Blogging last thing, today, rather than first thing, because I spent my normal blog-time this morning on a dilemma that is so esoteric and nerdy and navel-gazing, I shouldn’t even mention it. But I’ll mention it :)
I posted my first blog on April 19, and it was my intention to publish something every day [possible] for a calendar year, regardless of what other original-thought successes or failures I might experience, and regardless of whether I attracted a readership or not. Regardless of everything, really, including even whether I believed in it, as a project, or not.
Today is February 5, so I’m not there yet. But I have posted 224 blogs in 290-ish days. I haven’t marketed at all, and in fact I’ve canceled my existing social media accounts except for Twitter in the course of this year, so frankly I have no idea how people find me. I’ve attracted a readership from 85 countries, comprised of 3,742 unique visitors who’ve willingly engaged my content 8,112 times.
I know in the world of the internets that’s small fry, but the fact that almost every visitor reads at least two things is something I’m proud of. I mean, I don’t read two things if I don’t like the first thing, y’knaw’mean?
And I’m the mixxiest of mixed bags, I freely admit. If anyone has a sense of what my next day’s blog will be about, they should DM me because I sure don’t.
More on all that later maybe; first: my esoteric dilemma. To continue in the short prose/essay form, which I’m feeling fairly proficient with now, at least my version of proficient, OR…to shift to something perhaps more challenging, perhaps less accessible to (constructively) me, and (perhaps unconstructively), my audience, such as…poetry?
Let me tell you about my experience with poetry.
I went to grad school for creative nonfiction, meaning, like, this shit I do here every day with the blog. Because I knew I could do that, and my application essay proved that a Tier 3 school was delighted to have me onboard. Yay! But because school is for stretching yourself into previously inaccessible skillsets, or else you’re doing it wrong, I signed up for fiction workshops and poetry workshops, obviously. I didn’t have to, but I did.
Fiction: nailed it. Got an award. Turns out it’s awesome, and I can be a lot more poetic in my fiction because I’m not so busy being myself, ie an entirely non-poetic person. When you write fiction, you escape the confines of yourself in some major ways, and so frankly it’s only because I like myself, and being myself, so much, that fiction remains on the back burner. I wrote an epic short story, not to toot my own horn, about a sexually transmitted crisis of conscience that perhaps I will remember to publish here on the blog, for your perusal.
Poetry: like this?
Okay, like this?
This was my first, humiliatingly rhyming, poetry submission:
The Knowing of Things
Ever less containing, and ever more contained,
failing ever onward still I artfully evince
that mandate of humanity, to Know and to Proclaim,
the relentless Making of relentless Sense —
I chew my lower lip, unconvinced.
Resigned then, I apply myself, become opinionated,
teasing from the vulgar grey skeins of black and white
as if the hope for warm, safe beds could somehow be equated
with evidence and arguments. The burlesque of being Right
is to conquer every star, but not the night.
If childhood is amnesty from Knowing and Proclaiming
all the certitudes accumulated, as along we go:
failing ever onward, Knowing every Thing —
what to say? How to be? Where to go?
then I don’t know. I don’t Know. I don’t know.
Obviously I set myself about the task of writing poetry that didn’t rhyme, or at least rhymed less (this was truly difficult for me), cheeks ablaze with shame.
Things like this began to emerge:
Storm Tossed / Landlocked: A Juxtaposition
Wrench the heartsick corners up;
blink away the itching brine.
Composed: no one knows.
Undertow’s the same
solute as wave’s crescendo.
Un-catch, you hot, flutter choked throat.
Time runs too short for stony stares;
or, so long that vines wither into garrotes,
and words come late, or few, or cold.
Stormy eye-lashed rivulets, splash
your fire onto snow.
Feel all, or none, in sea clapped waves,
And say that later renderings
will show this lamp lit, capsized street
as what I greenly chose.
Refocus and juxtapose: —
stamp off winter, coat on hook,
layers off, glove lost.
Frost has filigreed
the breath blinded window panes.
Unstick, you needle, scratch your sound
through chasms shiny, black, and tight.
