Of Pretty Words and Words for Pretty

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You can’t wait for inspiration.
You have to go after it with a club
~ Jack London

The fan rattles away, blowing ripples
into my shirt and goosebumps
on my arms. My hands float poised above
the keyboard awaiting the control tower
to get its head out of the ass
of my head to impart instructions
(I can’t hope for inspiration)
for a landing I can walk away from.
In the monitor’s glass, I see
an expression of flight, but not
a flight of whimsy or artistry,
rather of runaway fear and survival.

But I can’t leave the room, I mustn’t
leave this chair, until words, perhaps
even pretty ones, fall from my heart
to the virtual page. And so I type —
fetching, lovely, cute, captivating
heartfelt all. Now I await another
flight — of fancy or fear it matters not—
while the fan flips the silver on my head
as it oscillates like my creative self,
by and by and by in the lonely monotony of
the writer who’s forgotten how to write.

Where I reside in the literal, literary and physical senses these days.

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The End of the Affair

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My partner and I called it
a year and a half ago.
It was time. Something
she’d never understand.
We’d been going up and down
the same road for years and
it had become nothing but
out and back with no exit
other than here and there.
And so this silence of a life,
this loss of the waves
of tremors I’d feel when
we’d take off together,
the vibrations of ear
and heart that would spark
these visions I’d share
with the few who might care
to see, to hear, to feel
what I did.

She’s waiting for me now,
for me to sit with her and
warm one another on
this cold January day,
to set our course wherever
I want now, instead of
our old north and south.
I miss our alone time,
there in the crowds
of steel and flashing red,
when a song, a memory,
an image other than
dashes of white on black
drawn on a windshield
chalkboard, would become
flesh as soon as she
let go of my hand, and I
grabbed that of my
other secret partner, my #2
of yellow. And so now,
The rest is silence.

This and the previous poem are so reminiscent of the blast of writing I’d do after my commute each morning from Clifton Park to Albany. Both accomplished in less than an hour. I’m sure they show it, but that’s how I work…or don’t.

Desperate Measures

Ever wonder how the once-prolific though often actually dispassionate poet guy comes up with the hundreds of bits of story and verse he’s posted on this small wall? Lately, so have I.

Sometimes, when my shallow puddle of passion leaves me (like during the past month or more) and nothing in life wants its story written that day, I free write a list of ten words, sentences or impressions based upon a word I pull randomly from whatever book is near my hand.

Some of the inhabitants of these lists, once I gaze at them for a spell, form connections with one another, like moderately successful blind dates. (Hopefully, more like a weekend at a swingers’ club.) And sometimes these connections become ideas for poems and stories you’ve read and maybe even liked.

It’s a desperate ploy by a desperate man, but damn if it hasn’t worked more times than not.

I’m beyond desperate these days. I am bereft of emotion and insight. That’s why I reached over to the bookcase, opened up the first book I touched (a crossword puzzle dictionary, if you must know) and dropped it upon its spine, poking my finger between the pages and using the word upon which it came to rest.

Today’s word, at this point pretty damn useless for this fairly blind imagination, is GREEN.

Here’s what happened after that:

1. Green, nothing but green, surrounded me, lying there on the 30-yard line, once the white, red and black cleared from my head.
2. Green tomatoes, breaded and fried, sounded like a decent side dish, but the blonde who walked in while I ordered would have been an epic one.
3. Green fluid seeped from beneath car and puddled on the roadway.
4. Green buckskin uniforms lay scattered above the village, waiting for the signal to attack.
5. “Green grass, will return someday, my son, when Manitou is once again pleased with his fallen people,” the old sachem told his grandson. But each of them knew otherwise.
6. Green-clad cheerleaders pranced and kicked along the sidelines, while the backup wide receiver stretched his hamstring and strained his eyes for a look at one blonde’s personal 50-yard line. (A sad, but true memory from the concussed dude from up there in Number 1.)
7. Green like no green I’d ever seen greeted me when I emerged from the shadows beneath the mezzanine and saw the diamond-cut emerald set in the red velvet infield dirt of Fenway park.
8. “Green antifreeze, I told you to get the GREEN antifreeze,” Dad said, tossing his cigarette away in disgust.
9. “Green beer for you on this fine day, darlin’?”, the barmaid asked. (Wonder what would have happened if I asked for orange?)
10. “Green pants and a green clip-on tie bearing the SPI monogram of St. Patrick’s Institute, were my uniform for nine years, after which I vowed never to wear any combination of blue mixed with yellow again, Sergeant,” I told the Army corpsman at my Draft physical. (Another truth, long-forgotten.)

