“My thoughts are an ocean, they wash woefully up against their limits.” ~ Nescio, Amsterdam Stories

Hot Air Balloon Sunset by alwyncooper (FCC)

                   

“The earth splits open under our feet, and above our heads there is an infinite abyss. I no longer know who we are, nor what awaits us.” ~ Simone de Beauvoir, from The Mandarins

Wednesday evening. Overcast, pending storms, dropping temperatures.

Well, I finally got the invitations printed and mailed. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Setting up the invitations was easy as they came with an online template; however, there was no template for the envelope, so that was a bit of trial and error. Still, no worries . . . right?

Wrong.

Hot Air Balloon, Utah, by ricketyus (FCC)

Print cartridges arrived on Friday evening. Test envelopes printed just fine. Real envelopes, not so much. Paper jam. And with this printer a paper jam can only be cleared by unplugging, deleting the printer, reinstalling . . . Who knew? Certainly not me? I never dreamt that there wasn’t a reset button on the printer. This was Saturday.

On Sunday, Mother’s Day, my day of planned reading and resting? Decided to try again. More begging and pleading of the inanimate object that was ruling my life. Finally decided to print addresses on clear mailing labels and skip trying to send the envelopes through the printer, especially as I had no extras.

On Monday everything looked like a go. Print properties set up correctly. Just a matter of feeding the invitations into the printer. Then the printer decided to stop accepting the invitation stock. This after it had printed about eight of them. Then no more. Not. Another. One. Reset, reboot, begging and pleading, all to no avail. I walked away. Played a little Spider Solitaire. Then got a brainstorm: Why not use the extra printer that Brett’s dad had given him. Got ready to go, only to discover that a) could not download drivers, and b) it’s a photo printer.

Finally I decided to use the copy function to get the text onto the invitations, which didn’t need any drivers. Luckily I had a good template from my test runs. Situated it on the scanner bed, and ran color copies. Unfortunately, as I was home by myself I had to get on my hands and knees to unplug old dysfunctional printer to plug in new/used photo printer. Nothing should be this hard.

“nothing can be taken back,
not the leaves by the trees, the rain
by the clouds.” ~ Dean Young, from “Poem Without Forgiveness”

Hot Air Balloon, Latvia, by Dainis Matisons (FCC)

Took those suckers to the post office yesterday and sent them off. I never even made it out of my pajamas yesterday. Good thing I didn’t get stopped on the way to the post office, but at that point, I did not care. I just wanted the invitations out of my house, out of my sight. (By the way, the poets stamps that I had wanted to use? No one has them. Apparently, they did not sell well in this area. Phht. Talk about your unwashed masses.)

So today Brett and I helped Alexis to transport the gifts that she received from her first shower to my mother’s house as Alexis has no storage space. I threw on some shorts and a workout top, put my hair in a ponytail, didn’t take a shower as I knew that I would be grungy by the time we finished. The first thing my mother says when I get out of the car? “What in the world is she wearing? What in the world is that?” (My mom’s a what-in-the-world person. Uses it as her standby modifier)

Sorry. Didn’t know that I needed real clothes to move stuff. Next time I’ll remember . . .

And you wonder why I have such a crappy self-image . Again with the phht.

“I hadn’t gotten old enough yet to realize that living sends a person not into the future but back into the past, to childhood and before birth, finally, to commune with the dead. You get older . . . and then before you know it you’re time-traveling. In this life we grow backwards.” ~ Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex

The stress from four days of trying to execute a project that should have taken a couple of hours at the most has taken its toll. The night before last I didn’t get to sleep until 4 a.m., and last night was 2 a.m., which means backsliding on my goal of 1 a.m. at the latest. Oh well. Couldn’t be helped. We won’t discuss the massive muscle knot between my shoulder blades. What’s the point?

16th Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta by ricky_artigas (FCC)

So I brought home the newborn and three-month sizes of clothes to wash for Alexis. She really got some cute clothes, and probably enough so that le bébé can wear a different outfit each day for the next six months. I remember with Alexis that I didn’t buy her any clothes for the first year. I never had to, between my mom and my m-in-law, she was outfitted quite well. In fact, the woman who watched her while I was at work asked me if I could please not dress Alexis in such nice clothes when I brought her for the day. I had to explain that all she had were nice clothes.

