Let's Speak The Same Language

Monday, June 18, 2018


One-hundred twenty-six people looked in a couple of days ago to see what's happening here. I finally put together the ms Wrestling Hanshan and sent it off to a contest, but, today, Monday, I feel so out of it that not a creative synapse is firing within the old cranium. Nada, even in a clean well-lighted room like this Starbucks I'm sitting in. Increasingly, I experience these hazy mornings, lethargic and uncreative. I checked four movies out of the library this morning. Maybe I need to go home and watch one. An odd movie is A Ghost Story.

I've also again taken out of the library the book American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, Volume One. Bios for each poet in the volume are included. You'd be surprised how many of their lives end in suicide. Also the range of poetry is surprising. Many wrote in styles I just do not understand. Last month's Poetry Magazine out of Chicago was dedicated to Native Americans who write poetry. Most of their poems were totally beyond my experience to understand. Don't get it, not at all. Why write poetry that most will not understand unless they take a college course? Even Bill Williams understood. Of course, he then wrote many poems that are hard to understand, even for a intelligent gent like myself. 

I wanted to write a poem
that you would understand.
For what good is it to me
if you can’t understand it?
                        — W.C. Williams


Wednesday, June 6, 2018


Today, my task is to complete a table of contents for a 76 poem ms of 8 line poetry. I'm entering it in a contest with deadline of June 30th. I guess I'll call it Wrestling Hanshan as is the longer ms entitled that I've selected the poems from.

I've been kind of down these past few days. This morning I went in to get a blood draw to test my PSA level. I was scheduled to go in June 1, but I held back. It's been six months since last test and I fear, for no good reason at all, the PSA level is on its way up. I'll soon know. If so, the cancer would be back. Last two days have felt very tentative and melancholy. I made the mistake of watching a video about Roger Ebert last night—Life Itself. He died of cancer. The man had no lower jaw, could not eat or drink the final years of his life. It was not uplifting to watch.

Yesterday, I rode the Max into Portland just to change pace. Read Milosz's poetry and sat around at sidewalk tables, watching people. Tried to write some poetry but haven't looked at it today to see if anything still clicks. The rewrite of the novel Ghoul World draws near, I think. The impulse to write poems seems to have eased.

Monday, May 21, 2018


That's Milosz.
People who checked in on this blog have triggered me to do this entry. Eighty-two looked in yesterday. I have more or less finished with writing the eight line poetry for the book Wrestling Hanshan. I plan one or two more read throughs before looking at contests to enter it into. Am submitting them in groups of five to lit. mags. I have written 120 of them. That may be too many for a book. Some contests limit total number of pages. Thus one read through will be to mark any that would go first if I had to trim the length and another to get an idea how it sounds in my head start to finish.

Off Topic: today I bowled two games at a local alley. First time in four or more years and following the radiation treatments. I bowled 99 and 102. The first time I bowled I was in my early teens, and I failed to break 100. Never since that time until today have a failed to break the century mark. In my heyday, I could break 200 on a semi-regular basis. You can see the arc of a life in my bowling experience. I was too weak to control the ball and missed my spot nearly every time, although I did get two strikes in a row, the only marks in my 102 game.

The other day, I was writing in our local Barnes & Noble, and I want to support them, so I bought a collection of the poetry of Czeslaw Milosz, Nobel Prize winner. Beautiful stuff, and I can understand some of them. They touch me. Buy books at your local book stores, small and large. Amazon will do okay without us.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018


Professor Heinricks
Sixty-three people looked in yesterday to Silent Boomer, and I'm shamed that I'm just not keeping up with writing blog entries. I'm nearing the end of the 8 line poems for my ms Wrestling Hanshan. I must still look over seven more of Hanshan's lüshis with an eye to wrestling with him over them or singing harmony with him whichever occurs as best. It's a very friendly musical contest between poets of like temperament. Next project is to return to the novel Ghoul World to rewrite and correct several accidentally comic passages. Another movie is in my mind, but it's so awfully serious, I don't know if I have the temperament anymore to pull it off without laughing like Hanshan.

I was encouraged when I emailed Robert G. Heinricks, Preston Kelsey Professor of Religion, Emeritus, at Dartmouth. Beside his other accomplishment, his translation of Hanshan's 300 poems were the ones I first sought after Gary Snyder brought Hanshan [Cold Mountain] to my attention 25 years ago. You see, I have doubts about this little known poet that I am attempting to compare and contrast my poetry with the impressive
lüshis of Hanshan. I sent along three of my 8 line poems, and Professor Heinricks was kind enough to answer and encourage me. He thought my work sounded like Hanshan's work and that is exactly what I want my work to do. Interesting to me that a happily married city atheist like myself can feel in his bones very like a semi-religious hermit poet from China who wrote 12 centuries ago. But I have had some legitimate fears about how men and women who read Chinese and who have studied Buddhism and Hanshan will respond to my presumption. Thank you, Professor Heinricks, for your encouragement. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018


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


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


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.