Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Mahler wrote a lieder about it, a song, the composers wish not to be scrutinized as he wrote his music.  Don't go prying into the hive the look at the bee making honey;  even to the bee the process is a mystery.  Wait for the collection to become honey.

A poem might start as a simple statement.  It is not yet known as a poem, not put into the proper character's voice, yet just a thought.

"Difficult it is, for he who loves words, to love himself."  That might be one such thought.  One always returns to words, the beautiful loving maternal figure who's gentle beauty is contained, spoken of, in lines in all the books upon his shelf.

Is this the essential backdrop of Shakespeare, that love of words, represented in the true loves of his works, that discovery, that seems at odds with practicality, the things one has to do...  finding in it a kind of religious compassion enabled toward self and other beings...

To be worked on...

Monday, May 9, 2016

A lot of this prose was meant in verse.
Fits the old Shakespeare plan,
iambic pentameter,
whatever that is.  It's the way
you write, nail things down,
exercise the spirits. Boom, boom,
boom.
That's how you say the mighty things,
the poetic, of which the writer has
no real control over, but when he
or she, too, is flowing like a dewdrop.
Read it so, that's the structure,
the DNA
of words.


High up in a pine tree, you watched it come about,
the fallen bits on the sidewalk
where the bridge meets that road
to the parkway.  Across from the mosque.
Where you saw the Pope drive by.
A crow builds a nest out of twigs,
like all birds do.  The mind grasps for words,
the same way, a thought, unbidden, uncontrolled,
that comes, like old man Hamlet says
about being confined to fast in fires
in some afterlife 'til sins are burned away
some rich choice of words to suffice.
Let the ear do the work,
and listen.

How can the line, of prose,
be distinct from that of the poem,
of the drama?  Is it how you put it down,
on paper?  Larkin says, writes,
somewhere,
this be verse.

There is no shortage of that,
verse, words, the pithy things a man has to say.
Carved in stone in runes,
they took the trouble,
the circular of life.

But will one be
remembered as a poet,
when things are sifted out.
There is that necessity, of all jobs,
doctor, president, teacher,
to let that poem in,
if things are to be right and strong.

A poem, properly,
is long.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Second draft, attempt at order

It was a quick trip, from Washington to Chapel Hill.  Coming back, down the last rise, the form of the Pentagon came into view and beyond the flat landscape of Washington low and spread-out.

At last I was dropped off on the green tunnel of the street with the bank of earth and trees, white daffodils, and came in with my backpack, shopping bag, wardrobe, and calmed as best I could after the gauntlet of 95 coming up from the South in later rush hour.

We'd listened to a podcast on the drive back, a Ted talk, about creativity; Sting finding the creative voice again back where he came from, inhabiting the locals, speaking in their dialect; Elizabeth Gilbert speaking of the presence of fear when she sits down to write; a Johns Hopkins scientist mapping the brain activity of jazz musicians, scanned while improvising, the necessary shutting down of the cautious editing part of the brain that allows creativity, a British educator on how a system put in place in the Industrial Revolution breaks the natural creativity of children.

Then another podcast, about the healing of plant spirits.

I roused myself from the couch to go find a rotisserie chicken, and the town seemed again full of people adapted to the vast sprawl, doing forms of worldly good.  I feel foreign here, inhabiting that part of the brain my father told me so often of, the liberal arts brain, the creative, the dreamer, the ones who studies plants as they are, a representation of That Which Is, of the spiritual beyond, rather than getting down to little lessons of DNA and manipulation of genes...

I write for the therapeutic aspects of the process, which includes the beginning, the waking from dreams raw of meaning, the gathering, the trying out of each thought line, whether to share or not, then to the awkward sitting down and trying to construct some form of rough narrative.  Then later there will be the reflection, the quiet satisfaction of having written, a vague sense of having, much like sitting in a garden, contacted some form, as one says, of That Which Is, that distant spiritual realm.  And that of course is not necessarily what a present economy wants or has created in response to its own perceived conditions and the general economic needs, out of competition, out of focussing on things that bring in their view the jobs that make the whole thing run, whether or not such things are sustainable as far as the planet.

Later Ted Hughes poems, from The Birthday Letters sequence, speak of how 'the marriage had failed.'  Poems born in nature, the Hughes style, I wonder if he isn't referring to a more encompassing failure than that which is personal and felt so personally.  The poems bear up against the broader, the coinciding failure of ours to live within the natural harmony of nature, taking as an example the lies of fracking, environmental disaster, the detriment to public health and well fare.

