Writes Alone

My musings & struggles with the blank page…

I glimpsed what I thought was Infinity

I glimpsed what I

Thought was Infinity

On the stormy horizon

Of The Pacific Ocean.

 

Relentless waves pounding

Fiercely at the fortressed

Shoreline at the end of the world.

 

Black knights mounted

Upon surfboard steeds

Rode Dragon waves.

 

And maybe it was only

The constant clenching

of water into fists,

 

Battering Earth’s body,

That gave me this sense

of what endless could be.

 

 

I ride the bus

When does a moment

turn into poetry?

I can never tell.

 

Maybe it’s because

I ride the bus.

of humanity,

Stopping-starting-stopping

Getting it on and getting off.

 

See the giant who

Lives with his mother

Like expired royalty.

On the bus, world weary

He sits, a package of

Toilet paper tucked

under his arm.

A bag of groceries on the floor.

His leg is not a fairytale,

Lifeless, swollen

like a corpse.

Many panels of fabric

sewn into his pants

hide the zombie limb.

 

Old Man Time’s vacantly

filled, wild eyes.

Sits ZZ top bearded

On the bus.

A terminal Jesus,

He wanders

In the wilderness

Of city streets.

Speaking to no one,

A messiah muted

always forgotten

and rarely known.

 

 

Springtime Madness

Behold Beauty

Laboring

Easter Rebirth

 

Trees shyly don

Bridal finery

Awaiting

 

The Bridegroom

Green fingers of

New life

 

Claw the

Earth

And escape

 

Winter’s grave

The Messiah’s

Come

 

Anointed then

Baptized with

Springtime

 

Madness

This brave hope

Blooms

 

Inside

The shimmering

Nubile flowers.

“Redoing the Moment”

When I was a kid I loved The Carol Burnett Show. One of my favourite comedy sketches they did was the writer typing up a story on a typewriter, while the characters acted out the story as the writer typed. Of course, the writer would keep changing the story by adding new details, like pregnancy, murder, changing a character’s personality, etc… The characters had to react right away to what the writer changed and often the results were hilarious. It really impressed me how much control a writer had over what they were creating. I know there are times when it feels like a piece is writing itself, but ultimately it is the writer who is creating what is flowing on to the page. A fact that should never be forgotten.

Today I was thinking about what I loved about writing and the “redoing the moment” aspect of it stood out for me. Where else in life can I do this? Rewriting is endlessly fascinating to me and it’s during it that I often learn the most about the story and sometimes myself. Now Kerouac was an opponent of rewriting and preached that what you wrote down first was often the best and should be left as it is. I have to admit I’m pretty impressed by his brave method, but I don’t think it’s for me. The long, suffering characters in my stories will have to continue adjusting to all the changes I inflict on them, as I doggedly rewrite what doesn’t work or make sense or just isn’t good enough.

That’s the beauty of writing, there is no absolute way to do it. It all depends on the individual and what works (or doesn’t) for them. I will probably always rewrite and even my so called finished pieces won’t be safe from my need to keep tinkering and experimenting with the words and the ideas in them. Writing is one big, neverending, story for me. 

Lives to Eat

Some days the fragility of life is very apparent. I shuffled along wondering what it all meant. There was a very weird energy on the streets of Vancouver today, people were cussing to themselves and looking as gray as the clouds hovering in the sky. It was the kind of day, where people think seriously about what they will put in their stomachs. Of course I’m always plotting and scheming about the next meal, no matter what the day, but today it seemed even more important than usual. It’s a terrible weakness I have, this obsession to eat tasty food. I’ve noticed all the best writers I admire happily ate crap and didn’t waste time shopping and cooking fine meals. And it’s not that I produce these gourmet extravaganzas (sometimes I do, but not always), it’s just that I want the best I can buy prepared well. I think my writing suffers because of this folly of mine. I’ve tried to change, but I can’t. I guess I’m just one of those fools who lives to eat, instead of eating to live.

I don’t want to die in my sleep

I’ve decided I don’t want to die

In my sleep, missing my soul’s

Departure would be a tragedy.

I want to be wide awake.

Facing death like a warrior brave,

Knowing it, feeling it, and

Finally surrendering to it.

To die with full intention,

I hope that I can do this.

That pivotal moment of

Submission between myself and Death.

My last living moment as

Me, before I let go and move on.

It will be hard to die well,

Breaking the union between

Flesh and Spirit will demand much of

Me, I don’t want to die in

My sleep. I want to know how I die.

 

 

All we have is our stories.

All we have is our memories… Okay that’s appears to be a reasonable statement, but what are memories? What constitutes a bona fide memory?Is it a verifiable event or just a figment of the imagination that is considered real? I’ll admit I’m vexed about this and I’ll tell you why. Yesterday I was reliving happy memories of drawing and colouring as a child with crayons and I was taking great pleasure in remembering my favourite shade of yellow from Crayola called Dandelion. I loved that yellow, it was one of my favourite colours. No big deal, right? Except that this shade didn’t become part of Crayola’s arsenal until 1990, long after I ceased to be a child madly colouring my heart out. Talk about a mind f***.

