Let's Speak The Same Language

Sunday, April 8, 2018

BEATNIKING OUT THE LÜSHIS

Thank you to the 81 people who checked in yesterday to see what I'm about. I have written 89 new lüshis by now, my goal to be 100 of them, for the manuscript I now call Wrestling Hanshan, and I have submitted my prostate cancer manuscript You Wake One Morning, Remembering to the Pittsburg University Press and The Iowa University Press contests. Last year, I submitted the ms to the Walt Whitman Prize of the Academy of American Poets. It was recently returned. The form letter was very encouraging, and I had to ask myself hopefully if they send back rejections in more than one form. Of course, the rejection is just being professional, so why does my mind want to make something special about it? The Pittsburg submission process asked for my curriculum vitae. Ha! What curriculum vitae? I sent in my list of publications (several pages) and honors (few as they are). 

Recently, after watching yet another coming of age film through sturm und drang of a young female protagonist, my brain—of its own volition of course—began working on a stormy film of my own, beginning with the scene after my first divorce when at age 36 I awoke from a dream of my infant self trapped in a VW with a snow monster in the passenger seat staring down at me who lay in the driver's seat from which I awoke, crying out in a pitiful child voice, "Mamma, Mamma," while tears streamed down my cheeks... I kid you not.

Friday, March 23, 2018

DAMS, DAMN IT

Coming out of my cold at 15 days time, still coughing, however, from time to time. Three lüshis yesterday and four lüshis today. They must have been stuck behind the damn of phlegm in my throat, waiting for the strength to push their way out. That's all the news I've got today. Thank you to those still following this ancient beatnik from the Silent Generation. These days, I feel my not so silent observations come from a unique viewpoint in time, so listen up, everybody. Laugh here if you must or want to. I'm so glad I discovered Hanshan [Cold Mountain] 25 years ago during a summer of great internal freedom.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

COLD FRONT LANDS IN BEATNIK'S THROAT

Thanks to the 111 people who checked in on this writer's blog today. Excuse: a week ago last Friday, my throat grew scratchy. On Saturday the 10th, my itchy throat turned into a full blown cold that is still with me today in the form of a cough that keeps me awake many hours of the night. Not much energy for creative writing in all that time. Up to that Friday, the 8 line poems continued to come at the pace of about "one a day"... like the vitamin pill. I hope to write one today before I head home. After so much time not creating anything, I sort of lose myself and feel adrift. Yesterday, in a funk, I told my wife she needed to quit her job, and we'd go down and live on the Gulf Coast, an old fantasy of mine that preceded my meeting with her. She laughed, "And we'd live off your social security?" She's been a peach through all this, making dinner when she gets home when it's my job to do that during the week. 

My son and daughter-in-law visited last week for a day and a night, and now my son reports a sore throat. That's the first symptom. I felt a little ashamed in that the dishes were piled high on the counter next to the sink and no food in the house and I wasn't up to cooking. Took them out to dinner and lunch next day. They were uncomplaining, and we had a great visit full of enlightening conversation.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

COLD MOUNTAIN/OLD GRAYHOUSE, COMPARE AND CONTRAST

What can I say about my tardiness in making entries in this blog? I have no excuse except the writing of lüshis is carrying me away, and I hesitate to keep using that as an excuse. I think constantly about rewriting Ghoul World, but the creative juices that flow as I write these 8 line poems can't be resisted at this time. As any writer knows, you can't stop one project to start another without totally destroying the state of mind that is driving the first project. My aim is to put together a ms of 100 lüshis before I stop, but if my drive cools down before I reach 100, then, of course, I'll stop. Not more than a few months back, I thought all creative juices had dried up for this 80 year old, but Hanshan's poetry is serving as a springboard for my own work. I've reached a stage where I use Red Pine's translations of Hanshan's work as my starting point. I see some of Hanshan's work as being that of a reclusive and sometime moralizing ancient poet in a rural landscape whereas I'm a modern poet in an urban landscape. Thus I use Hanshan's work as sometimes a contrasting force for my lüshis and sometimes as a comparative force. I'd give you and example, but I'm seeing repeatedly that many literary marketplaces don't want to see submissions of anything that's been published in blogs so I'm mute at this time.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

THE SLOGGING OR DASHING BEATNIK

Thank you, Clark, for the image....
I now have enough lushis [8 line poems] to create a book. In addition, I have enough decent poems spread over the years to make at least another book. Adding in the book of poetry I created during my years with prostate cancer and the two self-published books, I have probably six books of poetry already in the can [to borrow from old film lingo]. None of them are anything like the poetry of Clark Coolidge, but poets are a varied lot. 

