June 30, 2009

"A man told me"

A man told me
Beware of alienating your readers
Whoever they are
The idea of audience is alien
To me.

I must avoid the abstract,
the intangible

and focus instead

on something that other people could relate too,

maybe families, life


not your, or my job to ask the BIG questions, those that sit
outside of the world and reside only in the
realm of human cognition.

I can see my hands, but does that make them handy?

The absurd and the abstract have many point of intersection

something that mathematics is decidedly at odds with.

I have had grandfathers. Mothers,
both grand and middling

Family, life experiences, but

My life has been spent inside the covers of books.

I want to ask the big questions, the abstract, and
Not live in some other world where the rest of the people work and play

It is something I cannot write, right*.
(*meaning, correctly*)

My grasp of the realm of today is something,
that I hold like a child learning

A new language.
The fresh tongue fits awkwardly at first, and they
Cannot feel out the words.
In a word, uncomfortable.

I want to write high and lofty, and
easily recognizable as such,

not these seemingly simple things.
Frankly, I am in love with the subordinate clause.

I cannot relate a story to my friends, because
Of this love,
I am constantly interrupted, and my thoughtfulness
is mistaken for the opposite, because I am trying to make people understand

a sentence full of polysyllabic words

is hard to understand
when the gin sets in, and the

fraternal slaps on the back increase
and all real concerns are about
the football team

I should have been on, or the running back that has been

It seems the abstract is out of fashion, becoming lost in the
Society overloads on us.

Maybe I need more erudite drinking buddies, or

I should

Acquiesce, accede, accept, accommodate…yield

(thanks, Roget)

And write like Hemmingway. (as a poet, understand?)

Declarative sentences
What comma?
No comma
All gone!

But there is truth somewhere, where is this eternal and everlasting truth

That I long to kiss and hold near to my breast?

It lies in the past, somewhere we all stumbled upon it,

But we were too young, too naïve to recognize what a gem we had found.

It was like this:

One day, not too long ago
(clichéd flashback scene, the music, maybe its Chopin. Add a wavy screen effect, showing the image of what you, the reader, think I would look like nearing the explosion of puberty.)

A cookie-cutter subdivision
In a nondescript town
It is the summer in the American
South. I have few friends that
I would tell anything to,
let alone anything dark.

Much of my time, I read
The encyclopedia or
The dictionary or
Something literary.
I’m looking for an escape
to somewhere where I’ll have
the superficial things that
I want or that I have
been told that I want by
animated figures illuminated

in a shining cathode ray
tube. But this is not most
of the time. This is one
time I am thinking of, one
distinct time and place
definable within the
bound of our understanding
of how the universe works.

I am ambling through
a wooded lot lying next
to our house. This lot
is too narrow, the hill in
front is too steep for the
developer to build a
sellable house on.

Young pine trees inhabit
the place a house may someday
rest. This area is really no bigger
than the apartment I will someday
live in, but it is full of mysteries,
full of refuge. The undergrowth
is full of briars and thorns, but
this has not slackened the ambitions
of inquisitive neighborhood children.
There are tunnels running through,
A complex system, with several
entrances, many a place to flee.

In one place, we had, at one time,
endeavored to dig a large pit.
We accomplished this, but we
are unsure of what to do with this
cavity. It was the act of digging,
and not the goal, that we found
so pleasurable. This crater has
many permutations. Foxhole,
army base, anything that could
be militaristic. We carry our
plastic guns believing someday
they will be made of metal.

This day though there is no
faux gun explosions, no familiar
sound of a child laughing.
The sun is setting towards
the base of the long shallow
hill the neighborhood is built
upon. I am wearing red sweat
pants, a dirty cotton shirt,
and most likely no sort of
underwear. I know
it is about the time that
my mom will be worrying
about what I am doing.
She will first look into
my room, maybe thinking
I will be in my bed,
but I had pondered why
X, Y, and Z were alphabetical
outcasts in the encyclopedia
earlier in the day. Why are
the last letters the least
important ones? Or is
their importance just
overlooked? So, I am not
to be found there. Instead,
I am outside.

I sit not in the protected
undergrowth, or fighting
imaginary enemies out of
the foxhole, but instead I
am sitting on the hill of
the vacant lot, in the eroded
gullies of packed red clay,
and various rocks. Ambitious,
foolhardy weeds have taken
root, but they will soon be
washed away by the next
heavy rain. I imagine myself
being in the desert, surrounded
by nothingness. The ambient
sounds are of people and
traffic, but I hear the coyote
and childishly, the roadrunner.

I shift through the rocks,
hoping to find something
interesting. I have recently
received a rock polisher
as a gift. You put a handful
of rocks into a tumbler
running off alternating
current. These rocks in
the tumbler rub against
each other, and in concert
with the sand you apply,
the sand becoming ever finer
and finer, you have almost semi-
precious jewels. You glue these
stones to pieces of gold
colored tin supplied in the
box, and you have fabulous
jewelry. So says the box,
and the gullible believe this.
All I have achieved so far
was polished granite,
But even for the grossly
curious, this is not enough.

I long for everlasting beauty
a “Eureka!” find, even though
I hardly understand who
Archimedes was, and know
less what that means. I want
diamonds, thinking that they
will be cut and highly brilliant
from the tumbler. I think
of the cartoon diamond mine,
the caricatures of African
excavators finding a sparkling
gem amongst the dirt.

This day, as the sun hangs
low in the sky, casting
oblique rays towards this
young geologist, I see a
metallic reflection amid
the dull and drab contours
of the earth. I reach for
this find, this golden nugget
and rejoice.

I pick it up, and try to
remember when I have
ever been happier. I believe
I am richer than I have ever
imagined. I have found a
hunk of gold, and I can buy
anything that I want. This
means any book, any video
game that I can imagine.
My fingers curl around it,
and I grip it tighter than
any plastic trigger I have
ever wrapped my hand around.
I do not understand density,
but this rock is heavier than
it appears it should be.
It reminds me of picking up
the cluster of rings my mother
leaves by the sink when she
washes the dishes. This heaviness
means the world to me. Ideas
rush through my mind as I
rush the short distance to the
front door. I enthusiastically
hold the grail out to the person
who knows more than anyone
in the world. And my mother says,

“That’s a nice piece of fool’s gold
you’ve found.” And all my hopes
and dreams and ideas are crushed.
Even for a child, it is crushing
to be called a fool. I again
tighten my grip, and keep the
disappointment inside my heart.
I have not yet had my heart broken,
but I have received my first taste
of disappointment from one who
I love. I look down at the luminescent
rock in my hand, and resign myself
to being wrong. The nugget in my
hand is special, but not valuable.
This is a very important distinction
I have picked up in the years
since, but the younger version
of myself struggles with this
moment. I am not often wrong,
yet alone humiliated by a
very common mistake. I
do not hold the truth in my hand,
only something interesting,
something that, to this day, hangs
with the varied bric-a-brac in
a frame my parents keep to show
curious visitors, who number in
the small digits, the numbers a
young child can comprehend
even if he cannot discern mica
from the golden flash of truth.

I wouldn’t have the hubris

to call narrative poetry
or without certain difficulty or anything
of that sort.


It is not something that I can lie in bed at night, after a hard day of writing,

And sleep is all I want.