Well there is always a logical explanation for things, right? The only thing I could come up with, was colouring with my young son, who was coincidentally born in 1990. I must admit that opening a brand new box of Crayola Crayons as an adult with my young son, gave me just as much pleasure as it did when I was a child. I know I would have coloured with my son, but I can’t remember doing it, I just know I did and somewhere along the line I added the Dandelion Yellow into my own childhood memory of colouring and made it my memory. When I was a child it was a big deal to get the 64 box of crayons from Crayolas. It was considered a worthy present, because Crayola crayons were the best you could get. The cheap, no name crayons that most of us made do with, just weren’t that good. The colours were drab, dull, and limited, there wasn’t the gigantic assortment of exotic shades that came in a box of 64 Crayola Crayons.

Still why would I create this bogus memory? As a writer I’m kind of interested in how this happened, but it’s unlikely I’m going to be able to pinpoint the moment that cause this memory. I guess memories are subjective at best and maybe that’s why when 10 people are asked what they saw or remember there is always a vast assortment of conflicting stories. And really maybe our lives are just stories and we’re making it all up as we go along. I kind of like that idea. So maybe the most accurate statement is, “All we have is our stories”. 

Dandelion Greens

As a child my father

Ate Dandelion greens,

Gathered by

His mother,

My grandmother.

Did you like it? I asked

What do you think? He replied.

A backwards custom

From another time

In the old country

Of his childhood.

I was deeply impressed

He survived such a thing.

For my mother,

His wife,

taught only fear

When it came to the

Natural world.

I had tasted the

Bitterness of Dandelion,

When my lips touched

Fingers corrupted

With the milkiness

That seeped from

Snapped stems.

Shamelessly I duped

My brother into

Tasting it too,

Just like the snake

Who tricked Eve.

Why did you do it?

Beseeched God my mother,

Because I could

And because he would,

I replied humbly.

 

Would Emily Dickinson Have blogged?

Would Emily Dickinson have blogged? I thought quite deeply on this question today and came to no meaningful conclusion. It seemed like it would be the ideal thing for someone of her temperament, but would she have done so, if given the opportunity? I could almost imagine her sending emails to the world. Maybe it’s because I’m suffering from a bad cold that my mind was littered with stray thoughts like this all day. I also received a rejection letter for some poems I submitted to a literary magazine. Ah yes, I’m living the dream, I thought bitterly. Then I had a sneezing fit and blew my raw, red nose.

As a last desperate act of procrastination, I decided to check my email before I settled down to the thankless task of writing something no one wants to read and I’m so glad I did, because waiting in my inbox were 6 or 7 new likes and follows from people who enjoyed my posts. It really raised my spirits and I remembered Emily Dickinson and was sorry she didn’t have access to this incredible thing called blogging, when she was alive and struggling with her writing. God, writing is a struggle and chances are most words would never be read, if we had to depend on our work being accepted and published by magazines, publishers, etc… Maybe we don’t deserve to be read some people would argue, but I don’t believe that. I’m so thankful for each and every person who takes the time to read my work and send me a “like” or decides to follow me. Each time I “like” something someone has written or become their follower, I hope that they too are encouraged to keep on writing their blogs. Emily Dickinson had an extensive correspondence with many friends and family. She shared many of her poems in letters, so I guess she did blog in her own way. It’s not the size of the audience, it’s the appreciation of it that matters. I did get some decent writing done today after all.

 

Century Girl

Sometimes inspiration can come from the most unexpected places. On Friday my daughter and I indulged in a pleasant wander through one of the few remaining second hand book stores in our old neighbourhood. I love hunting through second hand book stores and the more chaotic and untidy they are the better, because you tend to stumble upon things you’d never find in an organized, merchandised, box store of books and unrelated stuff for your “lifestyle”. My daughter some how found this great book called “Century Girl, 100 years in the life of Doris Eaton Travis, Last living star of The Ziegfeld Follies” By Lauren Redniss, among all the piles of books and overflowing shelves. It’s such a fun book to read, Because Doris lived not only a long life, but she lived it well. The book is very visually appealing with fabulous pictures and art to support Doris’s story. It’s like a scrapbook, only better. Doris Eaton Travis danced until she was well over one hundred! This inspired me to put on some music and dance too. As a writer it’s very tempting to just sit there and think, which is a pretty important part of the whole process, but there is just as  much thought in movement too. 

I’ve been promising myself that I’d sign up for a tai chi class for years, but I never do. Exercise classes need money which can’t be spared and seem to always happen when I can’t attend them. I’ve always loved to dance and it dawned on me I could dance whenever I wanted. My daughter and I watched  Doris on Youtube kicking up her heels at 100 and 101 years old and she was beautiful to behold. My writing hasn’t been going as well as I’d like lately and bopping around to some crazy music from the 1970′s really lifted my spirits. There never seems to be enough time to do it all these days, but the twenty minutes I danced seemed to loosen the choked feeling of being behind. I’m in the early stages of a bad cold, but even that feels better right now. I discovered I don’t have to sign up for classes to exercise or buy the right “gear”. It can be more than enough to just start dancing in whatever I’m wearing at the moment, because out of this dancing a lot of new things can happen in other aspects of my life. 

 

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