Why don’t you write your own stuff?
But I do, I answered. You know I do.
Then why this?
How do you explain the notion of a commonplace book to a non-writer?
For inspiration, I say, For enjoyment, the way people flicker through old photo albums
or their smart phone galleries.
But it wasn’t quite like that.
It was modeling too,
getting the feel for writing at the top of its game, to remind you how it’s done,
for quotes like this: ‘I don’t believe in writer’s block … plumbers don’t get plumber’s block,
doctors don’t get doctor’s block.
Why should writers be any different and then expect sympathy for it?’
[ Philip Pullman]
But she didn’t get it.
You’ve got heaps of these notebooks in your cupboard, she said. What is wrong with you?
Have you no faith in yourself?
There was no point in arguing.
But when she came upon me ‘copying’ I would flinch as if caught in some shameful act.
Last night was brutal.
We fought like Godzilla vs Kong.
Boxers slugging it out in the ring.
Cage fighters gouging and kicking.
Oooops. Is that an eyeball in my hand?
We were earnest. Furious.
Mean as gorillas. Cut-throat as pirates.
In the end we smoked the peacepipe.
What was that all about? she asked..
I don’t know, I said.
Look, next time, can we please agree what we’re fighting about?
- pic courtesy of maxsportstz.blogspot.com
like the poem
the dreamy bus driver wrote
while idling at stop lights
or picking up passengers
the one about Ohio Blue Tip matches
in their sturdy little boxes
‘so sober and furious, ready to burst into flame’
as crafted as those of his hero
William Carlos Williams
the doctor who lived a few streets down
who wrote that famous poem
the red wheelbarrow glazed with rain
And me realizing you can write poems
about almost anything
even a red pencil sharpener
a bowl of berries with a barrowful of dreams
and finding out
that’s where Lou Costello came from too
Paterson, New Jersey.
There’s even a park named after him,
Lou Costello the chubby comedian who played alongside Bud Abbot,
the straight guy.
I used to watch those guys in the fun-house
Of the fifties,
frolicking with Frankenstein and The Wolf man.
But it was Lou Costello
The funny little fat guy
And that’s where he came from,
Paterson, New Jersey.
Every time I go to a family gathering and there’s new faces
in the crowd
I’m expected to trot out a few
of my crazy stories
like the time I was struck blind at midday;
but it’s early in the evening
& the crowd
isn’t well oiled
& you have to go in cold.
You feel like calling out, Where’s the Warm-Up Act
to make folks loose & jiggly.
Every comedian needs a warm-up act.
It’s a tough gig working a group that’s cold.
No one should be asked that.
Even the Warm-Up needs a Warm-Up.
She’s not coming, mate.
Sure she is. If not today, then tomorrow.
Your flowers are beginning to wilt.
I can get new ones.
There’s a party under the bridge tonight. You coming?
You go. Have a good time. I’ll be here. You never know, she might ….
Nah, mate. She won’t. Don’t wilt, you hear. Just don’t wilt.
I’m good at last lines. I really am.
The rest of my poems are crap but my last lines
Are really something.
I’m thinking of bringing out a book called ‘My Fifty Best Last Lines’.
The trouble is it’d be like bringing out a book of punch lines without the jokes.
‘By gum, I wish I could do that’ or ‘It’s okay for you two. I have to walk out by myself’ fall a bit flat without the jokes attached.
I suppose I could make the rest of the poems as good as the last lines but it’s a pretty big ask.
Now I can’t even get a good last line to this poem.
I have been called an ostrich for burying my head in the sand,
a mole for burrowing down to my zone of creativity,
a creepy lizard by a former girlfriend,
a snail for withdrawing inside my shell when I watch TV,
but best of all a bear, Johnny Bear, a much loved character
from my partner’s childhood, who lived with Grump, his mother
in Yellowstone Park in the book by Ernest Thompson Seton
which I am now devouring like the bookworm I am.
*which animals have you sometimes been compared to?
Why do people I hang out with
all have perfect marriages?
No fall outs.
Just Bill & Coo.
Sweethearts of the Rodeo.
Never a false step.
Never foot in the mouth.
How do they do it?
As soon as you stand outside someone’s place,
whip out your mobile camera and start taking snaps
of something in the street,
jacaranda flowers, for instance, carpeting the verge,
an ibis making love to a TV aerial,
a drunken, tilting fence,
someone starts singing loudly in a bathroom.
conversations break out in the hallway like a rash.
windows open or close,
to let you know they’re onto you
when all you’re doing is trying to compose a poem.
When did people start growing so suspicious of poets?