The old land grant universities, instituted by the administration of Abraham Lincoln, seem to catch some model of sustainability in their campuses, though the rest is a mystery to us, their purpose, their own economic fit, the education they stand for...


I write as a from of self-healing.  I write for no economic reason.  I write in order to possibly grasp what next there is to write about.  I write to understand the past, to hope for a future I have little clear idea of.  Grocery lists of thoughts, laundry detergent, apple juice, green vegetable, dental floss, shaving cream, go take a walk in the woods for mild exercise, call your mom.

What have I done, so foolishly and self-deprecatingly, cast into the restaurant dungeon, no longer taken as a scholar...  Why do I write?  For literature?  For sanity?  To move forward?

What do writers do, but fail?  Emily knew that.  The general consciousness is not ready, not there yet, for them, for their way of communication.  Almost by definition, the form and the words they have for us are experiment, not fitting the set pattern, the usual conversation.


I'd strolled around, taken some pictures, sat, and wrote just a few lines in my notepad, in the North Carolina Botanic Garden and Arboretum,  Six O'Clock evening late April sunshine, walked back to the hotel through the Chapel Hill campus the day before, making some subconscious appeal to the trees and the vegetation, then a quick stop into the Ackerman art museum.

Walking the paths of the North Carolina Botanic Garden and Coker Arboretum, looking at plants and trees and shrubs, walking gentle paths there on the Chapel Hill Campus, I remembered talks with my father on the nature of liberal arts.  Liberal arts exists for its own sake, for allowing humanity to be in touch with its dreams, for setting an atmosphere that allows for the expansion and sharing of knowledge.  As Keats wrote somewhere, education is imagining what one already knows.  Little does this has to do with the economy, with the improvement of plastics to make a better bomber or a better widget.  This is exactly what the reviewer of the book I wrote utterly misunderstood, being foreign to that calling of liberal arts.

In his own day my father, the old school botanist, saw the rapid growth of the microbiology parts of biology departments.  And as he watched the renovation of the science building where his office was in the latter part of his career, he commented how the undergraduate was aimed toward specific technical skills, things I would imagine like the manipulation and reading of DNA strands.   Rather than the skills of walking in the forest or appreciating the garden, the arboretum, the lives and forms and species and taxonomy and history of plants.  The technician is built for the machine, to serve it.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

It was a quick trip, from Washington to Chapel Hill.  Coming back, down the last rise, the form of the Pentagon came into view and beyond the flat landscape of Washington low and spread-out.

I'd strolled around, taken some pictures, sat, and wrote just a few lines in my notepad, in the North Carolina Botanic Garden and Arboretum,  six o'clock evening late April sunshine, walked back to the hotel through the Chapel Hill campus the day before, making some subconscious appeal to the trees and the vegetation.

At last I was dropped off on the green tunnel of the street with the bank of earth and trees, white daffodils, and came in with my backpack, shopping bag, wardrobe, and calmed as best I could after the gauntlet of 95 coming up from the South in later rush hour.

We'd listened to a podcast, a Ted talk, about creativity, Sting finding the creative voice again back where he came from, inhabiting the locals, speaking in their dialog, Elizabeth Gilbert speaking of the presence of fear when she sits down to write, a Johns Hopkins scientist mapping the brain activity of jazz musicians, scanned while improvising, the necessary shutting down of the cautious editing part of the brain that allows creativity, a British educator on how a system put in place in the Industrial Revolution breaks the natural creativity of children...

Then another podcast, about the healing of plant spirits...

I roused myself from the couch to go find a rotisserie chicken, and the town seemed again full of people adapted to the vast sprawl, doing good, they are, but not inhabiting that part of the brain my father told me so often of, the liberal arts brain, the creative, the dreamer, the ones who study plants as they are, a representation of That Which Is, of the spiritual, rather than getting down to little lessons of DNA and manipulation of genes...

I write for the therapeutic aspects of the process, which includes the beginning, the waking from dreams raw of meaning, the gathering, the trying out of each thought line, whether to share or not, then to the awkward sitting down and trying to construct some form of rough narrative.  Then later there will be the reflection, the quiet satisfaction of having written, a vague sense of having, much like sitting in a garden, contacted some form of That Which Is, the spiritual realm, that which is not necessarily what a present economy has created in response to its own perceived conditions and the general economic needs, out of competition, out of focussing on things that bring in their view the jobs that make the whole thing run, whether or not such things are sustainable as far as the planet.