Of course my mom had to comment that Alexis got entirely too many clothes for the baby, and that it was “ridiculous.” It’s not like the clothes are going to waste, and I’m certain that they’ll be recycled along the way among all of the friends that she has.

It was funny though, while we were at my mom’s house, Alexis said under her breath, “Boy, she doesn’t even give you room to breathe, does she?” Which is so true. I knew that mom would have to pick up each item of clothing and comment on it, so we went over there with a schedule—I couldn’t stay for hours and hours because I needed to take Brett to school. Still, I know that in spite of her running commentary that my mom is just excited. Don’t think that I don’t understand, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t bitch about it any more than my mother wouldn’t be herself if she didn’t have several negative things to say.

Family dynamics . . . oi.

“The medicine of words—medicina verbi. ~ Anna Kamienska, from “A Nest of Quiet: A Notebook”

Hot Air Balloon, Wyoming, by carolynconner (FCC)

Since I first began this post, two storms have rolled through, which has really helped the humidity. I feel as though I spend half of my day wiping my face—things you don’t realize about getting older. I mean, I never used to sweat. Just didn’t do it. Never had to worry about my makeup running (when I wore it on a regular basis), never really worried about wet underarms (well, that still is true).

But this constant facial sweat? What is this? Where did it come from? I wonder if this happens to all Filipina women as they get older. These days I’m not around any so that I can ask.

But all of these things you really don’t think about when you’re in your twenties or even thirties: inconvenient sweating, putting on moisturizer only to have it run in your eyes, being unable to find your glasses without your glasses (actually, that’s always been true for very nearsighted me). This aging crap is, well, crap. I don’t want to be the person that I was along with all of the incumbent short-sightedness (not vision), but then again, I’m not entirely certain that I want to be this person either.

“It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.” ~ Billy Collins, from “Litany”

So all is quiet. Eamonn is at his girlfriend’s house. Brett is at school until 9 p.m. (summer school started this week). The dogs are asleep. The laundry is going.

Hot Air Balloons, Arizona, by D Guisinger (FCC)

I cannot believe that it’s midweek already. The past few days have really run together because of the invitation fiasco. I hate it when that happens, when I just lose days. I mean, I have a hard enough time keeping my tenuous grip on reality without brutal reality rearing its ugly head.

I’ll tell you what, though. I’m finding comfort in the following: Milkshakes are half price at Sonic after 8 p.m.

Yep. I’m going there, figuratively and literally. After all of this crap, and especially after my mother’s assessment of my wardrobe, I’m going to have a milkshake. I figure if that’s my dinner, then it’s a fair calorie exchange. No, it’s not healthy. No, it goes against my whole no sugar regimen. But I’m not telling anyone, and neither are you.

More later. Peace.

Music by Dum Dum Girls, “Coming Down”

                   

Tag (part one)

THIS

Insatiable April, trees in place,
in their scraped-out place,
their standing.
Standing way.
Their red branch areas,
green shoot areas (shock),
river, that one.
I surprised a goose and she hissed.
I walk and walk with cold hands.
Back at the house it is filled with longing,
nothing to carry longing away.
I look back over my life.
I try to find analogies.
There are none.
I have longed for people before, I have loved people before.
Not like this.
It was not this.

Give me a world, you have taken the world I was.

~ Anne Carson

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“How I dreaded the white page I had to foul with ink!” ~ George Gissing

Husum Falls on White Salmon River, USFWS

                   

“May one day
soon someone pull us out into the rain
where all that vanished becomes legible again
and all we’ve struggled to decipher fades away at last.” ~ Dean Young, from “Disappearing Ink”

Wednesday afternoon. Rainy.

A very bad night for my body. I haven’t felt this kind of relentless pain in a while, and I’m not used to it, which means that I’m noticing it more than usual. Let me put it this way—those stupid smiley charts the nurses show you to ask for your level of pain, 1 through 10, with 10 being the worst? I’m never, ever at a zero. Never. Not exaggerating here. At a minimum, I exist somewhere between a 3 and 4, so I’m used to that, can handle that. But this? This is hovering at a 6 with spikes to a 7 or 8. Haven’t been in this state for years. Not used to this any more.