Old time-y tenor, tinny, floats, pocked with age;
Music and warmth, encapsulate,
like yellow headlights sighing through
a shiny tinsel rain.
Stay long, and longer, feasting; fed
Faerie bread and thimble water.
Wake up! The season’s scattered, blown.
How long was I away?
Too many rhymes! Still tacky af! The power of Christ compels me to RELEASE…THESE RHYMES…from my BODY! Classmates were like, “yeah but what does it mean?”
I was like, Ummm…I can either get into that headspace or I can know what it means. Pick one.
I discovered that I could write “prose poems”! It was the perfect milieu. I could say things almost like I normally said them, but just…allow it to be more visual, or more emotional. Less cause-and-effect, more like the way you feel when you’re inebriated, or sleepy, or in love.
Things like this, with zero rhymes, began to emerge:
Gray and Red and Green
When I was very young, I knew about car crashes, and to me they held all the terror and mystery of, say, dragons that slaughtered helpless villagers in the books I read, or third world dictators that slaughtered additional helpless villagers, like on the news.
I think this over-awareness may have been unwittingly introduced by my pragmatic father. He had grown up amongst animals who lived and died microcosmically, allowing him and his siblings to infer themselves as subjects of the same processes. Lacking the gentle examples of his own childhood, he wanted my brother and I to understand, to be prepared.
I remember sitting on his knee and blinking as he snapped his fingers in illustration: “We could all go just like that! I might live to be a hundred, or die tomorrow! We don’t know.”
Abe, three years my elder and having already cultivated nonchalance, seemed to take this in stride, but I developed a system wherein each daily goodbye could easily double as an ultimate Goodbye, just in case. “Goodbye, love you, drive safe, be careful, see you later, love you!,” I would chant, with pious fervor and appropriate rearrangement of specificities, each time a family member departed from my presence.
We didn’t fly, and we didn’t have a fireplace, and we didn’t live in the city — in fact, the only unifying feature of all the places we did live was an unmitigated ruralism, which demanded long car trips to shopping cities or people’s houses — and so I thought that, if disaster ever befell us, it would be in the form of a car crash.
Then when I was seven, we were in a car crash. I remember the side of the farm truck swinging into view and then becoming massive, blocking out every other thing in the windshield, like a final planetary approach filling up the view screen of a spaceship;and firmly telling myself, “This is a car crash. This is a car crash.” As if successfulidentification of the fact might allay its monstrosity.
Abe and I apologized to each other, after, while we waited to discover if our fatherwould live.
Me: If I wouldn’t have asked to stop and use the restroom at that gas station…!
Abe: But then I’m the one who wanted Pringles, and it ended up taking so long to get money from dad and check out…!
Me: But you wouldn’t have if I just waited to pee! We were almost to the Millers’!
We felt terrible, in any case, for having asked to stop at a gas station, and for having spent enough time there that an old farm truck, which would otherwise haveremained safely behind us on the narrow, rain slicked road, was able to dawdle by, which caused my father to accelerate into a passing maneuver when we caught up again, which he would have safely completed except the farm truck suddenly took a sharp left onto a dirt track without signaling or checking his mirrors, which resulted in a head-on collision for us and a noisy bit of jarring for him.
We weren’t wearing seat-belts, of course. “But — we were almost there,” I explained feebly, when the doctor who x-rayed me asked why not. I don’t know why we weren’t wearing seat-belts, we just hardly ever did.
So. My mother had stayed at home. The colors of the day were gray and green, rain on asphalt, quenched green fields for acres and acres either side of the road;interrupted only by strips of brown, rutted track and blips of towns we’d passed through.
The farm truck, I noticed through the twin spider-webs of the windshield — against which my father’s and brother’s foreheads had concussed, and from whose centers were suspended small shreds of skin, individual dark hairs, thin smears of blood — was also gray and green, aquamarine paint chipping off the ancient wooden slats of the cargo bed.
This is a car crash, I told myself, gray and green and red. I don’t remember beingflung against the back of my brother’s seat, but apparently the bolts beneath it sheared from the force of my impact.
(We were able to inspect the poor Subaru at length, later, in the junk yard. Seeing it made me nauseous, just as I’d been after the accident; just as I felt for years after, thinking of it. I felt so sorry for it, the Subaru.)
