Oddments

In search of story


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July 12.20: Coping

My muse! Impertinent,

wayward thing!

Taunting me

on mighty wing!

Graceful she,

in bluest height,

indifferent

as I try to write.

I watch her float,

from earth unbound,

while I, like stone,

am stuck to ground.

In those clouds

vocabulary,

eloquence

extraordinary.

She could bring it

to cloddish me,

but prefers to soar

metaphorically.


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June 26.20: Coping

Well, dear reader, here it is again: writer’s block/slump/wasteland — call it what you will. I’ve been a big blank for over a week now. Yesterday I spent hours on a thought, trying to transfer it to words. I think I wore out the delete key.

What a mystery writing is. Not that I’m telling you anything you don’t know. Why do the words come and why do they not come? Where do they go, for heaven’s sakes?

I’ve not caught a glimpse of my muse, except perhaps in a particularly muscular buzzard, a.k.a. turkey vulture, hauling roadkill into the woods. Usually she’s a hawk, but she could have morphed. Right now I’d happily call her a buzzard. Now there’s a word. Don’t you love words that mean something just by the way they sound? Have you ever seen the book “Sound and Sense” by Laurence Perrine? My tattered, moldy copy dates back to my college days in the 60s. It says it’s about poetry but I don’t think so; it’s about the way the sound of a word makes it the perfect choice. Meaning isn’t the whole of it. The word must sound with the meaning. That’s prose, too. Just ask Sam Clemens.

I hope you are well, dear reader, and can still cling to sanity.

 


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June 18.20: Coping

I see many references to isolation and aloneness these days. As an introvert, I’m comfortable with aloneness. Usually content with my own company, I do not crave the madding crowd. Aloneness isn’t always loneliness.

But I haven’t been with my family since March 6. No hugs for three months! There’s loneliness in that, as many elderly (and not-so-elderly) know.

It has recently occurred to me that there is another dimension to my aloneness. My close friends vary in age, but all of us have experienced family death in our parents’ generation. However, among my friends, I am the only one to have lost the sibling connection to the past; I’m the first to be The Last. This hit me as a revelation. Unaware, I’ve been grappling with a sense of aloneness among my friends.

I am an old single parent who is also The Last One of the family she grew up with — those are my particular circumstances — but I think most of us are grappling with some kind of aloneness, and maybe loneliness too, at this time. It doesn’t mean we have the same life experiences, only that we are in the same human condition. Human, but dangerously corrosive, all the more so swirled as it is with anger.

As I’ve said before, I think writers write about two things: what is, and what could be. Sometimes we can’t write about what could be until we write about what is. For me, this is what is.

 

 


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May 14.20: Coping

Thus far, dear reader, I have coped by writing and by baking, two time-tested strategies for me. They aren’t working any more. A few days ago, we were bloodied once again through the reports of a terror attack on new babies and new mothers. That was one too many for me, awash as we are in grief and fear.

I’ve been sick, as some of you know. Nothing serious, just enough to keep me from being complacent. I don’t know that I had COVID; we still don’t know if my “presumed positive” son had it. We still don’t know much about COVID. “Don’t know” is the only wisdom we have.

Having seen my family only from a distance, unable to touch them, for two months, I think I have a sliver of understanding of what it might mean to die among strangers in Intensive Care.

I am disgusted and exhausted by the flim-flam.

I’m going to step away from the blog for a few days. Each of us has to find ways to stay human in this very dehumanizing time. I am looking for my ways.

Thanks for being with me in my blog. I worry about all of you and hope you endure.

 


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April 30.20: Coping

And so, dear reader, do we come to the end of Poetry Month, which I have endeavored to mark with a poem a day. I have greatly appreciated your company along the way, and I thank you with something for today’s celebration of Poem-In-Your-Pocket Day.  I have sent this to you before, but, since it’s one of my favorites, I send it again.

THE MIRACLE OF SPRING

We glibly talk

of nature’s laws

but do things have

a natural cause?

Black earth becoming

yellow crocus

is undiluted

hocus-pocus.

                                 — Piet Hein

 

I can’t say I’m any closer to a satisfying definition of poetry. It completely eludes me why some things are considered poems. Although I try to work with rhyme, it’s not because I think rhyme makes a poem; it’s something else that makes a poem. That part is mysterious to me.

But besides marking poetry month, I wrote daily as a way of coping. Poetry month might be over, but I still have to cope, so I might continue the mighty effort to post something every day. It’s good for me to try. I hope you are finding ways to cope, too. The anguish of this time is real and deep and we have to find ways to hold on to our humanness.


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April 29.20: Coping

What do we know?

Could we write unafraid?

Would anyone read it?

Would it get a good grade?

Are we grounded in anything

we’d write and then sign,

with sacred Honor, Fortune,

and Life on the line?

What do we know

winnowed by living,

what grain of belief

left for our scrivening?

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg

for the nostalgic image,

and to Thomas Jefferson

for the enduring words.

 


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April 20.20: Coping

I’m suburban born and bred,

I barely know horse from cow,

but if I climbed into its rafters

could I hide from the here and now?

A writer could find refuge

in this place of certain story,

strong in tattered red,

rustic allegory.

I wouldn’t be much bother

amid the hay and clover;

I’d leave the very minute

this wretchedness is over.

 

It doesn’t sound very brave, does it, dear reader?

I don’t feel very brave.

 

More thanks to photographer S.W.Berg.

 


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March 15.20

This would be a beautiful morning were it in November and were we not in the world we are now in. The snow is falling thick and white out of a grey sky onto a brown world. The pond is black and shivering. Yes, there are buds, and, yes, there are tips of daffodils and a brilliant purple star of a crocus in the front yard.

But the darkness prevails. As we all know, the darkness is internal. The light, when it comes, will be internal too.

I have not been able to upload new photos into my blog posts. WordPress tells me I have a “New Home” in which I can “learn and grow.” I don’t want someone else to decide when and how I should learn and grow and whether I need a new home. As trivial as this is in the grand scheme of things, this change is the last thing I want to deal with right now. So I have not been posting. But I think of you, dear reader, with concern.

As writers we have two obligations, I think: one is to write what is, and the other is to write what could be. It’s a delicate balance these days as we try to acknowledge what is and not get mired down in it. We do have to keep one eye on that little purple star, which is at present huddled into itself against the cold.

 

 

 

 


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January 10.20

This, dear reader, is a photo of my muse, morphed once again into something elusive. The size of a turkey, in a tree full of air, she either stupidly thinks she is hiding or sadistically revels in my awareness of her.

That is, therefore, where I am: in a tree full of air. No words. Nothing to say. I’ve been stuck, wordless, for over a week. I’ve tried many times, here, there, and everywhere, to summon a thought, a word. My muse is out there peering at me through barren twigs, with a look that says “What are you going to do about it?” She knows I can’t fly so I can’t get to her to turn her upside-down and shake some words out of her.

Behind those bright black eyes swirl endless sparkling metaphors, marching feet of iambic pentameter, sentences woven of wordsilk like brilliant tapestry. And my rotten muse is keeping all that to herself.