Self and reality. Symbol and language. Myth and image. Memory and consciousness.
Dream and unreality: locus communis.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mild Transformation

I was not stung by a wasp this morning. The day moves as still water. Yet, my sinuses clog under my eyes, over my nose, causing sessions of hacking, coughing, sneezing—
This afternoon we sat outside trimming back my scalp. A relief exists feeling the fine hairs fall onto my shoulders, my lap. The afternoon promised heavy rain—even though we remained under the covered patio, the lingering effects of a late spring cold front were felt. So we rushed the process; Ricky’s hands stumbled with the electric cord, rushing to complete the trimming before the inevitable rainfall. Brendan danced in circles beside us, laughing at the weather, grinning at his father’s mild transformation.
One last editing session. The final, absolute proof. Unexpectedly, the publisher, Ron Starbuck, and I caught a small graphic issue in the table of contents.
Individual poem titles were intended to be indented after the section titles—instead, everything is flushed to the extreme left margin of the page. As a result, now there is a slight delay in production, only a day or two, but a delay nonetheless. But then, now we have a certainty. No more hesitations to contend with—the manuscript is soon to be a book. A collection of itself.
Over the weekend I will be in New York City for the Rainbow Book Fair, presenting five minutes of reading from Variations. For the last week or so I have juggled a list of poems to recite—considered the short prefaces before each work.

For some odd reason, setting up a reading always puts me in a bitter mood. It falls down to not knowing which poems suits the proper mood— the fall of emotions. Self promotion is not one of my greatest talents.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Lying in the Afternoon Halfdark

Now, a moment almost without words: I hold the mockup of my first book of poetry dressed in Garamond typeface. The poems exist as a burning collage of memories, segments of self quilted into presence. Geography lies in these pages as well: New Orleans, Louisiana; Saint Louis, Missouri; Cypress, Texas— a myriad collection of voices and circumstances from the past.

the same moment as      when I held Brendan for the first time—the      sweet, light heft of weight in both hands,    my wriggling fish of a child.
Ironically, I only now notice the sections unintentionally are divided into an awkward mixed chronology: section one details the current decade, section two falls back to the middle Nineties, and the closing section presents a rushed account of observations from the Twenty-Naughts to the Twenty-Tens.

In hindsight, double irony, this manuscript was the book I thought which would never be published. The middle poems generate a sonnet sequence, snapping the traditional formula into abstractions and fragments of thought, sometimes producing a wounded, embittered persona—some of which exhibit an overtly sexual, blunt interpretation of desire between men. So easy to deconstruct an already malleable form, a form which over the centuries reshapes itself to suit new generations of writers.

—and this is the point where a strong loss for words emerges into the scene. It is difficult pinning down the exact germination of intent for this manuscript. Or what memory acts as catalyst for the book’s controlling metaphor—usually at these times I focus on the instant I first felt the desire for words, when at four years old, living with my family in Nederland, Texas. Lying in the afternoon halfdark, scrawling crayon letters into an Indian Chief notebook. Wanting my own particular voice to be recorded on the coarse paper.

My young son may never understand my self-inflicted frustration for wanting to build the perfect phrase, the elaborate rhythm within a series of lines. I watch his actions carefully, expecting him to mirror my intentions and desires as he practices recognizing a word on a piece of cardboard. As of now, he seems more content to build structures, towers, or run with invisible wings in the back yard. He is a wildly active child, with a weaker sense of hesitation than I remember owning. I recall always pausing in doorways. Seeking permission from authority figures. More often, he runs across hallways without looking back or pausing for clarification.

In the end, this moment almost echoes the same moment as when I held Brendan for the first time—the sweet, light heft of weight in both hands, my wriggling fish of a child. In this case, I hold the recording of my trembling voice on fluttering pages: a long-awaited presence.