One hundred words are not a lot you can read them in a minute. Could even make a game of it, but there’s no prize if you win it. It’s the writing of them, trust me, that takes up much more than that time. I know, I’ve written many poems and got stuck with just ninety-nine. But the tougher job, so I’ve found, and believe you me it’s no fun, is thinking you wrote one hundred words and counting one hundred twenty-one. But I’m a pro, even wrote some books, excess words are mere distractions. I’ll cut some “the”s and some adverbs. The rest? S’why God made contractions. Of course, in writing this bit of rhyming verse, I blew past the century mark of words (111, actually), but that's the risk you run when you try to keep the lines at a certain number of syllables. Maybe I'm actually a dilletante poet and not a professional. But I can cut the latter to "pro" and you know what I mean. And even though I was in a pickle, I'm not a "dill." Oh, and one of those books I wrote is full of one hundred word poems. It's titled "One Hundred Beats a Minute."
Hello, blank page. I see you’re the same as yesterday, so there’s no need to ask. Me, I’m pretty much the same, too. Tired and sad. Worried and a little angry. The first three are my normal. The last one I don’t do so well. So, page, sorry for heaping all those dry words on your head, like they were the dead leaves taunting me from the yard. But then, let’s face it, you’re taunting me, too, winking at me with that curser eye of yours. Listen, page, as I whisper-click this chain of subject-predicate-decorative embellishment upon your once-pristine get-up of faux white in even phonier black. Perhaps I should remind you again of the red and yellow wardrobe the trees have doffed onto the bottle green outside. Gotta go, page. Nice talk. Those leaves won’t collect themselves without me, just as these words wouldn’t without you. I can’t say you look any better than when we started, but I felt better while we communed. Molte grazie! BTW, you look like someone I used to know. Later! (I hope.) Desperately uninspired times call for crazily inspired measures...like talking to a blank page and hoping something comes from that one-sided conversation. Unfortunately, nothing did, other than two old warriors chopping it up for twenty minutes of semi-creative therapy and poetic graffiti.
I wonder too much about someone else’s present, who may happen to be part of my past. This might have something to do with the fact I'll never have too bright a future to consider. The funny part of all this remains that the only time I’m “present” is when I’m chronicling these expeditions into a past that’s fictitious at best and that other present which is not my own. It’s my sole claim to mindfulness and I’m only borrowing it. Well, stealing it. But only for the hour that I touch these keys, leaving fingerprints on your present …tomorrow.
They tell me that the letters on the first keyboards, the ones sprung into those marvelous manual typewriters you see in photos collecting dust behind some writer, old reporter (Guilty on both counts!) and Tom Hanks, were set up in alphabetical order.
That makes sense in helping us spell out our missives and stories, since we’ve been singing their A-B-C theme song since we were three or so. But such an array of sentences in the raw were too easy to chase down. Typists cut through the herd of potential words so fast the letters’ spindly legs kept getting tangled, resulting in the expression of words best implied by a letter on each end and a series of <shift+numerals> in between.
Then a man named Sholes asked some speedy typists to help him select an arrangement of keys that might slow down their fingers, thus giving the machine’s type-fisted arms a chance to reload before slugging the paper’s face again. Eureka, swift word-spitting without the necessity of too much untangling slowing things down even more. Well, not too much.
And thus the QWERTY keyboard beneath my fingers and yours was born. The fact that the Remington Company was sold on the idea didn’t hurt its advancement, either. It became the industry standard, the one on the Smith-Corona I used to write useless themes and theses in high school and college and the Underwood upon which I first plied my professional craft of inverted-pyramid yarn-spinning about the living and dead.
The typing gods saw QWERTY worked perfectly well, so IBM even kept it to fire off that little magic ball at the center of my Selectric typewriter. And yes, even with that little gray box that kept its keyboard on a leash, my first Apple Macintosh (this was before we were on a Joe & Mac nickname basis).
And then, along came the cell phone and then the so-called smart phone with its texting to you and tweeting at the world and even word processing programs. But in order to weave all those words that assail us each day, we need a functional keyboard. Done! They just took old QWERTY and smooshed it down into something the size of your laptop’s E-R-T on top and D-F-G beneath, which is amazing, when you think about it.
What’s not so amazing is that the six or seven fingers I’ve used to talk to the page haven’t gotten kept pace with the nano-ization of QWERTY over the past 50-odd years. Thus, words I have never misspelled (even “misspell”) over that time can be scrambled like I was using boxing gloves to type into the Enigma Code machine.
And what about that supposed helper of the fumble-fingered, Autospell? That little devil will often jump the gun on words I’m trying to get down quickly, forcing me to stop and untangle the virtual spindly arms that have turned my typing “Vince O,Conner” to “Vice Gonorrhea.” And yes, that happened to me.
I’ve gone on much too long trying to untie this un-QWERTY snarl of ganglia that’s been keeping me from writing like I used to. Thus I decided to “just write” today. So I hope you’ll indulge me this stream of semi-consciousness I’m sharing. It was nice finding the keys (at least on my laptop, my phone is a lost cause) in the right places again, even if the words they built weren’t what I would wish to find attached to the oval-shaped tap trail of letters that passes for my name.
And I’m forced back to rhymes
just like all those other times,
especially the most recent,
not like back when I was a decent
poet, one full of emotion,
but, like you, that ship’s sailed on an ocean
so rough, tough and wide
that now that ship’s sunk, like my pride,
and I no longer hide
what I feel inside
‘cause I admit I cried
so many times about the losses,
more than all the knots and crosses
I would write for you,
even though they could never be true.