Ahead of me, still awaits another — the sixth or seventh — rewrite of my sci fi novel Ghoul World. I feel so many good bursts of energy as I work over the rewrites of my poems that I hate to stop to work on Ghoul World. The reworking of a novel requires long periods of slog during which I feel no reward as compared to the rewriting and creation of poetry that offer short bursts of feeling good reward. Not only that, I've been reading modern science fiction and it appears to me that my novel reveals a writer born in a past generation whose style and subject matter might be outdated. But here's a troubling thought. I've read pieces of modern sci fi written by my younger peers that reveal no familiarity with past literature when it comes to good grammatical writing. It can only be their subject matter that causes librarians to choose such poorly written novels. I don't feel any sour grapes when I note this trend. I hope it's just an observation. After all, grammar and word choice does change as the generations unfold, and a writer would be a fool not to accept that fact.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

NO MOMMY TO COME TO THE AID OF THIS OLD BEATNIK

I've let too much time between entries elapse again and have no excuse. I've been working hard on poetry as my last few entries reveal. I've been sidetracked toward the short stories of David Foster Wallace — his Brief Interviews With Hideous Men. A suicide. I must admit all my early years I was unknowingly attracted to the writing of alcoholic males so who could I be but one of those? Only later did I find out how true that was. It's not the sort of thing that a young man can see into about himself and his taste in literature. Of course I was attracted to the poetry of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton too so it's no wonder that at age 31 or so, I would crash my car on purpose by going around a curve at a speed I knew would cause a wreck. Lucky for someone they weren't coming around the curve the other way. Lucky for me too, because three years of counseling and ending drinking eventually led me out of the despair I was living in. Unlike Sexton and Plath, my depression seems to have been curable, situational rather than genetic, but I lived in deep enough despair for long enough time to get an idea what that feels like. I feel sad for Sexton and Plath and Hemingway and Williams. 

I keep turning my mind to rewriting my sci fi novel and others too, my basic bucket list, but poetry has me by the throat and won't let go. I always want to put short poems into my blog but, recently, I've noticed that some lit mags don't want to read anything that has appeared even on a blog. The hell with it. It's not one of my best, but it's recent and it's all this 80 year old can do... and it happened to me so why not? My wife will like it.


A CHILDHOOD SURPRISE

Tricycles are fun.
Tricycles are safe.
You won’t fall over unless …
you peddle too fast,
and get all caught up in the joy of speed,
and your shoe slips from the peddle,
and your toe is grabbed by the spokes,
then you tip over quite violently
and cry and screech till mommy comes
if there’s a mommy to come
but if there’s no mommy to come
then you cry for a very long time
a very long time indeed.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

THE SAME OLD ME WHEREVER

A pretty photo for your entertainment...
This will be a short one. The book American Poetry: twentieth century, Vol I is a marvelous and all inclusive accomplishment. Musicians are included and folk poetry, more black poets and women poets than probably few other collections of 20th Century poets have included, though I can't be certain of that fact, but it certainly represents a wide range of poetic forms and poets too. 

In my mind, my new bucket list includes the follow item — "to write as many good and true poems as I can in my 80s."  Today I finished another rewrite of the poetry ms of lüshi [a Chinese form of 8 line poetry employed by my current poet hero, Hanshan]. Here's one of them. The idea certainly isn't new, but it's my expression of the idea "wherever you go, there you find yourself."


LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION

After all my early tramping, Hanshan, you’d think I’d recall,
But the urge to get away always got in the way.
I’d hope a new hat rack might hold everything the old could not.
Off I’d go on a wing and a prayer, wearing my chapeau at a jaunty angle.
To hell with everything I left behind — wife, kids, the rental payment.
In those days, I never could afford a mortgage to nail my feet.
Of course the new hat rack functioned very much like the old,
And I’d find myself again, the same old me in the mirror behind the bar.