After an unforeseen hiatus, Thumbs Down, Thumbs Up returns! We discuss the darkness in the American Political Climate as seen in the reactions to the March for Life incident, And we wax… poetic about the Poetry Foundation’s app. No sponsor ship from the Poetry Foundation or anything, we just really like the app.
Here’s something I wrote, in a short burst:
In each blue moment
Embrace your Freedom.
And in the
Recognize the you
and is free.
Fine. Sure. But what does any of it mean? What was I thinking about when I scribbled it my journal?
Because it sounds interesting. It also sound vague and greeting-cardy, depending on one’s point of view. But it meant something to me at the time.
People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing that they like.
A Man With No Business, Killing Time
When my car is in the shop
They tell me “an hour and
So I have fish tacos and
Salad and a pint that
Lingers around the temples
Tightening the skin in that
Pleasant way it does.
And I wander about the mall
With nothing to buy but
A record if I felt like dropping
Forty dollars on the latest from
Queens of the Stone Age.
But Instead I slip through
The attractions and lures of
Commerce promising me
Ease and joy and self-expression
At a discounted rate
This week only.
I wander back, as slow as I came,
The heat somewhat stronger on my face
Hoping to walk through
Firestone’s doors with the words
“I was just about to call you,”
But instead I wait though
A commercial break for
American Pickers or a show like that
To be told it isn’t done yet
It isn’t started yet
They’re very busy and very behind.
I knew this as I walked in
Because my car hadn’t moved
Or spawned new tires.
And they tell me
“another forty-five Minutes.”
So I cross the crosswalkless
Boulevard in the other direction
Along a tree-lined sidewalk
Counting my steps on the FitBit
Congratulating myself for activity
Navigating the wide sweep of the
Parking lot between the old
H.H. Gregg and Barnes & Noble.
There are no books I intend
To buy, but I might surprise myself,
With Upanishads or Buddhist Scriptures
Or a lesser C.S. Lewis tome
But instead I wrinkle my nose at
The gaudy covers of modern
Poetry books, with their
Instagram verses and their
Banal politics and their
Dull ironies on the urge
I read a few stanzas by Frost and say
In my bookstore whisper
I do not buy it.
I slip away into the attached
Starbucks and order a
Doppio Espresso in a paper cup
And then my thumbs fall
As I drink and muse
And consider waking back.
The actual title of the piece at the Poetry Foundation, “The Warmth of the Messy Page“, is better.
No matter what your approach, engaging in revision will help you see your work more clearly and help you discover more of what you meant and sometimes what you didn’t even know you meant. The word itself says so: re-vision. To see again, to see better. Getting back into work that felt complete may seem daunting—why mess it up again?—but always leads to deepening the poem itself and your own skill in the craft of writing. You will see your work newly each time you come back to it with the willingness to explore further possibilities. It can even be a lot of fun.
Over the course of that rainy muddy monsoon that was the summer of 2018, I wrote some poems, cheap, messy, quick, and therefore true. I consider it an expression of this idea I call Suburban Zen, which I have not fully defined. It’s closer to Zen that way.
It’s a Kindle-exclusive, and it’s 99 cents. You know what to do.
This is my second such collection. The other one, Stir, was longer and composed over a longer period of time.
I am likely to keep doing this. There’s an ease an a gratification in making such small offerings. They keep the juices flowing.
I’m definitely an agnostic on National Novel-Writing Month. I’m not down on it, and if someone wants to take the moment as a inspiration to create, I’m the last guy to wrinkle my nose at such. Write, you guys. Write like the wind.
But I also don’t participate. I’ve got a few reasons for this:
- I Can’t Write a Novel in a Month. Based on past experience, it just doesn’t work for me. I’ve got a job and a house and a family. I consider having finished The Sword as fast as I did an achievement, and I had to abandon that several times, because reasons. Trying to squeeze one out in 30 days just isn’t realistic for me.
- I Don’t Like Being Told When to Create. Call it a mental habit or even a mental block, but trends annoy me. Jumping on a bandwagon because everyone else is doing it makes some part of me not want to. I want to create according to my own time and schedule. I want to set my own goals, and then meet them. Again, if you find NaNoWriMo useful, good for you. I personally don’t.
That being said, I have some plans for this November. First of all, I’m planning on rolling out some new covers on my back catalog, including giving Solar System Blues a hardcover edition. Second, I have some new poems I want to offer up in a ebook-exclusive collection, as it’s likely to be shorter than Stir. All of them were written this past year. Planned title: The Short Cool Summer.
Watch this space.