Later Ted Hughes poems, from The Birthday Letters sequence, speak of how 'the marriage had failed.'  Poems born in nature, the Hughes style, I wonder if he isn't referring to a more encompassing failure than that which is personal and felt so personally.  The poems bear up against the broader, the coinciding failure of ours to live within the natural harmony of nature, taking as an example the lies of fracking, environmental disaster, the detriment to public health and well fare.

The old land grant universities, instituted by the administration of Abraham Lincoln, seem to catch some model of sustainability in their campuses, though the rest is a mystery to us, their purpose, their own economic fit, the education they stand for...

I write as a from of self-healing.  I write for no economic reason.  I write in order to possibly grasp what next there is to write about.  I write to understand the past, to hope for a future I have little clear idea of.  Grocery lists of thoughts, laundry detergent, apple juice, green vegetable, dental floss, shaving cream, go take a walk in the woods for mild exercise, call your mom.

What have I done, so foolishly and self-deprecatingly, cast into the restaurant dungeon, no longer taken as a scholar...  Why do I write?  For literature?  For sanity?  To move forward?

What do writers do, but fail?  Emily knew that.  The general consciousness is not ready, not there yet, for them, for their way of communication.


Strolling in the North Carolina Botanic Garden Coker Arboretum, looking at plants and trees and shrubs, walking gentle paths there on the Chapel Hill Campus, I remembered talks with my father on the nature of liberal arts.  Liberal arts exists for its own sake, for allowing humanity to be in touch with its dreams, for setting an atmosphere that allows for the expansion and sharing of knowledge.  As Keats wrote somewhere, education is imagining what one already knows.  Little does this has to do with the economy, with the improvement of plastics to make a better bomber, or a better widget.  This is exactly what the reviewer of the book I wrote utterly misunderstood, being foreign to that calling of liberal arts.

In his own day my father, the old school botanist, saw the rapid growth of the microbiology parts of biology departments.  And as he watched the renovation of the science building where his office was in the latter part of his career, he commented how the undergraduate was aimed toward specific technical skills, things I would imagine like the manipulation and reading of DNA strands.   Rather than the skills of walking in the forest or appreciating the garden, the arboretum, the lives of plants.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The kitchen has closed, at 9:30, and as a final act has sent up the light dinner as the jazz trio has ordered, given a twenty dollar allowance.  They will be done at ten and the bartender is looking forward to that milestone of the evening.  But, wait, oh, here they come, at 9:45, I hear them coming up the stairs, and then moving in on the bar, calling the bartender's name, as if he was expected to be excited and happy that here they are at the very end of the evening with the restaurant about to pack up and go home.  A Glenlivet on the rocks for the youngest, and two Malbecs, one for the very same guy who kept me an hour later than I needed to be the night before with one of his friends, people I happen to enjoy.  "I'm cleaning up, and I'm going home."

The trio has played Brazilian music, bossa nova, and when they are finished, packing up their instruments, I put the music back on, on the mini iPad Pandora station, Joabim, something that matches, soothing, quiet, like I would imagine taking out a broom and finally sweeping up.  Tall has brought in Beats headphones, wireless, white, and guy who extends my night says, out loud, "I want to hear some good music." He puts on headphones, and soon is singing along, loudly, as people do when wearing headphones, particularly when intoxicated, "there's a fire in my ass."  That is the song lyric, apparently.  Headphones are removed.  Guy tries to share them with me, no thanks.  The girls giggle.  There's talk, of wet undergarments.  "My xxx isn't big," he says.  One of the females, knowing he's being inappropriate, hushes him, in the way that is encouragement to the intoxicated.

Okay, fine, toleration.  Don't take it personally.  I've eyed a glass of wine I might want to grab, to say, 'that's it, I'm not serving you anymore.'    Ah, well, such is life.  That's how it goes.  Maybe you don't like your job so much, for various reasons.

The singer of the trio comes up to the bar.  "Hey, why don't you have the X club here, forty or fifty people to hear (her) sing..."  I don't express much enthusiasm.    Send an email.