Anyway, I guess here’s the drop,
I’d love to write something besides this glop,
but I can’t without a target
and that’s something no market
stocks, like bras, panties and socks.
See, there’s that sub rosa sex
you say I hide within my subtext.
I had to look up that definition
since idiot savant is my position
in a world so full of real writers,
the love igniters,
the fascist fighters,
who pull all those all-nighters
with real muses providing invention
while I fail without your kind attention.
I know, it’s sounds so damn dumb
to think one person can strike me mum.
But that’s really not true,
because there’s always been more of you
than meets a reader’s eye,
even one who will so closely spy
for what you find between the lines,
as if I was some teen who sits and pines
then struts his hour upon the stage,
or like an old loser who bangs bourbon for rage
but mostly I’m just the guy on the page
who longs to express simple, not sage,
somethings, my second toughest critic,
the one who’d always be so analytic,
as to gauge each poem’s level of misery
when really there’s no mystery
to what I used to do.
I just wrote them for,
not about, but more
Yeah, I watched too much “Hamilton” this past weekend. So now I’m spitting rhymes in an effort to write anything at all. But maybe there’s something in here I don’t see. So if you do, and if it’s not too painful (I don’t bite and I’m too old and tired to care), let me know you’re there. Shit, another rhyme.
I wish I could find the recipe
for my old delectations you loved.
Couple of cups of flower
for the nature ones,
a teaspoon of that sugar and soda
for the leavening of levity.
Was it four or five drops
from the bottle of tears
for all the pearl-clutchers?
Seems so long since I
broke all those lines of eggs
and shoved a two-verse bit
of two-bit verse into the oven.
Was it a knife or a toothpick
I’d stab into the Westerns
to check their done-ness?
None ever were.
I should have written down
those old recipes, but maybe
it was the total sensory emptiness
of the cold, aroma-less kitchen
that stirred me to pull out
this 52-key mixing bowl again.
The clicks as I mixed this
sound write, but I’m never
sure how how it’ll taste.
Want to lick the spoon?
Here you are again,
floating in front of me.
There but not there,
inevitably as real
as I can make you.
And yet I’m your captive,
one of my own imagination,
one who who lives to see you
and loves to please you,
one who chronicles
the never-weres in clicks
one who almost never can
Then I realize it’s time
for you to go again,
fading into the light.
At least until tonight,
when you return, floating
on a river of blackest ink
across my ceiling dark.
And I, your poet, without a pen.
I don’t see it as anything odd,
how I do this or that is just how I do it.
So, why did you get your drawers in a wad,
like you grabbed a rock in your hothouse and threw it?
Do I point out how you study whatever you pick
after going two knuckles deep up your nose?
I mean, c’mon, you’re cultured, not some hick.
Well, at least you don’t eat it, too, I suppose.
Over the years, I’ve used a zillion H’s, I’ll bet,
from all the times I wrote my sneeze-sounding name.
But you have need for none that often, and yet
you skip it for saying These, Them and Those, just the same.
So please don’t pick, peck or parse my idiosyncrasy,
since, about yours, I’ve been silent, not some jerk.
Yes, I zone out, but it’s not what you think you see.
It’s a writer thing — a gift and a curse — not a quirk.
NaPoWriMo Day 22. A “quirk” poem.
I remember when you told me
you had the resolve to be alone,
yet not lonely. But it’s hard to
embrace such a future when
a certain someone comes along
to bump into your present.
My spirit animal has always
been the wolf. Though mine
is lonely, he’s never alone.
It’s why I became a fixture
in your night, loping to
the bottom of your page,
the top of this hill.
I’m silhouetted against
this virtual moon where
I howl out feelings
I know you share, there
in your room, where
you’re alone, telling me
you’re not that lonely.
Another poem-a-day effort. I wasn’t feeling too well the past few days and missed those daily pieces. Maybe I’ll make them up over the next week or so. This poem required me to use those words you see up there in bold maroon. I’ve always enjoyed using groups of random words as poem or story starters. I should make my own instead of waiting for someone else to do my work. Oh, and the title is Spanish for “Your Lonely Wolf.” I’m hoping it sparks me into writing one of my beloved western stories.
It’s the frame through which
our pictures happen to unfold
of how the world goes ‘round and ‘round
and I just sit here and go old.
I perch here on this side of the glass,
the world lies around out there,
and we pose for hours and one another,
the world supine and I in my chair.
Even on overcast days, outside
it’s brighter than it is in here.
That’s in the eye of the beholder,
and this beholder’s craving a beer.
I watch the maple and birch trees bow
and then, with the wind, they dance.
On a page, I draw a picture of them,
with words better suited for romance.
Some days those words come quite easily,
other days it’s just so damn hard.
I’m sure the world deserves better,
but unfortunately I’m me, not some Bard.
Birds, squirrels, a woman, some girls,
memories of them true and false,
cross by my window in their own way each day,
this window ‘neath the old back porch walls.
I write down what I see, most times what I don’t,
‘cause I have a tendency to forget.
The world’s wooden-framed eyeball never blinks,
but I’ve yet to see it write about me yet.
So that’s the lot of the back porch poet,
the guy who chronicles what he senses each day.
Not too many read these, as far as I know it,
but if I didn’t, who’d know what my world had to say?
On Day 9 of Poem A Day April, an ekphrastic poem. For all you folks like me who never knew, that’s a poem inspired by a piece of art. I’ve written lots of poems like that! I’m an ekphrastic poet! Who knew? Anyway, I chose that photo up there because it reminded me of yours truly as he hunches over his laptop each day in front of the window facing the backyard.