Once Upon a Time There Was a Writer…

Still Life with Lemons on a Plate. Vincent van Gogh, 1887

“What are you doing?”

“Trying to write a new story for my kids collection.”

“What’s it about?”

“I don’t know yet because I haven’t been able to start it.”

“Why not?”

“Because I keep getting distracted.”

“I only just came into the room. You’ve been in here for over an hour.”

“I’m blocked, Jeannie, okay?” 

“What does that even mean?”

“It means I can’t find anything to write about, or can’t get started for some odd reason…like being distracted by my daughter.”

“So this is my fault again. Here, let me help you begin.”

“No, really, I’d prefer it if you’d…”

“Once upon a time, there lived a shoemaker who couldn’t make shoes anymore.”

“Seriously, would you please…”

“So this shoemaker had a daughter, who was the most beautiful and intelligent girl in the kingdom.

“Where’s this going? I’d like to get to my work.”

“One day, the shoemaker’s daughter found her father staring at his work table, where he had all kinds of leather and tools that he had acquired from all over the world.”

“Go on if you must. Just…go on.”

“Don’t sigh so. So the shoemaker’s daughter said, ‘Don’t despair, Father dear. You just need to get away from all your shoe forms and glue pots and laces and come walk with me through the lemon groves.”

“Lemon groves?”

“Don’t stop me now. While they walked, the brilliant daughter filled her apron with the sour lemons. Her father said, ‘What do you propose to do with so many of those?’ And she replied, ‘I’ll crush these, taking their sour essence, add the sweetness of my sugar and make lemon tarts and lemon curd.”

“Lemon curd?”

“Shhh, I’m trying to help here. So the shoemaker and his beautiful and brilliant daughter returned to their house, where she did as she said she would, leaving a dozen untouched lemons left there on her counter. ‘You can have these, father. Perhaps you can think of something else to do with them,’ she said. Just then, a handsome young man was riding past the shoemaker’s house and smelled the lemon tarts the shoemaker’s angelic daughter had left on the window sill to cool.”

“No. You’re not going to say…”

“The handsome young man reined in his horse and walked to the window, drawn by the aroma of the sweetened sour lemons in their flaky pastry glory. At the window, he peered inside and saw the shoemaker’s daughter and was smitten by her beauty, intelligence and extraordinary housekeeping skills.”

“That’s a real stretch.”

“Please, I’m coming to the climax. As I said, the handsome young man was smitten by the shoemaker’s daughter. Let’s call her Jeanne Rose…”

“Convenient.”

“I repeat: Jeanne Rose. And the young man asked if her if he could sample her tarts. The oh-so-sweet Jeanne Rose said he could, but that she had no suitable libation for the young man to drink with his tart. Her father, seeing the young man and daughter setting off sparks between them, and knowing you can’t get rid of a daughter fast enough back in these fairy tale times, said, ‘Handsome young man, if you would be so kind as to fetch me a bucket of water from the well, I shall provide you with libation that you might even take with you on the road if you wish.’ So the young man brought a bucket into the house. The shoemaker crushed the dozen lemons into the water, added  enough sugar to make it ALMOST as sweet as Jeanne Rose, and presented it to the smitten young man.”

“Oh…kayyy…”

“Shhh, let me finish. Suitably puckered from this king’s ransom of citric goodness, the young man revealed—through  his tightly pursed lips—that he was the Prince, scouring the kingdom for the perfect bride to one day share his throne. Then the Prince placed said pucker on the lips of the pluperfect, might-as-well-be-a-princess Jeanne Rose, kissed her with a gentle passion and asked her to be his bride. ‘Yes, oh yes, my prince,’ she said. And they lived happily ever after.”

“Wait a minute. What about that poor bastard shoemaker?”

“Oh, yeah. Ummm, the King seeing his fine handiwork, though already having his own Italian shoemaker, named now-Princess Jeanne Rose’s father Master Saddlemaker of the Royal Tack for all his fine steeds and carriages. Which reminds me, could you give me a ride to the mall? I’m supposed to meet my prince at Starbucks in about fifteen minutes. Daddy? Daddy, did you hear me?”

“You could’ve just asked for the keys, Jeannie. They’re on the kitchen counter next to the lemons. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I may have found a way to turn this pile of chicken shit into Chicken Kiev. Or at least chicken salad.”

“Thank you, Daddy. Have fun. See you later.”

“Um-hmmm. Thank you, Princess. Enjoy your tarts. Hmmm. ‘Once upon a time, there was a…shoemaker…’?”

So I just sat to writing table today, much as the writer/shoemaker in this story. And, since my daughters are far, far away, I just started writing. And here’s what I came up with. Just dialogue. And I thought, “That was fun. Now what?” Back to the groves, I guess.

Advertisements

Blessed Sacrament

In the ever-Summer glare and heat
I found my life’s pain and regret
sanctified into something replete
with but little Hope baptized in sweat.
So the torment, no matter how holy,
still rips around my beaten heart
as if it was something mad and solely
bent and intent to rip it apart.

Perhaps I can hallow my vessel so hollow
with the heat from a different kind of light,
as good for my soul as the heart to follow,
soothing all my pain with its godly might.
And that’s why I’m here dipping pen in ink,
the black sprung from my soul to my heart.
Drawing pictures in words so we all might drink
of this sacrament that heals me called Art.

As I like to say, completing these pieces I share does not make me feel better. But all the time spent immersed in the process of writing them does. And that, my friend, is the miracle of Art, no matter how poorly rendered. 