American Goldfinch, USFWS

C’est la vie . . .

I love the rain, love the sound of it, love to hear the songbirds who continue to sing during a spring rainstorm, but hate the muddy paws and how the rain brings out the dog smell in the house. I know that once we tear up the old carpeting in the living and dining rooms and refinish the floors that the old dog smell will pretty much go away, but for now, it’s an omnipresent reminder of wet dog . . .

Speaking of birds, I bought myself a bird feeder several weeks ago, just something simple, not the cedar one that I’m really hankering for, but it’s nice for now. I hung it on a shepherd’s crook on the corner of the porch so that I can see the birds. The biggest problem is that it’s not high enough, so it’s not attracting a lot of birds. But today I saw a goldfinch. How spectacular. I used to have a thistle feeder just for the goldfinches. If we ever build the overhang on the back patio, I’m going to have my different feeders again, one for thistle, one for sunflower seed, and one for mixed feed.

If ever . . .

“Once it happened, as I lay awake at night, that I suddenly spoke in verses, in verses so beautiful and strange that I did not venture to think of writing them down, and then in the morning they vanished; and yet they lay hidden within me like the hard kernel within an old brittle husk.” ~ Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf (trans. Basil Creighton)

This is the second quote that I’ve used in as many days that has included the word husk. Just commenting.

Laysan Albatross over Water, USFWS

Somehow this spring I managed to let my lilac bush come into bloom and wither without ever noticing. I absolutely hate that. I love fresh lilacs, love to put them in cups around the house, but not this year, I suppose. My peonies are blooming, and their tissue petals are so fragrant. I have them in the living room, bathroom, and our bedroom. Unfortunately, they are not fragrant enough to overpower the dog smell . . .

Last night I had a mucho strange dream: I was back in the apartment that frequents my dreams. I had moved back into it after my ex had vacated it. Not sure of the circumstances that caused the situation. I was wandering around the apartment, and I began to notice all of these incredible details: There was this beautiful tile work in the kitchen, completely covering one wall; a claw-footed tub was sitting along the wall in the kitchen. A little nook off the kitchen housed a beautiful wooden desk with lots of cubbies. And my reaction was to be extremely put out, as in how could he do all of this beautiful work here and never lift a hand in our house?

Then I found out (and this is extremely weird) that the apartment had been used for major parties, the sketchy kind. I found a wardrobe filled with tacky formal dresses for women. The wardrobe was behind an old refrigerator. In the midst of this, I couldn’t find any of my coffee mugs, and I realized that I didn’t have any dog food for the puppy. My mother was there, as was a friend of hers who is quite ill, and a neighbor to whom I had lent a copy of  The Count of Monte Cristo. This neighbor does not exist, but in the dream she had a pet owl that turned bright green when she stroked his feathers . . .

“Writing is a form of therapy. Sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human situation.” ~ Graham Greene

So, bad news. Remember when Corey was sent home from Lithuania, and he had found out all of those things about the company? He had decided to ignore the rumors and throw his lot in with them, and I agreed that it was a good decision. Well . . . pretty reliable rumblings that the company is in financial trouble. They’ve sold their Pacific ship, and their other ship is in the yard—again, which leaves the ship that Corey is on and a tugboat. And as I’ve said, the one that he’s on needs work. Do the math—they aren’t making any money.

Spring Sunset at Ridgefield, USFWS

I’m trying not to fret too much over this news, but damn, can we get a break here? Corey is working, making good money, had planned to stay with this company to get some deep-sea time so that he could go for his third mate’s license on a big ship . . . The best laid plans of mice and men? Is that what this is?

Fate is fickle. Life is a no-holds barred free-for-all cage match with no rules, no set round times, and absolutely no referees. Corey and I are tag teaming against André the Giant at his optimum (yes, I know he’s dead, but you get the point). And yes, this metaphor is stupid, but so is what’s going on. But even though everything feels like those bad dreams in which it is impossible to wake oneself, I refuse to give in.

