Lions and Lizards: Day Fifty

Day Fifty.  Shit.  Shiiiiiiiieeeeeet.

Today is a bit of a test of non-zeroing.  Because the day took over and I feel a bit like an abandoned husk, a dried leaf caught up in the wind and beginning to fray and fritter into dust as I go.  I look at my chart and the impulse to fill up all the blocks with task that better myself is still there, but I am tired.  I am really mentally drained.  I will find a way to do something more than nothing, though, which, I think is all that I am actually asking of myself.

I keep thinking there’s a way to do more or be better or faster somehow and handle everything that’s been thrown at me.  That old

The volunteer at work who edited and worked with some of the most remarkable poets before becoming our local librarian noted that poet Maxine Kumin died this month.  I hadn’t heard, but her name was one of that good canon of poets who had been handed down to me in tissue paper, to keep forever and always and on occasion, when asked and on occasion, for my own secret comfort, I will untie and unfold the soft and creaseless paper to find the surface of their work.  Say this is a place I have mapped and if we take off our shoes we can walk lightly on its edges until we’ll come around again.

While I won’t put this down on the white board as some attempt to work and exercise my brain, I read the New Yorker obituary about Maxine.  Read some of her poems and immediately wanted more.  Found, “In the Park,” which feels perfect apropos.  Melancholy, sharp and strong, like the tissue paper hid an awl.   From there, I see Anne Sexton’s face and think she looks like Elizabeth from Bioshock.  Think about what images play in the heads of poets raised on Left 4 Dead and Assassin’s Creed, same stories, but analogues, reflexes.  Constants and variables.

What I also think is that sometimes I put a writer’s name into google images and cringe a bit, hesitate a moment, in case they will have one of those frightful author’s pictures, black and white and staring back at you with that accusatory gaze into the middle distances.  The kind of look that snatches and clamors for your soul.  I don’t like to look at Emily Dickinson, though I can see her face sometimes even when I close my eyes, especially, then.  Walt Whitman, either, though I am nearly as dis-acquainted with his work as I am with Mrs. Kumin’s.    With google’s process of contextually pre-searching on your behalf, you can have all your poets lined up like some sort of murderer’s row.  If you didn’t know better you’d ask who are these people and what have they done?

W.S. Merwin, Galway Kinnell, Anne Sexton again.

Sometimes when I think what is missing in my life, I draw a blank.  When if I could get quiet, let down my hair,  sip some cold water, it would come back to me.  It would all come back in a petrifying, exultant rush.  Poetry, the noose that chokes, the rope that leads, the thread that binds all things.  If I gave myself a moment, a breath: I would remember, I would find it impossible to forget.


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