Sesquipedalian

This poem is supposed to be about
any word that’s, you know, somewhat alien,
one that’s little known or multisyllabic,
as clear to most as if shrouded by a smoking kalian.
See, as a poet, you’d think I could pick from
a sackful, enough to share in a madrigalian.
But I’m just an opposing-thumbed, medium-brained,
somewhat upright-walking mammalian,
barely a member of the species that gave us
daVinci and Shakespeare, though not some rhychocephalian.
But if I could choose one big old word,
I’d throw a monumental party, something saturnalian.
And for those of you who love your drink,
enough libation would flow to float a bacchanalian.
But I can’t select one, so this poem’s another failure,
mostly ’cause I’m a piss-poor writer…oh, and piss-poor
sesquipedalian.

On Day #25 of the Poem-a-Day Challenge during this National Poetry (Writing) Month I was charged with picking an intriguing and/or seldom-used word, make it the title of the poem, and then, writing one. If you know me, then you know that decision-making cannot go on top of my list of strengths. It’s more like a feat of strength. So, choosing one word among the few I know (why else would I constantly make up all these hyphenated whats-it words?) was not going to happen. Hence you get this piece of spaghetti-tossed-at-the-fridge-door doggerel. Oh, and sesquipedalian means “tending to use long words,” coming from the Latin for “foot-and-a-half in length.” Works for me.

Fallen Upon This Deaf Ear

Fine, you don’t have to talk to me.
Show me the palm of your hand
and push me away. Your message
has always been clearer that way.
If we were to sit side by side,
face to face, I would only misconstrue
whatever flimsy bond of you and me
I could dream actually existing.
But I do long to feel your words
buffeting me like winds, freezing
and teasing, scolding and caressing,
their temperature and velocity
more important than their meaning.
They bump up against me and fall away
so that I must imagine their substance
and insinuation. But to not feel them
at all has left me voiceless,
spitting senseless utterances into a gale
where they become as lost as I am
perched here waiting to sense your meaning
if only you would speak to me once more.
Yes, I am the deaf ear to your words,
and it is I who will fall without them.

I am constantly coming closer to feeling I cannot make these clusters of words have any real meaning anymore. Be they poem or story, they lack the power, beauty and emotion of what I wrote even a couple of years ago, as far as I can tell. Maybe my misery has changed, beaten down by the silence I feel between me and the ones who fueled my creative flame. I would reach out for their words, kind or otherwise, but I’d only drop them before they reached the forge where I’d form them into something solid and shining. So you get rusty ore in this poem based on metaphor, the theme on this 15th day of April upon which I should be writing something better resembling poetry.

Battle for the Heart and Mind

I armed myself with a bottle of water,
eyeglasses, computer, and absolutely
no advance intel. This is no way
to face so cunning an enemy.
A few years ago, I’d attack these sessions
like a free-writing commando.
Sure I parachuted into the dark,
but I knew my target, its flat white topography
and the objective: break another prisoner
free from the prison of my heart.
I’d toss some metaphors into that
hardened space (like I just did),
set off a smoke grenade to hide
my true position and maybe bring a tear
to anybody who thought to watch,
and make the snatch and run.
I almost always extracted a prisoner,
though sometimes they had nothing to say
when I got them to my lines.
But somewhere along the way, I lost
my sangfroid in a story over New Mexico,
or maybe it was that poem about
how she made me a prisoner in the darkness
of our own making.
Some days I fear I no longer have
the thirst for battle, finding the pen
too heavy for the old parry and thrust.
But I can’t let those prisoners rot in there.
So I guess I’ll jump again tomorrow.

Day #9 of April 2018 PAD Challenge called for a “Battle (something)” poem. 

Spray It

This sheet of white requires
some serious spitting.
A mouth full of dark words
with which I can sully,
besmirch or otherwise defile
this expanse of pure virgin
nothing.

They don’t have to be dirty words,
though I’ve spit my share before.
They can start out muddy, though, I guess.
My desperation requires
such desecration. So I’m marshaling
as much poetic or fictive invective
as this arid mouth can hold.

I can feel it drip down the back
of my creatively parched throat.
And what spittle I’ve coughed up
is this hairball croak you’ve
just read.

Thank God for that.

A tribute to the writers who have experienced the paralysis by analysis of the blank page and even blanker mind. Sometimes you just have to open your creative mouth and let it rip. Just start writing…anything. And so I did.

Another Slice of Blood Orange

 

Sometimes I sit here
in the dark and ask myself
why I started this,
this burning of lifetime
spitting words into the air
like orange pits or
like blood from a split lip.
Wasn’t for any notoriety
since no one was supposed
to read them but me
and a very few who wondered
what the hell this was about.
And it wasn’t to write books,
lord knows, since I’d forgotten
how to read them years ago,
let alone write them.
It wasn’t, like you said,
for the approbation, since
I never belong with anyone.
Couldn’t be for what you call
stroking, since I’m unused to,
uncomfortable with touching.
I guess it was for a kind of
recognition, though, because
over these past ten years,
I might finally have recognized
my futile, inky-souled nature,
the guy spitting out orange pits
and blood to myself for myself.

My take on Robert Lee Brewer’s Wednesday poetry prompt in Writer’s Digest last week. He wanted a Recognition poem. I found the prompt and poem in my sleeplessness around 3:00AM this morning. Ahhh…throwback to the dark solitude of my Insomniac Poet days.