Sounds bold, doesn’t it? Don’t call me on it. This thing called life is not a sprint, but a marathon. Sorry, I keep talking/writing in metaphors today.

“This face had no use for light, took none of it,
Grew cavernous against stars, bore into noon
A dark of midnight by its own resources.” ~ Josephine Miles, from “Made Shine”

Let’s see . . . what else is going on around here? Brett starts summer school next week, and oh yes, we can’t get financial aid for summer. Another bonus. But he really needs to take two classes this summer so that he’ll be caught up enough to begin his major classes in the fall. The money? Hmm . . . . Possibly the tax return, but oh yes, that’s been held up another eight to fourteen weeks . . . Just grand.

Barred Owl at Malheur National Wildlife Reserve, USFWS

Ask my ex to help his son with college? You’re joking, right? After the kids’ eighteenth birthdays, obligations went out the window. Now, anything that comes their way is a bonus, and everything else be damned.

Sorry, bitterness showing.

What else? Oh yes, Eamonn, who has until recently been cooperating in helping around the house while Corey is gone, has reverted. By that I mean that I’m getting heavy-duty attitude regarding the chores for which he volunteered. His logic? He’s working full time, so why should he have to take out the trash and recycling? You would think that I asked him to put on a new roof. I’m such a demanding mother. He gets clean laundry, Internet access, cable, food, help with his car insurance. Damn, what was I thinking in reminding him to take out the trash?

Sorry, more bitterness showing. Bitter kind of day. Dark kind of day. The pain and bad news are converging, brewing, coalescing, resulting in one premium foul mood.

“I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock’s loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.” ~ Ted Hughes, from “The Thought-Fox”

Actually, today is kind of like a scene from a David Lynch movie. Do you remember “Twin Peaks”? Remember the opening credits pulling back from the mountains? Remember the complete insanity of it all, how it was in stark contradiction to the beauty of the natural surroundings? The pie and coffee, the dream sequences, the clues within clues? I never did figure out who killed Laura Palmer. That show used to leave me stupefied and feeling completely lost. I think, no, I’m fairly certain that’s how Lynch intended it to be.

Rainbow at Quilcene National Fish Hatchery Looking South toward Mount Walker, USFWS

So today is my David Lynch day. I think that there may be clues out there somewhere as to what’s going to come, but I surely can’t decipher them. The rain? The rain that I loved at the beginning of this post? Now it just reminds me of Washington State, not that I’ve ever been there (but I actually do want to go to the Pacific Northwest). Rain, overcast, bleh.

Actually, there is a point here. David Lynch is big into dream sequences and dream interpretation. I, as you know, am constantly talking about my dreams, what happens, and what they might mean. In many ways, my dreams fall over into my real life as the mood I’m in when I awaken is often tied to what happened in the dream (Corey says that I get mad at him because of something he has done in a dream, and unfortunately, illogically, this is true). But  Lynch’s work is often open-ended and open to interpretation, kind of like today.

In Lynch’s movie Mulholland Drive (not Mulholland Falls with Nick Nolte)—a film not for people who like plot, linear movement, or logic—there are a few scenes in which people are wearing rabbit heads, like the kinds of animal heads men used to wear in the Victorian era, for some strange reason. Anyway, I think that I might actually have better vision if I put on a rabbit head. Or not.

In that movie, the female lead has a bad case of amnesia and spends a lot of time going places (like Winkies, I kid you not) and looking at things and talking to people in an attempt to figure out what happened. You know, I can’t actually remember how she got amnesia. Amnesia about the amnesia, if you will. The point of all of this? I couldn’t tell you even if I wanted to do so. So like most David Lynch things, I’m just going to end, in the middle, as it were.

More later. Peace.