I hope one of these images springs forth a little literary life soon. Otherwise, I’m going to have to put away my pencil for a spell. And I’m forgetting where I put a lot of things lately.

The End of an Error

I’m not surprised you came today.
Sharing was supposed to be so easy.
You said all I had to do was bleed.

Just speak without a conscience, without care.
So I promised I’d never lie to you.
Then I just went and made everything up.

See, I never wanted to trust everything you told me.
After all, my heart couldn’t be damaged anymore than it was.
And so today we say goodbye to a life of words.

You win, I’m all bled out.

Combining NaPoWriMo and Poem-A-Day prompts again today. The former asking for a ten-line poem made of ten lies. The latter looked for an elegy, a song for the departed. After this, I’m afraid you’ll feel as confused as I do today.

Oh, Lonesome Me

A kind of placeholder/catch-up poem for Day 9 of April National Poetry Month. Today’s prompt for NaPoWriMo was take any random song play list (from iPod, in this case) and use the next five song titles on that randomized list in a poem.

I’ll dream up something on my own later.

Left Alone
Underneath the Stars
Miles from Nowhere
Till the Morning Comes —
Delicate

As the Poetry gods, Kismet and Dumb Luck, would have it, Serena Matthews, Kate Rusby (I want her and Alison Kraus to sing at my funeral — angel voices), Cat Stevens, Neil Young, and Damien Rice were the stars that aligned for a rather cool poem.

If the prompt had asked for the first seven songs, this would have gone over like a fart in church. Next up were Wall of Death (Richard Thompson) and Canadian Railroad Trilogy (Gordon Lightfoot). Whew!

Shadow Play

Behind the pink scrim, shadow play performers gesture about the stage in indistinct silhouette to woodwind accompaniment and the plucked bass string of my pulse.

Here and there, flashes of halos bounce against the screen, but instead of blinking I open the curtains.

Before me I see lakeside willows waving and the glaring pitter-pat of the Star’s face upon that shattered mirror of water.

It falls warm upon my cheek like your touch, and I can’t help but close my eyes again.

“What are you smiling at,” you say, as I lean back, humming the score of Nature’s Ombre chinoise.

Here is a 100-word, Five Sentence Fiction drabble prose poem that I am sharing with Lillie McFerrin’s troops (Prompt: SUNSHINE) and with my friend Victoria C. Slotto’s call at dVerse today for and Object Poem, where we look at something quite ordinary, but in a different way. Hope I haven’t jumped too far from their requests…these pain meds and all.

Praying for Echoes

I shout into the dark,
sometimes whisper too,
when I pick up this pen
to tell myself something
I didn’t know until after I did.
To anyone watching,
they would see this
as a near-silent endeavor,
save for the scratching
on the page, fingers tapping
on keyboard, the snorts and sighs
of me on life, and the laugh of life
upon us all.
The pen and paper,
keyboard and computer,
the very breath of creation,
are tools with which I call out
to no one but myself.
But deep within
lone and lonely me,
I pray someone hears
my echo.

Another 100-word drabble/poem. A 10-minute free-written thing for my friend Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday feature. This time it’s based on an Apple computer TV ad, courtesy of Walt Whitman and the film Dead Poets Society. I thought I recognized Old Walt’s voice, but I’ve never seen the movie. Doesn’t matter. They all prodded this poem out of me in a great rush.

Shared with my friends at dVerse Poets Pub for Open Link Night