Abruptly, then, a man and woman were there, solemn, kind, helping Abe and I intotheir white pickup truck. The heater was on, and it seemed very high up off the ground. The man asked how we felt. Abe said, softly, that it hurt to breathe. The man gave him a pillow to hold. Abe’s face was dripping blood onto the pillow, and I thought they might not want it back. Everything was sickening.
Then the ambulance came, and I climbed in — I was the only one walking or talking by that time. I sat beside a uniformed man, facing the back doors. Abe was trussed up to my left, along the length of the ambulance, with plastic in his nose and bandages on his face. I don’t remember seeing my dad, until days later. I think they took him in another ambulance, before us.
“How old are you?” the man asked, smiling at me.
I smiled back. “Seven.”
“You’re very brave. They’re gonna be okay.”
I thought about being brave. My dad always hated movies and TV shows withscreaming, crying kids — “Spielberg junk,” he called it — and I thought that not screaming and crying was probably what he was talking about.
I had said my Goodbye to my mom that morning, before we left (thinking, men might break into the house and kill her while we were away, like on the news). TheGoodbye could probably be construed as having been extended from my father, through me, to her, in case he died. That, at least, was reassuring.
After my examination, I was released to the hospital lobby, in which my dad’s bestfriend, Dave Miller, was waiting to pick me up. I felt awkward holding his hand, since I usually only held my dad’s hand, but he was crying and telling me they would be okay.
So I staggered along with my poetry, and eventually got something published — a different prose poem, of course, where I’m at less of a disadvantage. I discovered another poetic form along the way, which I’ll illustrate at the end of this blog. It’s called a “found” poem, where you assemble, from the evidence of your world, in whatever fashion, something that can have the title of “poem” slapped on to it, post-assembly. It’s kind of like curating…with an eye for theme. The more obscure and/or bizarre, the better.
I received an A in the poetry workshop, shockingly. I only ever received one single B in grad school, and that was from a feminist teacher, in Women and Women’s Literature, who made no secret of objecting to my feminine manner of dress (I’m either in coveralls and steel toed boots or head to toe frills, as a rule) and the fact that I asked why Ayn Rand wasn’t on our syllabus. She would tell you I only did a B’s worth of work in her class. I was like, ‘You’re a B, goddamn.’
I didn’t say that out loud.
But I’ll tell you what. I didn’t really get poetry until a year or two later, when I encountered the poetry of Charles Bukowski.
Friends Within The Darkness
I can remember starving in a
small room in a strange city
shades pulled down, listening to
I was young I was so young it hurt like a knife
because there was no alternative except to hide as long
not in self-pity but with dismay at my limited chance:
trying to connect.
the old composers — Mozart, Bach, Beethoven,
Brahms were the only ones who spoke to me and
they were dead.
finally, starved and beaten, I had to go into
the streets to be interviewed for low-paying and
by strange men behind desks
men without eyes men without faces
who would take away my hours
piss on them.
now I work for the editors the readers the
but still hang around and drink with
Mozart, Bach, Brahms and the
sometimes all we need to be able to continue alone
are the dead
rattling the walls
that close us in.
I was like, “Oooohhhhhhhh.” Oh, you just say what the fuck you think, exactly as you think it, and let it be that. That’s how you poetry.
And to this day, every time I read a Charles Bukowski poem — one of the few authors I’ll haunt — I read his stuff, and I can actually *feel* him not giving a fuck about how I’m taking it, because that’s what was true for him when he wrote it and, sorry, but that is that. That is exactly that.
If there is any one true thing in this world, it is a person who will say what the fuck they think, period. Not because you’re listening, not because you’re not listening; not because you agree, not because you don’t agree.
Is there anything more beautiful? I think not.
The same thing that made me fall in love with Charles Bukowski made me fall in love, finally, with poetry; and the same thing that made me fall in love with poetry, made me fall in love, all over again, with writing. And years passed and stuff happened and blah, blah, seriously a lot of blah blah, but I arrived, ten years later on April 19, 2020, still in love with writing. Still in love with thinking what I thought and writing it down because that’s what I always wanted to do anyway, since I was a kid; but in large part because Charles Bukowski showed me how honest and real it could be. I was rusty, hadn’t been doing it regularly, had been working all kinds of jobs and trying to adult in all the usual ways.
