I haven’t written any poetry in a long time.
I’ve been hoarding my words,
Saving them up to binge on a novel,
Or at least, on a short story.
I put myself on a word diet
And now I’m starving for a juicy symbol,
A perfectly ripe metaphor,
Or a pithy phrase.
Give me a meal of good, meaty couplets with a side of canzone,
A saucy limerick or two,
A haiku snack
When nobody is watching, I’ll pile my plate high
With nouns, adjectives, adverbs,
Suck the marrow from verbs
To feel their energy in my belly.
I’m so tired of high-fiber non-fiction;
Empty calories of self-help, and dry, tasteless news.
If I knew I was going to die tomorrow,
I’d never stop swallowing poems whole.
Yesterday as I was attempting to forget about all the housework I have to do, I decided to do a little on my files. I keep all my media on an external hard drive, and backed up on a second one just for the sake of safety, and sometimes things get, well, messy. I don’t often tackle that kind of clean-up because inevitably I’ll do something bone-headed and lose files. (Before you ask, yes I was bone-headed yesterday too, but I got the files back.)
By late last night, though, I’d managed to clean up all my fiction files, and was feeling pretty good about it, so I stopped to take a look at some of the oldest ones, documents that had been following me around from computer to computer for almost twenty years (The earliest I can find are dated 1992.) and which are so old that they have extensions like .rtw and .lgh. Yeah, that was about the time I got my first PC and I totally did NOT understand the file-naming conventions, so I changed all the .doc file names to ones which reflected the content of the file. Silly girl…
In the process of changing them all back to .doc I read a bunch of them, and something happened. Not only did I find the work really interesting, and some of it quite good enough to go back to, but I remembered how I felt when I was writing it. I remembered the sheer pleasure I’d taken in writing these things. Not just an intellectual pleasure but a visceral one. I loved writing them.
Now it’s not like I haven’t felt that with other things, but what I realized last night was that the process of writing has become more mechanical for me in the last years. I have moments where I find that feeling of flow again, but nothing like what I remember from these early files when I was writing exactly what I wanted without any thought of selling it or making it fit any sort of fannon. I was writing it for me, and that made me happier than anything else.
I’m not saying that what I do now is bad; I enjoy being a writer and I sure enjoy being paid for it. But I haven’t felt that sheer joy in a long time and I’m wondering if I need to go looking for it again. It’s out there, I know it is. It’s just a matter of finding the path again. I’m thinking that those files are a map, and I’m ready to see where they take me.
I wrote this earlier on Facebook and thought I’d repost here.
Y’know I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject lately, for obvious reasons. And it occurred to me that the people who wholeheartedly believe in the whole rapture-hell on earth-apocalypse thing really have to be some of the angriest people in the world. Think about it: Their whole world is focused on one thing, the day God takes the “saved” up to Heaven (always assuming they’ll be in that company) and turns earth into a living hell for the rest of us for five months until He ends all life. Amen. What are they saying?
This is a very select club. Only something like 200 million people out of ALL the people who ever lived will be taken to Heaven. What percentage is that, really? This is like all the popular kids in school who told you you weren’t good enough to hang with them.
Once you’re saved, you’re saved. You can be all kinds of shitty and still go to Heaven because you’re in that club.
After the rapture, the earth will be horrible, unlivable. That’s another big “fuck you” to the rest of us, isn’t it? I mean really, isn’t that what they’re saying? It’s not bad enough that they’re sure the rest of us will be going to Hell but we’ll have five months of a Hell Lite preview to live through just so God can rub our noses in the fact that we weren’t part of His select club.
And then God destroys what’s left, we all die and roast in Hell or whatever other horrible punishment is waiting for us.
Nice huh? Talk about hostile. No I do NOT want to be part of a club like that, thank you very much.
She’s shaking her finger at me from the Great Wherever because I only ran a load of dishes when I ran out of forks. I’m sure she despaired of me ever finding a husband (She was right.) or being able to keep house to her standards. (Also right.) On the other hand I’m turning into a gardener and for that alone she would be proud.
Yesterday, Glinda and I rented a car and went to Home Despot to buy some plants. We were very precise about it, too, making a list of the things we needed: four plants or plant groupings for the empty pots on the front porch, a cilantro plant because starting cilantro from seed is like engraving the Lord’s Prayer on the head of a pin, tedious and fairly pointless unless you absolutely have to. We needed a few other, non-green items and that was it. Nothing else. Nothing.
We came home with marigolds, a calla, a big pot of zinnias and a pretty variegated heuchera for the front porch, plus a pot of red geraniums and something blue which name I can’t recall, a couple of coreopsis, two bright red anemones, a rosemary plant, a hot pink azalea (To be fair, I had intended to get another for the back.) and a plant for my desk. I think there was something else but I’m blanking on it now.
Today I ordered plants from Wayside garden. It was the last day of their free shipping and I wanted to get in on that. I ordered a vine to put against the garage:
This is a Vitis Amurensis which is a kind of grapevine. It’ll give us some much-needed color in the fall. Also ordered a couple of roses, Cinco de Mayo and Enchanted Evening:
I added a couple of ferns and a couple of hosta that aren’t the usual things you see all over the place in preparation for building a rockery around the magnolia tree. I’ve got in a request for an estimate from Schwake Stone, which is a company my mother did business with for many years. I expect it’ll prove to be too expensive to have them build it, but I need to find that out for sure before I commit myself and my friends to hernias and all manner of injury schlepping rocks.
I just heard Glinda come in the door so I’m going to stop here. We’re going out in back to work in the garden a bit. I want to haul some of the stuff I got at The Chalet out there and get it placed. Maybe put Starina back in one of the beds and swap out the electric cords for the lights so we can turn them on of an evening. It’s getting to be that time of year when we want to go out and sit in the warm darkness and sip wine or the occasional gin and tonic.
I just got a note in email telling me that my old friend, Marian Kelly, had passed. I knew she’d suffered a massive stroke; Sammie emailed me on Monday, I think it was, to tell me that news. Marian wasn’t a youngster, and a massive stroke… well it felt like the end of the line. And so it was; she passed away on Wednesday, becoming the third of my friends to die within the last six months after Pam Berry and Diana Barbour.
It’s not a huge surprise; I’m getting to the age where my friends are going to be dying. But what is inevitable is not necessarily easy. I do miss them. With each person you lose you get cut a little looser from life, you drift out a bit more into the unknown waters. I don’t want to be the last one left, drifting endlessly, out of sight of any land, but I don’t want anyone I love and who loves me to have to cope with my loss either. It’s a quandary.
I thought I wanted to write this, to say good-bye to Marian, who inspired a wonderful, goddess-like character in a shared world, who was a wonderful writer, who taught me a lot about how to write. I thought I wanted to wax rhapsodic about her life and how remarkable she was, but I find I’m just sad now. And somehow memories don’t seem like enough.
So let me say a quick farewell to Marian and let it go: Marian, you were a remarkable woman. I will miss you. Blessed be.
If you knew Marian, you’ll know why I posted this photo. If you didn’t… I leave you to imagine what it means.