Images taken from USFWS Pacific’s photostream on Flickr Creative Commons

Music by Pink, “I Don’t Believe You”

                   

Up

You wake up filled with dread.
There seems no reason for it.
Morning light sifts through the window,
there is birdsong,
you can’t get out of bed.It’s something about the crumpled sheets
hanging over the edge like jungle
foliage, the terry slippers gaping
their dark pink mouths for your feet,
the unseen breakfast—some of it
in the refrigerator you do not dare
to open—you do not dare to eat.What prevents you? The future. The future tense,
immense as outer space.
You could get lost there.
No. Nothing so simple. The past, its destiny
and drowned events pressing you down,
like sea water, like gelatin
filling your lungs instead of air.Forget that and let’s get up.
Try moving your arm.
Try moving your head.
Pretend the house is on fire
and you must run or burn.
No, that one’s useless.
It’s never worked before.Where is it coming from, this echo,
this huge No that surrounds you,
silent as the folds of the yellow
curtains, mute as the cheerful

Mexican bowl with its cargo
of mummified flowers?
(You chose the colours of the sun,
not the dried neutrals of shadow.
God knows you’ve tried.)

Now here’s a good one:
You’re lying on your deathbed.
You have one hour to live.
Who is it, exactly, you have needed
all these years to forgive?

Margaret Atwood

“Throw away the light, the definitions, and say what you see in the dark.” ~ Wallace Stevens

Music Man by psyberartist (FCC)

                   

“The days are nouns:  touch them The hands are churches that worship the world.” ~ Naomi Shihab Nye, from “Daily”

Tuesday afternoon. Sunny and mild, mid 50’s.

Rusted Piano Screws by psyberartist FCC

I had planned to post yesterday, but then I kind of went crazy in the house. I got everything done except for cleaning off the dining room table. The house looks and smells great, but I am paying for it dearly—back and arms are killing me, and the low-grade headache that I’ve been carrying around for weeks errupted into something more painful.

Of course, you would think that such exertion would allow me to fall into bed and deep, restful sleep. You would think, but you would be wrong, I saw 4 a.m. come and go once more. Oh well.

Corey has the same ridiculous shift this week that he had last week, which means that he’s getting about six hours of sleep between shifts. The good news, I suppose, is that the shifts end after tomorrow: He’s leaving this weekend. Now that he finally has a scheduled departure date, I’m more numb than anything. I know that I’ve had ample time to adjust my thinking about all of this, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve actually done so. Far from it.

The next few weeks should be nothing if not interesting.

“No one knows what will happen, but you and I at least, while the music of the murmur invents us, will have no part in anyone’s war, we will waste nothing, a signal going through us, like an inkling of god or a hunger for strawberries or the indisputable fact of love.” ~ Dean Young, from The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction

I’m scheduled to get my Botox shots for my migraines on the 21st and to have my pulmonary function test on the 20th. The Singulair has helped with the wheezing, but I’m still coughing. I’m hoping that I don’t have to stay on the Singulair as it has some unpleasant side effects, that, and I really don’t want to add yet another medicine to my regimen.

Old Piano Knobs by psyberartist (FCC)

I am concerned about my blood pressure, though. The last three times that it’s been checked, it was quite high. I had attributed it to being sick and to being stuck in the ER, but the last time was in the doctor’s office, and I didn’t feel particularly stressed. I know that high blood pressure runs on my dad’s side of the family, and his father and a brother both had strokes, so I suppose it’s something that I need to watch, as if there isn’t enough already.

So aside from my ailing body and body parts, the washer has decided to die, and one of the cracks in the sliding door finally gave way, and a pane fell out. Corey put up some wood, which makes the door very heavy, but there’s nothing else we can do before he leaves. Replacing the back door is going to cost big bucks, and there is always something else more pressing, like the washing machine. The part costs $100. Geez.

We could probably pick up a used washer somewhere, but then there is the issue of transporting the darned thing, that, and trying to maneuver it through the house to the garage, as access through the garage is impossible. I love my house

“It’s a sad day when you find out that it’s not accident or time or fortune, but just yourself that kept things from you.” ~ Lillian Hellman

It’s already the second week of February, and January seems so far away. The days go by so quickly, and yet I never seem to get anything done.

