I have a very bad feeling.
Tell me I’m wrong.
That I have written myself into obscurity.
That I was too clever by half.
That no one knew what the f*** I was writing about
in the previous post ‘Not a nightingale ode’.
It was a glass of red wine.
But that’s what happens when you put up a post
while you’ve been drinking
while you’ve been rhapsodizing about a glass
of red wine
Do you find that? That you are lying on the bed, buried in a book when suddenly you come across a passage that is so striking, so delightful you must write it down? And then you dash to your laptop and keyboard your excitement so others can read when you post it to your blog? Do you do that?
Here is the passage I found quite early into my voyage of ‘The Last Voyage of Mrs. Henry Parker’: ‘on the shelf above the clothes rail were two identical life jackets lying side by side like a canoodling couple …’ Even more apt when you learn she is waiting for her beloved husband to board.
It was an extra pleasure to be able to GO INTO the library, roam around the new book shelves, and strike up conversation with the librarians whom I had not seen for over seven weeks.
Do you do that? Do you copy out passages? What’s the last book you were really excited about, particularly regarding the quality of writing?
I wasn’t thinking straight.
I wanted an image.
A wonky shopping cart.
But the poem grew too dark, too heavy
way too personal.
I wanted to fictionalize it,
lighten it up.
Then I thought of the pathway
through linear park
with its crazed markings,
the one I had taken a picture of
a year before
the one with the man with the trapezoid head
at its centre.
All I needed was a poem.
He could write it.
It had to be light but still true
to the original concept
of muzzy thoughts.
It went through ten drafts over eight hours
but I got there
& I was amazed how the mind can transmute
into material that almost leaps
off the page.
* picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
And I know there’s a supermoon out tonight
& all i have to do is go out and look
above the treetops
and exclaim, Wow! Wow
& the stone dog will be pissing on the pavers again
& Mad Meg reeling ’round the birdbath freaking out
the other chooks
& the thoughts in my blood skedaddle like a cat
over the page
& I can barely keep up
& I know I’m going to be crucified for what I say
but hey! it’s Easter, the season to be crucified
but a rebirth is coming, a renewal.
I just don’t know what it’s going to look like
on the other side
I like how you can plug a cell phone into a socket
and charge it up within minutes to 100%.
By gum, I wish I could do that as the punch-line
to a well-known joke goes, you know the one
about the dog licking his balls in the corner of the pub
to the amazement of an envious spectator.
you wouldn’t need to sleep six to eight hours to recharge;
it’d be almost instantaneous. There’d be nothing
holding you back; you’d be crackling with energy,
endless energy, the quality Joyce Carol Oates judged
to be the most important for a writer.
Not Research but Energy.
You’d write a book of poems in a day, a novel in a week.
You’d be prolific as Simenon.
Don’t show me the money. Show me the socket. The plug-in
is the money!!
*what do you think the most important quality of a writer is?
do you think Energy plays an important part?
I think of fragile Dennis when someone needles me,
and toughen up.
He let the jibes get to him;
He closed down the fun house of his world view,
changed his clown shoes for cement boots.
He was heavy as Hamlet,
& wouldn’t read his wonderfully quirky poems out any more
because people were telling him,
they were weak.
They were a little childish but
they weren’t weak.
Poets are supposed to care for each other.
I wish some people would close up like zippers.
What seems to be the trouble? he asks .
I cough and splutter all over the place.
He gets the message.
Sits down to write the certificate.
There, he says , handing the form to me . This should do the trick.
I peruse it quickly.
There’s something missing.
You haven’t written down the illness, I say . Why I had time off.
That’s right. If you had Alzheimer’s or a social disease would you want people to know?
My point exactly.
But I thought you had to put something down.
No, he says . And if they ask, tell them to take a running jump . Better still, tell them to phone me and I’ll tell them to take a running jump . Only in stronger terms.
He stands up. Shakes my hand.
The next day at work I hand in the certificate.
The doc’s right .
They see the blank space but no one says a word.
I push it a bit further.
On the official form, the one you fill out yourself, where it says ‘Illness’ I put down ‘See Certificate’ .
It feels good. It really does .
I’ve found a new way to treat with the world.