable way, or manner.

So, form. Form the invitation, the flower bouquet, the word of love. I have always viewed my poems as at least in part a confession of the fact of being, acting in counterpoint (never exclusively). I am older now, and have no ideas for believing differently. This does not make my original. It shows that I am merely human.

Well, formalists. I also like how formaltosis appears in manner, gesture, and in our political commitments. Then, all of a sudden, I lose interest in this subject. I have gone too far along the dock to where the fish do not bite. I succumb to a paltry sky. I lose myself in wondering what to do.

I should write, is all. Shall we condemn the wren for habitat repetition? I like what is new more than I like the news per se. I like it when someone appears to have something and they and their friends are excited. I do not call that a form of anything. I call it life.