The Keys Remain by psyberartist (FCC)

I did cut my hair, though. Did a fairly good job of it this time. I was having one of those days, and the urge had been creeping up on me for a while, so a few days ago, I cut off about three inches all over and managed to get some layers in. I’ll probably never be able to repeat the job that I did. But it feels bettter, not so heavy.

So that’s my big accomplishment for the beginning of the year. I know that I’ve done a lot of other things, like setting up my new desk and sorting and condensing the office supplies, but nothing seems significant. I wonder when my life became so insignificant. I wonder at what point I actually stopped having goals.

I mean, when you have a career, you have goals: next raise, next possible promotion. Or when you are learning a musical instrument, your goal is the next piece that you can master. When writing regularly, the goal is the next word, the next sentence, the next page. But what happens to those of us who live our lives within ourselves, in quiet desperation?

Does the goal become merely to survive? To hold onto reality a little longer? To make it to the next Dr. Who season? Have I truly reached the point at which I measure not my life but my days in coffee spoons (nod to T.S.)?

Tomorrow I might give the dogs a bath, and maybe I’ll do some more laundry (speaking of which, last night I dreamed that I was doing laundry with my friend Kathleen, great way to waste a dream). And of course, I have the taxes to look forward to—that’s always a thrill . . .

More geez. I think that I’ll stop for now.

*All photos in this post, which are taken from psyberartist’s Flickr site, feature images of an old piano that was sitting in someone’s trash. Amazing—beauty in found places.

More later. Peace.

                   

Sequestrienne

Don’t look at me
for answers. Who am I but
a sobriquet,
a teeth-grinder,
grinder of color,
and vanishing point?
There was a time
of middle distance, unforgettable,
a sort of lace-cut
flame-green filament
to ravish my
skin-tight eyes.
I take that back—
it was forgettable but not
entirely if you
consider my
heavenly bodies . . .
I loved them so.
Heaven’s motes sift
to salt-white—paint is ground
to silence; and I,
I am bound, unquiet,
a shade of blue
in the studio.
If it isn’t too late
let me waste one day away
from my history.
Let me see without
looking inside
at broken glass.

~ Dorothea Tanning (1910–2012)

Dorothea Tanning | Art and design | The Guardian (ipnagogicosentire.wordpress.com)

Surrealist Painter, Sculptor and Writer Dorothea Tanning Dies at 101 (laughingsquid.com)

“You have to sweep the temple steps a lot in hopes that the god appears.” ~ Dean Young

Winter Time by Piotr Krzackowski

“What does the new savagery
require of me? If I pound a nail
into the wall, the wall is my heart.” ~Dean Young

Poet Dean Young needs a heart transplant as a result of a degenerative heart condition: congestive heart failure due to idiopathic hypotropic cardiomyopathy. Please visit the website listed and share this information where you can:  National Foundation for Transplants: Fund for Dean Young.

Fellow poet and Young’s best friend Tony Hoagland posted an appeal letter on the National Foundation for Transplants website in which he praises Young’s work and refers to his “reckless and uncompromised vision of what art is.”

Seth Pollins recently shared a letter that he once received from his uncle Dean during their ongoing, sixteen-year correspondence. I asked Seth if I could reprint the letter, which appeared on Pollins’s blog The New Savagery, and Pollins graciously gave me permission.

I had wanted to post this letter as it is the kind of letter that so many of us who aspire to work with words would love to have received at some point in our lives. Young’s words to his nephew are heartfelt and honest; they acknowledge the doubt that plagues those who try to create, while still imparting a sense of hope and belief in possibility: “In my experience, the people who become writers are the ones who keep writing through the yards of silence and the years of discouragement . . . you can’t sustain inspiration, you can only court it.”

