Monday, November 30, 2009

I Suck at Guitar Hero...

Running affords more scenery, but not deeply seeing what is there. More deeply than driving or riding a bike, but not as deeply as walking. Or stopping.

Sometimes seeing more is the thing. Sometimes seeing deeply. I need both, in turns, and maybe even at the same time.

The act of running, walking, stopping--the form and shape and substance of a run, journey, trek, is like the act of writing, of what form and shape writing takes. Whether prose, poetry, prose poem, fragment, meditation, essay, or if it includes all these components depends on what it has to say and how it needs to be said.

I suck at Guitar Hero. And I am cool with that. I see how I might get better at it if I spent some time playing it over and again and then think about the waste of time that would be versus spending on the things I want to focus on (don't worry, I've got plenty of other things to waste my time doing ;)

C.D. Wright, Gary Snyder, William Bronk, and Robert Hass regularly amaze, inspire, and confound me. Forrest Gander is starting to do the same as I read more of him.

I think about how to take/push my writing to the next level (whatever that may mean). How to make my words and thoughts worthy of the page, worthy of the canon, worthy of their (the words') readers and the time they give to reading them. I think how cool it would be to be taught by my writing models, by those whose words inspire me, provoke me, make me want to write, to be a part of that tradition, that expression. To have an audience with them. But also to have that time to dedicate. To writing.

And then I think that by finding them (the writers); by reading and re-reading; by studying and talking about them; they are already teaching me.

What I need to write the way and stuff I want to write is to commit. Again. Each day. To commit to myself. To commit to the writing. Commit to the time, commit to the study. Commit to putting word to paper or screen. To let fly. To revise. To throw away and start again and continue until things properly kick ass.

Get to the odd rhythm. The unpredictable line. The song that surprises,
circumscribes a rhombus in place of a box step.

Snare the word in the corner that nobody else saw, or wanted. Marley's refused builder's stone.

Plumb the deep for symbols. The ones that wash the soul in recognition, that speak the names and mind and image.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


William Carlos Williams had a thing for red wheelbarrows. He didn't use a lot of words, but flung it out there as a symbol of everything being tied together, interconnected, if you will. And whether a wheelbarrow, red or otherwise, a farmer, or a pot of flowers, things that Williams experienced is what made itself onto the page. Objects and direct experience influenced his writing. How could they not, eh?

I, too, have been under the influence. Of the stuff I run into on a walk, or a run, or subjects or thoughts that come up in conversation. Of music, sometimes new-to-me stuff like Langhorne Slim or Blind Pilot, other times stuff I am coming back to, like Bob Marley, Mingus, or Hendrix.

I've been heavily influenced by Mr. Williams' notion and example that poetry, or writing, for him focused on the local, what's right around you, rather than having to fly off across the (big) pond. I've been pulled by what has put itself in front of the camera lens, or in some cases, what has turned up as the image later.

I've been inspired by a poet named Frank O'Hara, whose book "Lunch Poems," has served as a guide, a call to action, and an inspiration, for the 30 Days Project I'm in the midst of. O'Hara's book was largely written on his daily lunch breaks as he walked around New York. And it fits well in a pocket, so it sometimes accompanies me on my lunch break and/or walk up town into St. Michaels. The other folks I'm reading, from Gary Snyder to Robert Hass, from C.D. Wright to Tony Hoagland, are all taking root in one way or another.

And I've been vibing on the local, the people around me. By two teachers, who make the time to write and play music and recently threw their new CD my way, which makes my mind cruise along with it, as well as kicks me in the arse to question how productive I am with my own free time. By an artist friend and several year source of pants-kicking, Rob Brownlee-Tomasso, who makes a commitment to spend time in his studio each night working on a new painting or series of paintings. By a cat who Mike Keene and I had a chance (loaded word) encounter with on the Appalachian Trail, who ended up moving to the Eastern Shore for a time, buying a sailboat from Mike, has fixed it up, and is neck-deep in his dream to spend time sailing it all over the place (currently cruising down the intercoastal to South Carolina, I believe). You can follow Woody's saga here (any blog called "The Peanut Butter Diet" is worth something!) And by other writers in the round, including another now Easton writer/blogger, whose frequent soulful posts and tip on Gary Snyder's book, "The Real Work," has opened up some new avenues, or country roads, or singletrack trails of thought.

This influence is a funny thing. It's what I encounter, it's what I read, it's who I run into, it's who I run with, it's what I do with my time, it's being present and mindful around our girls, to hear the endless creativity they employ not just daily, but minute to minute. It's all connected. And because we're all in different places and the culmination of own points influence and experiences, it's all unique. Uh-oh. The same, all connected, but all unique. Well, that sounds like a paradox to me...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Two Churches

The shaman looked for God in the church,
but He was not there.

The activist looked for God by meditating,
but He was not there.

The priest looked among the waves
and the mountain climber between pews,

Blake said that 'one law for the lion and the ox
is oppression.' Blake's law looks nice on a coffee table.
It's fair game over cocktails.

God isn't invited to cocktail parties. He's not up for debate.
Not allowed to be relative or

We'll let men name our laws, we don't lose sleep over oppression.
But don't let God be found somewhere we're not looking. We want
God on our terms.

The shaman surveys the land and searches his spirit.

The activist changes the world through good works.

The priest contemplates in prayer and
the climber summits truth.

Each knows what they need.