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Shyly Peering Down into the Writer’s Abyss

November 16, 2012

Two years ago, this week, I wrote my first blog post. It snowed that night. I remember well, wondering if the many treacheries that lay outside matched that of the act I was about to commit by posting the first piece, not so safe, alone, inside my warm home.

I have not written poetry for a long time. I could give a lot of explanations, excuses or tell you that I have decided that I a not a poet, in spite of what people have told me. Maybe it was the election and much of what has occupied my thoughts, feelings and experiences does not translate well into verse. I mentioned this to my friend Julia, who said that she, a poet with a greater reputation (that includes being the most published writer in the seven-year history of the Saint Paul Almanac) had not written much either.

She soon wrote a poem and sent it to me. I still have come up with nothing.

I don’t know what to do about that. I am supposed to create something, produce something. At the same time, inspiration and motivation seem pretty important. Are they not?

Living in a lull that seems similar to the one that comes with the end of baseball season. This year’s World Series went only four games. It was a letdown. Daylight savings ended not long after, and we are, without baseball and longer days, in the dark days, waiting for the spring of hope when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Florida and Arizona.

And maybe my poetry will be revived, with the same beauty contained in one of Willie Mays’ over-the-shoulder catches, the flare of Roberto Clemente’s wild dashes around the bases and nabs of fading line drives to right field and the effortless, majestic swing of Harmon Killebrew. Maybe the next poem will be as hard to figure out as all the curve balls my eye sight was not good enough to see during my baseball playing days, but will be glad to bask incomplete in the spring sun and on the green blades that will stain my pants as I pretend a simpler version of that glory.

Or maybe I will take life too seriously to eek out a poem. Or not seriously enough.

It has been a season of politics and politics is an earnest row to plow, even if too much of it is less elegant and more unkind than any genuine emotion that colors any roll of poetry off the pen.

Or maybe it is that I do not want to hide any any secrets, nor give any up, or ignore the truths behind them. I am thinking of others’ secrets. I am thinking of mine. I am thinking that they might not be secrets—that they need not be hidden or maybe too many already know them, either implicitly or in full fact.

I have suggested to my son, maybe too many times, that he write something before the upcoming deadline for the Saint Paul Almanac. He says that he does not want to write anything. He is a good poet. He is also recently a teenager. There are things that people just don’t need to know about. There are things he just does not have to tell—if he can help it. Maybe I am the same way, today.

Maybe tired of the intimacies. Maybe experiences or maybe just the vulnerability of letting them show to the world. Seeing my funny bone sticking out, some might find it funny to give it a wrap. Or maybe too many have given it that wrap recently and that I am letting it heal.

So, as I sent the boy out to the bus a few days ago, the snow fell, the first sticking snow of the season, the annual snow that leaves us forgetting how to drive in this weather, the one that jars us from our insane hope that the welcomed round of unseasonably warm days will be visited again any time soon; the sign that tells me the baseball gloves I have sitting in my living room are not going to get used and may as well be put somewhere mercifully out of sight.

My son and I went to hear Sherman Alexie, my (and maybe his) favorite poet last night. It was a great reading. Was it inspiring? On one hand, yes, but then I think, “Man, Sherman already said it.” Besides taking all the good ideas, he is also much funnier than I.

Last night, I heard Nikki Finney say something that she got from one of her mentors. She said, pretty words are not enough. It is not enough to write down wonderful words. You have to make the pretty words do something. Maybe it is that I am not sure what I want the words to do, who I want them to touch, and who I am protecting, besides myself, in the relative silence.

What should I write? Love? Is there anything else? Politics? No. Anger? Always. Illusive and found joys? Too intimate, all of it. Too infinite, this writer’s abyss.

It has been two years since I began this journey, this blog on a snowy evening, not so safely tucked inside my warm abode; not so safely tucked inside my thoughts, emotions and taunting my aloneness by getting ready to tell the world a little bit more than I had been taught to share. We got another show this year, almost two years to the day. Treacheries. Cars into cars, into ditches, guard rails, walls. Maybe this year, I am just treading more carefully, and inching along the pathway of words, not wanting to slip into a wall of literary irrelevance. I will write soon.

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