Rusty

When I was a kid in High School we learnt things ‘off by heart’:

poems by Keats and Coleridge, extracts from ‘The Ancient Mariner’,

soliloquies from ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Macbeth’, whole passages from Dickens;

chronologies of The Persian Wars, War of the Roses,

biographies of the Tudors; not neglecting the sciences, we memorized

physics and maths formulas,chemical equations, and slabs from The New Testament —

we were walking Wikipedias; now I’m a big kid, into my senior years,

I’ve grown rusty, which is why I’m in the backyard walking up and down —-

the bees must think I’m mad —- learning by heart my NEW mobile number

which everyone but me knows





  • what things did you learn ‘off by heart’?
  • do you still remember them ?

How Many of These Have You Read?

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?

* have you read any of these books?

* what has put you off reading them?

pic of Proust courtesy of Wikipedia

Slouch

I don’t like the way the branches slouch,

my grandfather would have said.

It shows a lack of moral fibre.

Grandfather did not approve of droop

though I think he could have cut the branches

some slack.

The best people slouch at times.

Oscar Wilde certainly did though he was no slouch.

And Tilda Swinton and Anne Hathaway were spotted

slouching at the Golden Globes.

I like the way Fridays slouch towards the weekend.
Poems should slouch a little too.

They should not appear cinched and pained

as if wearing a tight pair of underpants.

pic courtesy of Wikipedia

Prickly

I wasn’t going to wear it. ‘A hoodie is not a cardigan’, I said.

‘Anything that does up at the front is a cardigan’, he insisted.

‘A flack jacket does up at the front; is that a cardigan?’ I said.





We were off and running like the cabbie who couldn’t get us

to the venue fast enough. And then he started on my silver hammer,

why I used the word ‘silver’ when the important word was ‘hammer’.





I could have hit him over the head. And then he said I was embellishing

the tale. ‘I’m a writer’ I pronounced from the saddle of my high horse.

‘It’s the writer’s prerogative to embellish,’





‘You call yourself a writer,’ he said. ‘Your poetry doesn’t even rhyme.’

Now I admit calling him a ‘Neanderthal’ didn’t help matters.

But it’s not just writers who are prickly.

The Ninth Crypt

I am about to read a book called ‘The Ninth Crypt’,

A novel I acquired for twenty dollars at the supermarket

But fear I may have made a grave mistake:

Browsing through the blurb I see mention of only

The ninth crypt, all well and good, but what about

The other eight? Perhaps the author is planning prequels

Based on the success of this volume but seeing he is

Now a septuagenarian who came to writing late,

This is most unlikely; perhaps if I bury myself deeply

in the text I shall disinter enough cryptic clues

To keep me happy — but at 800 pages !!! I await

Clarification; in the meantime this tombstone of a novel

Shall stand on my shelf of great unread books.





  • have you got any big unread books on your bookshelf?
  • photo by Grangeburn on Pinterest

The Third Sentence

Many creative writing classes and manuals will stress the importance of the first sentence, that it must grab the reader’s attention. Even Hemingway espoused this fallacy. But the first sentence is never enough.

Yes, it must grab the reader’s attention, If it doesn’t the reader will go elsewhere. There are plenty of options — but if the second sentence is flaccid, all will be lost. The second sentence fulfills the promise of the first.

But it is the third sentence that seals the deal. The third sentence assures the reader that the writer is authentic, that they are worth listening to, that they have something to say and have the command of language to say it with flair and authority. They can be trusted.

After that the writer will be ‘in full swing’. The reader will be committed;  will go along for the ride.  

Balzakian

Not cinched

cloistered

coffined

poems

but big

blubbery

Balzakian

bursting with life

Rubenesque

with rotundity

doorstoppers

of poems

life spilling out

of them

like clothes from a suitcase

clowns out

of a jalopy

All Those Posts … And No Novel

Just think.

500 posts in three years.

I could have written a novel

or short story collection

or that non-fiction book I was always going to write

about the life and death

of board games

or as my grandkids call them

‘bored games’.

Did I choose the form or did the form choose me?

I could be hard on myself

for lacking focus, not chaining myself to my chair.

I would like to be a great writer like David Foster Wallace

but I don’t have the constitution for it.

Besides I don’t look good in a bandana.

A Children’s Picture Story Book

that’s what I’ve always wanted to do.

I’m a lover of the short form.

Posts.
They’re my thing.

Unwrapping them each morning. People unwrapping mine.

There is joy there.

Meaning.

And who is to say one form is superior to another?

*what do you think?

Goulash

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?

Seek and Ye Shall Find?

.

I’d been looking for a career back in the late sixties but it found me.

I went looking for God for a few years in the early seventies but found what I really wanted was to have kids so God went out the window.

I had another shot at finding God or Transcendence a little later on but ended up in a cult so I had to get out but I found Rhonda who was very spiritual and inspirational. I used to say to her, ‘Help Me Rhonda’ and she would smile and help me anyway.

For a few years from 2010 everyone went looking for Bin Laden. I would track all over the streets of Adelaide because Adelaide would be a perfect place to hide. I mean who would think of looking for him there?

Then I went looking for Milton but I found him.

I know a journalist who was sent to write an article for a top American magazine on J D Salinger who proved elusive as God but he wrote the article anyway on NOT finding J D Salinger and still got it published.

Lately I’ve been searching for Equanimity but that’s harder to find, except in snatches, as Bin Laden or J D Salinger.