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?
Today on my front doorstep a bundle,
tied in coloured string, wrapped in cellophane,
5 New Yorkers, a Paris Review and
two School Magazines with my poems in,
the Covid backlog I thought would never come.
It felt like all my Xmases had come at once,
enough binge reading to last me till the Big Day.
I was chatting with Worms the other day about Proust,
about his masterpiece, ‘Remembrance of Things Past’
and how neither of us had read it; Worms even found
the name ‘Proust’ intimidating; and I thought how many
of the world’s best known works I have never read,
like Longfellow’s ‘Hiawatha’, Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’,
even Shakespeare’s ‘Titus Andronicus’ and even though
everyone has heard of it, who’s read Dickens’ ‘Little Dorrit’?
There’s even a short story by David Gilbert devoted to
the George Elliot book that no one I know has ever read,
and few have heard of: ‘Adam Bede’. There must be others.
can you think of any?
ave you read any of these books?
* what h
as put you off reading them?
pic of Proust courtesy of Wikipedia
I was reading about Dallas Wiens who, while working inside
an hydraulic arm, brushed against powerlines while painting
a church roof: how God sizzled through him but burnt
his face away; the word ‘debridement’ came up, the practice
of removing dead tissue, fat, muscle so a transplant could take place;
and I thought, hey! isn’t that’s what it’s like when you’re burnt
by fast and furious love? the high voltage thrill and fury that knocks
the heart sideways and scars it till the scorched pieces can be debrided,
a lovely and awesome word that suggests a young bride being ripped
from your side: ‘debrided’ , oh wow!
Looking through the pages of my commonplace book
I paused to take a look at the posts I had copied down
in 2020, the ones that had brought me much pleasure,
that made me pause, take a measure of my life:
here they are without fear or favouritism, in the order
‘Birch’ and ‘Boring’ by Beth
‘Nimmitabel’ and ‘My Suburban Horror Movie’ by Out of the Cave
‘The Old Dog’ and ‘the length some people will go to kill butterflies’ by D R Bogdan
‘How to Survive as a Mental Patient’ and ‘Wait for Me’ by Sarcastic Fringehead
‘Some People are Trees’ by Jewish Young Professional
‘No’ and ‘Monochrome; by Cathy’s Real Country Garden
‘Watching Candles Burn’ and ‘Just Came for the Burger’ by Mark Tulin
“Sweet Sundown’ by Michael Jordahl
‘Carpet of Frosty Leaves’ by Ulle Haddock
‘Testing’ by Hobbo
‘Here I Am’ by Boromax
what were some of your favourites in 2020?
I am reading a short story but it is not making any sense.
Call me ‘old-fashioned’ but I think a story should make sense.
Maybe it’s because it’s told in a goulash of styles.
But the writer is an accomplished writer.
Does that mean I am not an accomplished reader?
Can a writer be over-confident, cocky? If so, can a reader?
Maybe it’s my mindset.
Maybe I should loosen up like good old George, slouch around in the ungrammatic, delve in the demotic, savour the stew
have you read any books or seen any films that made little sense? did you continue with them anyway? what makes an accomplished reader?
I had left President Trump outside.
I don’t know what got into me
but one moment I was reading about him
in a New Yorker article a week before
his fall, and I remembered I had put the oven on
& forgot all about him. The ex-President
was having a hard enough time without being abandoned
on a plastic chair with a cold southerly sweeping in & being compared
to Nixon a week before his fall. How the mighty have fallen, Shelley
might have intoned so I did the decent thing and brought the magazine in
where conditions were more conducive to the ex-President. Besides,
with the hail beginning to clatter outside, I wanted to finish the article.
There was someone sitting at our table. This was the second time in less than a month that this had happened. My friend in the wheelchair was ropable but I suggested, good old level-headed me, that we cool it.
Mind if we sit at our table? I asked.
Be my guest, he said quaffing his ale.
We won’t bother you, I said and then after we got our beers we became companionable.
Our friend introduced himself.
Steve, he said extending his arm for a handshake. I didn’t want to seem prissy and Covidy, so I shook it with all the manliness I could muster. [I go to gym :)]
Unlike our former usurper, the bloke with a book, Steve was not a reader. He was a man of action who spent much of his life as a pneumatic/hydraulic mechanical engineer working in mines throughout Queensland and W.A.
He was a good drinker too, downing four pints to our one. And he was still lucid and like our former companion a Catholic who still attended mass.
How come, I said to my mate after, we always end up with Catholics?
And loners, he said.
Maybe it says more about us than them? I suggested.
“But what I would really like to do now is write children’s book.”
“Like ‘Pollyanna’?” I suggested. “Or ‘Possum Magic?”
“A bit more edgy,” she said, “Like ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, like the poems of Shel Silverstein.”
“What drove you to this.”
“The kids books in doctor’s waiting rooms. I want to throw them in the fish tank. I reckon I could write better than that. I’ve started one already.”
“You have? What’s it about”.
“A lizard. A Gilbert’s Dragon. I’ve called it ‘Gilbert Goes to Hollywood’.I’ve already written the first paragraph. Would you like to hear it?”
” ‘Gilbert had always wanted to go to Hollywood. Ever since he sat on Julian’s lap and watched ‘Godzilla’ on TV. He wanted to be a star. An animal star. The Tom Cruise of lizards.’ “
have you ever wanted to write a children’s book? Have you started one? how does it begin? what’s your favourite children’s book? favourite children’s author?
Tyson was a book worm. He burrowed into books, into their worlds where, if he was allowed, he would wander for hours in their dreamy, eerie landscapes. But he would forget things. He would forget where he left his slippers, his school bag, the present he received from Aunty May [ which wasn’t a book] for his birthday. Honestly, his exasperated mother would say, you’d forget your head if it wasn’t screwed on. How silly, thought Tyson but the next morning when he went to clean his teeth, he looked up. A pair of eyes on stalks starred back at him from the mirror.