Later, guy sort of pulls me aside.  "You have a poor business sense.  You said no, {and now the offer appears to be off the table, because of me}.  And worse, you've hurt (the singer) because you've taken away the possibility of her being supported by (her group of peers.)"  He looks at me.  Shrugging, his pocket square... well-dressed.  I like the guy.  Very much in many ways.  "We'll still continue to come here...  (but, we find this place very disappointing, and it's your fault and the fault of your poor business sense.)"

The waiter, whose shift I covered with no prior warning, so he could go to his own bachelor party, really important, dude, thanks a lot, I allowed to get out of my hair around kitchen's closing.


The White Goddess is far away.   Forgotten.  The ritual of finding Her disrupted.

I read of how Ted Hughes brought trout up to Sylvia Plath, cooked for her over the fireplace.



The now old green bike, a 1998 Bianchi Veloce, the last year the frame was made with lugs, the graceful connecting brackets where the down tube, the seat tube and the bottom bracket in a triangle, now sported a modest light plastic battery powered tail lamp and a similar mini-powerful flash light.  A graceful bicycle, implying speed and motion, a beautiful object, ridden often to work and back.
The end of the week.  Five shifts, the closer every night, over.  There's the sense of shame I feel, and I do yoga in order to clear myself from it.  When, where, did the sense of shame enter in?   I put the review of my book by Kirkus Indie on my FB page.  It's not a particularly flattering review, though it could be worse.

Are you to be ashamed of what you wrote?  If you do feel that way you're only more likely to feel more shame, and continue with shameful things, and never get out of the perverse cycle.  You'll start to feel bad about yourself, bad about almost everything, and that's not good.

So, in order to exorcise the shame, you have to come out as a writer.  You're your own kind of writer, like Emily Dickinson, like Melville was.  You have to admit you're not perfect, but that you made an effort, and that it is the effort which counts.  You wrote a book.

That's what you always battle, the feeling of shame.  It takes your mom sometimes to tell you that you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.  And that helps.

The spiritual, the sexual, the physical, the intellectual, all part of the forces to harness and use to be in the world and to help it.  I feel off balance when I get through the workweek, mine, such as it is.  I tend to feel that sense of shame, even though I know I've been good to people, helped them through their week.  But maybe I've put too much of my energies into it, not a balance of them.  I've hustled like a lackey.  I've hidden much of my native intelligence, listened politely, as if there were little room for me and my own thoughts there at my place of work.  I have to be too agreeable, put up with too much.  Or I simply don't know where work ends and I begin, and through long habit I give in and blend in, all too well, who's to say.  It all can seem fine going through it all, perhaps a little extreme, strange, an odd thing, leaving one alone all by himself turning the restaurant's lights out once again, once again.  One can be too much a gentleman in such a line of work.

So you do yoga, as if to clean yourself out.  Meditate, and listen to chakra balancing music.  I've done my headstand, lotus, warrior, down dog, shoulder stand, plow.

The shame of working, or not working, the night shifts, that shame doesn't help me overcome them.

That's the vulnerability, feeling ashamed.  That's where the unhappiness began.  It hurts to think about it, but maybe that's the psychological point I had to realize to overcome, the feeling of shame leading to feel ashamed.

And then, after the depression, you finally get around to shoring up those boundaries, reestablishing the self, the writer, who you are, and often times that sort of a thing is only allowed on the last of the three-day weekend.  Five times closing...  Just getting groceries is hard enough.  Still your day starts with someone trying to call you in, which goes a long way to ruining the sanctity of that day.

It is the writing itself which gets you past that, as walks in the woods help, as yoga and exercise and quiet seems to help.  Space.  The space to write those crucial few sentences that lead to other ones, that shouldn't be scrapped even if they are just notes and scribbles, jottings hopeful for resolution, as they are guides in the dark place, in the Dante dark forest in which one is lost, beams of light pointing somewhere.



The worst thing you can do to a young developing person is make them feel ashamed of themselves when they are in that phase of discovery and experimentation, trial and error.  That's what education is about, protecting the individual.

Feeling a sense of shame, one retreats into the nighttime.  And then, following that is there something of Jonah in that, the knowledge that one is trying to hide from God himself?  Feeling ashamed is no way to live.

When people say hurtful things, of course we react and internalize.  It's human nature.  Of course people are vulnerable.  Is it their fault if they react?  We are vulnerable creatures who can be easily hurt.  Thankfully we are also made strong and resourceful.