                    

2/17/98

Dear Seth,

I was very happy to get your letter, and my mom sent me your story which I want to get to but things have been so busy lately, what with school here and all those demands, and I’ve been flying around doing readings, and always feeling that I’m not devoting enough time to anything, even my cat, I figured I’d better write you soon, even if it was before reading your story, because I guess you’re off across the seas soon. I don’t know if I can really help you through your uncertainties, but I think I understand what you’re feeling, and wondering, and maybe doubting. As far as missing out on life because of devoting your time to writing, I don’t think you need to worry about that: life will happen to you no matter what you do. There will be joys and celebrations. There will be nights crossing bridges you don’t know the name of when some unspeakable beauty envelopes you. There will be nights looking from windows upon the staggered lights of some town when some unspeakable sadness envelopes you. There will be people you love who you can no longer find your way to. There will be new discoveries, new clouds that resemble strange and terrible things, tangerines and hangovers, and long, long telephone calls made of almost entirely silence. There will be enormous pains and small pains that are almost pleasurable. There will be haiku that suddenly make sense, and the feeling that something has been taken from you, and songs, always songs. So don’t worry about missing life, it’s like missing the sky, you can’t, you’ll always be under it and in it and sometimes high in it, but often just on the ground, moving from thing to do to, needing, crying, making people laugh, although it’s hard to tell what they’re laughing about because it seems you were just talking about how terrible life is. But one thing that won’t just happen to you, like life, is teaching yourself to write well. So whatever time you spend doing that, can stand to spend, and need to spend, all that time that seems wasted and those rare moments that seem volcanic and so sure, is the time that must be spent, otherwise you’ll never become the writer you want to become. And there’s a funny thing about that, too. One is that you’ll never become the writer you want to become. You’ll never be satisfied, never really know if you are any good. You’ll never be certain. I mean to you it probably seems I have some sort of certainty, I’ve published some books which sometimes show up in used bookstores right down there with Yeats and John Yau (who?) and just in the last couple of years or so people have started to hear of my work, of me, and now I’m teaching at this la de da writing program and poets who I think of as giants are treating me as a friend, which is, I admit, great, but there is flattery and there is the truth and one can never tell where one stops and one begins. My own sense of my my own writing is what have I done lately? It’s the writing-nowness of it that matters, and in that we’re all equals in the fog, each of us with a single flashlight with the batteries only lasting so long and we’re not sure if we should signalling to some landing airplane or is that the galloping of horses we hear coming our way, or should we be just trying to find house again, that place where we were born, where some huge, beneficent force would lift us from our groggy tatters and fit us into a voluminous bed. So don’t worry, Seth, you’re feeling what you have to feel, and as John Ashbery says, The reasons that religions are great is that they are founded on doubt. So you have to be the religion of yourself, which surely Walt Whitman said somewhere, and it sounds like you’re finding your way. Because it has to be YOUR way. Certainly there are teachers who can help you with things like dependent clauses and plot formation and run-on sentences (yikes), but all the hard play and work you must do yourself, which means above all else doing it. In my experience, the people who become writers are the ones who keep writing through the yards of silence and the years of discouragement. I think you may be worrying about things more then I did when I was your age. At least about writing. I knew it was a thing I did. I started writing poems in the third grade, and although I’m disappointed I’m not a lot better, it is something I do and therefore part of who I am, and cannot be reft from me. Perhaps I was too stupid or stoned or drunk or distracted or comfortable, or it was another world of skinny-dipping in the Bloomington quarries with a group of friends most of whom were trying to write well, with stupid jobs, and reading Frank O’Hara. I guess it was something I had faith in. It was later, by the time I was in graduate school, that the real ambitions (and poisons) of trying to get published and all that came into play. By then, well, it was too late. It was what I did. Remember, Seth, you can’t sustain inspiration, you can only court it, and here’s the thing: it happens WHILE you work. It’s not something to wait around for. You have to sweep the temple steps a lot in hopes that the god appears. Go back to college. It is a good place to try to teach yourself to write and to be surrounded be fellow blockheads that love books. Now I must get back to working on a poem I have no hope for because it is important to keep writing even when you aren’t writing worth shit. There’s a lot of luck involved in being struck by lightening, so you you want to make sure you’re holding a pen when it happens. Write again soon, dear nephew. Allow yourself to be uncertain, but don’t let your uncertainty turn to despair. It can be wonderful to write when you’re sad and full of the dark bouquet of doubt, but misery leads itself to silence and one must get out of bed every morning and prepare for the great celebration of one’s own imagination, even if it doesn’t happen that day.

Love,

Dean

                   

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More later. Peace.