But I think sometimes we can’t understand ourselves as nouns; we have to verb. I don’t know what I am, but I can exert a little control over what I do, right? Write?
So yeah. That’s what I’ve been up to, this past year-ish, minus a lot of other kerfuffling.
And this morning I was like, Damn. Am I getting too comfy? Would it be somehow more satisfying to, I don’t know…morse code at people from the insanely limiting, but eminently etheric, confines of a whole different form?
I had to put a pin in that because the day got going and I had a very exciting Zoom interview, that I will tell you all about if it goes well, and I won’t say shit about if it didn’t go well, and anyway here I am, typing away, while the fam — my beloved, really fun great fam, to include my brother and dad who survived the car crash with me, as well as my handsome sexy sweetheart Nick — watches TV and eats vegan pizza in the big room.
And you know what the point of all this has been? The silly exploration, the esoteric navel-gazing, the revisitation of myself in various forms of mostly-prostate poeticism that no one would ever venture into if they nursed any hope of anyone, anywhere, giving a fuck? It’s that things happen, happen, happen…and then we digest, digest, digest. Some of us want to digest a little more out loud than others, that’s all.
So, tonight, in honor of my obscure and entirely esoteric, navel-gazing dilemma, I’m going to construct you a brand new poem. My first poem in, gosh, I don’t know how long. Since I lived in Tucson, and that was four homes in three states, ago. And it feels incumbent upon me to borrow freely from a text-based conversation I’ve been having with a gal I don’t know well, but who I remember as being wonderful, inquisitive, and unsinkable like a cork. I never knew her well, and circumstances haven’t brought us together again so much as they’ve brought us together, apart. Or apart, together. And, to round the final base on this blog’s spontaneous theme of exploring forms of poetry — this one is a “found” poem. I’m going to call it:
You Should Really Accept My Help
I reached out after reading some concerning things on your blog.
You like Jordan Peterson because your boyfriend likes Jordan Peterson and you want him and other men to like you.
Jordan Peterson and QAnon. These associations tell me a lot about the nature of information you’re probably getting and frankly, ring bright red alarm bells for me that you might be in a troubled situation.
The good news is that you can heal yourself with help.
Coming to terms with your own femininity is a very personal and fraught experience for everyone.
You, a vegan, truck-driving boss with a free spirit, a fierce presence an open mind would get all kinds of laid at a BLM protest or LGBT pride parade, plus a full army of feminist allies supporting your lifestyle. You could raise your fist in solidarity.
Jordan Peterson says that feminism (or “cultural Marxism”) is the problem: Men and women are biologically different and the sooner we accept the status quo of gender roles, the happier we will be. Don’t do the hard work of toppling the patriarchy, just accept that patriarchy is inevitable and your enemies are the feminists.
Sloppy thinking is promoting Jordan Peterson on a vegan blog.
I tell you all this in private because I believe that everyone should be given the space to change their mind and grow as a person on their own time without being humiliated or “destroyed” in public.
When you’re ready to have a real two-sided conversation in the future, I’ll be here.
I was going to maybe improvise some “narrator” voice, but I think it’s perfect the way it is.
Welp; that’s 225 blogs in 290-ish days, and fifteen more views since I started. It ain’t much but it’s an honest living. And honest is the key word, here. I’ll never say anything, here, which I don’t feel to be my truth, if not the truth. As always, I’ll Bukowski on forwards, because that man had a knack I respect, and whoever wants to hang out when this is all over — our country, or our disagreements, whichever comes first — is welcome to be a part of the project.
I’d be remiss not to leave you with a photo of a very rare skirt I received in the mail today, swap plus cash for an equally rare item. Still a little confused about how all this being feminine stuff works but figuring it out, one betrayal of everything feminists are supposed to stand for at a time. Look at how muscly that haunch is getting!! Squats and deadlifts, I tell ya.