Fitzgerald ain’t got nothing on Miller: greatest opening lines (and novel) you’ll ever experience.
I haven’t written on this blog in over a month, which is an unfortunate circumstance. The essence of the blog is to chronicle one’s thoughts, so here goes:
Over the past week, I’ve begun to clean out my closet, quite literally. I had several boxes of papers and flash drives stuffed in two closest. The therapeutic purge of the past allowed me to review old poems I’d long forgotten. Unexpectedly, the revisited work conjured a renewal of sorts in the current project I’m working on (a series of poems about the decline and fall of the Man—a historical piece, if one could call it anything).
As I read through my undergrad thesis (dedicated to Dr. Pepper—though I’ve never drunk her), the level of excitement in the work stood out: part Kerouac and part Whitman (I hadn’t really discovered Pound at that point, perhaps only knowing his canonical short pieces). Most of the lines are horrible, cut at random intervals, with no rhythm. Only excitement. To say they convey urgency would be offering too much praise.
The poems did reveal, however, this path upon which to walk with my newest work. A path that simply says, “Do whatever the fuck you want.” When I was in undergrad, the best piece of advice I received was to write the poem knowing you’ll put it in a drawer after completion and not remove it for at least three or four months. I followed that advice. The fresh look usually offered great opportunity for revision. That is, I thought the advice was more geared to the future. What I failed to realize at the time, and what I understand now, was that the advice also helped during the composition of a piece. I wrote without a critical eye. I wrote knowing I’d come back to it, which gave my writing more freedom . . and energy.
If you like to write and don’t do this, which is to say, you write and tinker with your work on a weekly basis, give this a shot: Write the work, and put it in a drawer. Don’t come back to it. Move on. After a month of writing like this, you’ll see a change in the energy in your work (you should; I hope). If nothing else, you’ll work on something other than the crap you’re writing now (because we all know it blows).
We highly recommend you spend some time with this nifty interactive map, which plots Ulysses’s epic ten-year voyage of The Odyssey on a real-life globe, placing the sirens, the cyclops, and the lotus-eaters in a recognizable geographical context.
Things that frustrate me about our American culture #47: Why Kristian Matsson (The Tallest Man on Earth) isn’t considered the Bob Dylan of our generation is beyond me. So for god’s sake, listen!
but the crystal can be weighed in the hand
perhaps if we didn’t begin in a whimsical way,
like two plastic bags thrashing uncontrollably
in the half-acre backyard, tossed against the wind’s invisible walls.
like the logic of a Coltrane solo, maybe: an impromptu
start and a slow fade before the next movement.
i was looking for love. for the sunrise between sex.
and good cigars. or a fine cognac to sip
with a pink peignoir strewn on the floor.
anything, really, that permitted the construction of a
when the winds shift without
a weather vane, we’re helpless to its temperament.
but we waited for dusk in abject anticipation.
we waited for the plastic bags to find their place
against a chain-link fence.
the movement stopped. then
we finally saw the inscription painted
in bright red that said, “thank you,” over and over and over.
the kitchen chalkboard, prepared for the tasting.
it felt safe—unbreakable.
the off-white porcelain mugs clanked against the saucers. the tea was cold. the flavor drowned.
nothing compares to that cigarette; its smoke hard and fast into the lungs on a bitter November eve.
but the jazz still plays. she moans with such duality, like the crush of waves hard—against the cliffs.
crush, like moan, exists in two dimensions: the waking and the sleeping. simultaneously in the dreaming.
she was crushed. yet she asked me to explain why the apples fall in autumn.
in the storm, we don’t wonder anymore what the gods say. we simply take shelter. hide the worried faces as the weather report beams on tv. as the lightning jumps from one cloud to the next—as the thunder barks, most of us dive further inward—to the most inner sanctuary—for safety. are the gods calling us, again? we barely hear them over the tremendous volume of our lives.
in the storm, we miss the way the grass sways. that single blade behind the lamp post, holding it up against the night’s assault. calm strength conveyed louder than the wind beating the awnings.
in the storm, i watched as she cried in mimic motion. and with a snap of thunder, after dreaming and waking, she found new skies to reign her constant cry.
in the storm, she was just a crush.