March 22, 2017
Shouldn’t art be the residue of life and not the main thing?
This novel thought struck me while I was brushing my remaining teeth. I held on to it and as soon as I got out of the shower I wrote it down.
Unless writing is the means by which one earns one’s livelihood, isn’t it more important to live? If one enjoys writing, then write, but if one has to bribe oneself to do it, if it isn’t financially rewarding – or rewarding on any level beyond this dubious notion of actualizing oneself – and if nobody is reading it, then why bother? Why sacrifice potentially enriching experience in order to engage in an act that nobody else, oneself included, benefits from? Surely art shouldn’t be prioritized over life? And even if one is compelled to do it professionally or out of some misguided sense of purpose, even then isn’t it more important to experience life than to examine and transcribe it?
Maybe there are a few cases of supremely gifted individuals whose works are sufficiently edifying and entertaining that the prioritization of art over life – or the more exalted status of art as life – is justifiable.
It is doubtful, however, for the vast majority of people that call themselves or think of themselves as artists, that on their deathbeds they will look back and value their creative or professional achievements over love and the living of life.
But perhaps what one values most on one’s deathbed isn’t the most reliable index of worth.
Anyway, I’m not on my deathbed, I’m just sitting at this desk.
March 26, 2015
An acute sensation of falling
for and into a black hole:
a soft focus abyss, otherwise known as bliss.
Or a train wreck, carrying hazardous waste,
something I can look forward to
looking back on with distaste.
Constantly fighting funny familiar feelings of futility,
trying to put the brakes on the morbidity,
but it keeps rolling down the line.
And as I watch it disappear,
life as I have long known it,
becomes all the more precious
and acutely defined.
March 12, 2015
Outside, a sparrow sits on the telegraph wire,
a stray dog limps across the sidewalk.
And that is the extent of nature in these parts.
Silence drills through me, birdsong flickers in the air,
overlaid by the constant drone of traffic and tinnitus.
Urgency fades into futility, and once again I find myself
on the verge of giving up before I have even begun.
If I could see myself sitting here –
a lazy perfectionist sinking into the unseizable day –
barely engaged in the pretense of activity,
I don’t know whether I’d laugh or cry…
or remain numb.
March 6, 2015
Shakespeare, Proust, Kafka, Camus, Orwell, Gissing: What do each of these distinguished authors have in common? They all produced a lot of great work, but surely their most important unifying quality is that they were all younger than me when they died. I have outlived Keats by a quarter of a century: that’s a morbidly sobering thought. But let’s leave poets out of this. In the time it took Balzac to write 91 novels, covering every aspect of the human condition in its myriad complexity, I have produced two very slender volumes of poetry, addressing a rather more limited sphere of activity… or rather inactivity.
October 25, 2013
It takes a lot of work
to create the fleeting impression
that everything is all right.
No sooner have I told myself
that I can’t complain
than I plumb a deeper vein
The occasional hard-won flicker of hope
is hardly worth the effort.
September 28, 2013
A destructive overawareness of time
knives through the hot empty spaces
of an afternoon. A sense of urgency vaporizing
into torpor. Even the traffic sounds tired.
Do something, I tell myself.
What? The same thing I’ve been doing
every day for years on end
with varying degrees of failure.
August 11, 2013
Often, around the middle of a week day afternoon,
I find myself considering the connection
between sexual and creative energy.
Torn by futile lusts, I seek refuge
from the vagueness of the day
and the promise of endeavor
in reliable memories and fantasies
that spill, reliably, into sleep.
June 15, 2013
For years I have tarried, secure
in the notion that all this luxuriating
in vicarious decay served some sort of purpose. Until
it became apparent that this extended arid preamble
had turned terminal, squashing any prospect
of fecundity. Fading without ever having flourished:
a dream unwinding, grinding
to a standstill.
May 29, 2013
In the latest issue of Gesture magazine:
How dark and wide and wet it was:
pungent in the morning, with steam rising from it.
I held my nose over it, breathed in deeply
A hole, deeper than my love,
awaited you. A shallow hole,
May 25, 2013
I have spent my entire life
preparing to do something
that I am never going to do.
I thought that accumulating
all this learning and experience
might result in something: a body of work…
or a body. While neglecting to take into account
that I might actually have to do something to achieve that end.