There is a moment
past and future
thens and to
There is a moment
past and future
thens and to
weaving dead grass into the green
graying on a man’s
The first air tinged chilly
slides off tree trunks
the year ages
hinting at the winter
youthful spring faded
in the hospital
a baby is born
her father rocks her gently
out the window
at fall’s approach
his mustache twitches
“I will call you
During my sunny morning stroll to the dining hall this morning, issuing Joey Bada$$’s upbeat and stylish album 1999 from my phone, I asked myself the question, “Why do I write so much about despair and darkness and so little about joy and light?” The immediate answer which popped into my head was that writing about despair was easy. I’m all too familiar with dark emotions and I know that my writing reflects that part of me. Still, shouldn’t I as a writer try to capture emotional experience fully in my work? Few characters, especially if they’re meant to be realistic, can pull off having only depressing and angry emotions. A character needs depth. Even one in a miserable situation should vary emotionally.
These thoughts of darkness were all very good, but the question remained, “Why is it so hard to put joy into my writing?” After some consideration I’ve come to a few possible answers. Perhaps there is a certain vulnerability that comes with expressing oneself joyfully. The academic or writer in a stereotypical sense is not that of a happy and joyous man, but of a serious and brooding philosopher. I, by this view, may have started to associate joy with a naivety. My dabbling in the dark may be a ploy to please the masses and earn acceptance for my craft.
Or perhaps the reason is that I do not question joy as I question despair. When I am sad or angry, I ask “Why am I sad? Why am I angry?” I comb through emotion and thought to reach at some hidden truth. When I am happy or blissful however, I am more likely simply to accept that emotion, to ride it with action and forgo thought and scrutiny. Thus my understanding of joy may be less complete than my understanding of despair.
Maybe my despair in writing is simply a reflection of the human condition. Perhaps humanity’s main focus in life is to overcome struggle, and so struggle takes the centerpiece in my human expression. Joy could simply be the minority in reality. Perhaps the dark writing is merely more accurate in its realism.
Although the sadness in my writing could simply reflect my artistic preference. Maybe I am personally moved by darkness in a way I am not by joy. Is it even important for my writing to reflect something realistic? If it is beautiful with melancholy alone, what need do I have for joy in my writing? But that is a poor excuse. Why should I forfeit express one beauty alone. Writing many different beauties (and wretchednesses) creates story with depth.
These thoughts now buzz around in head as I write this at 1 AM, perched at my dorm room desk, and continuing in this line of questioning greatly appeals to me. Still, I need sleep, and sleep will surely bring me more questions. I will come back to this another time and more fully develop my thoughts into an essay. For now, enjoy some mind food my lovely readers. Good night!
An old poem from the boarding school days, it gave me a laugh when I stumbled across it hidden in an old laptop.
As the softest sunlight spilled
across the fusty speckled carpet
not unlike the fragile calm
which oft predates the storm
weary eyes of mine uncracked
to let in rotten ‘lumination
ears attached to blast and blaring
clock that tore me from the darkness
Thoughts profound to life then galloped:
“Shit… Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.”
Itchy prickly cactus crotch an itch
produced from burning razor
stabs into the tender sack of balls
that rides within
consequent I noticed sharply
pain beneath my shoulder blade
like magma drilled between my bones
and joints to burn the flesh
on my stomach bumps arisen
fiery rash alit with reddened
skin with sudden irritation
burst to my awares
drowsy stumble to the bathroom
prop myself against the walling
messy piss with pointed laze
“Dammit… on my fucking foot!”
Briefly showered, hardly toweled
twisted into shirt and tangled
tie that doesn’t fall correctly
pants with pocket ripped
socks unmatched in shoes with holey
soles and laces loosely wedded
underwear that further triggers
weighty pack of weary back
held by fraying shoulder straps
renders walking slow and dumb
time to go to school
The sharp odor of the sea’s wind stirred the wispy, white hair atop the fisherman’s wrinkled brow. His lackluster eyes followed the sun as it set, his spirit accompanying the light in its descent. The dinghy swayed with the waves. Every lick from the brine further eroded the boat’s faded paint and produced a creak at the stern. With a grunt, thick arms flung the baited lure. As it hit the surface, the old man’s thoughts arrived on the month’s rent, and dread welled in his throat. He longed for supper. On shore, he knew, the bartender filled glasses and the other fisherman shared stories about the day’s catch. Still, his bucket sat empty beside him.
When the sun dipped beyond the horizon, the bait remained untouched. The bobber taunted the fisherman, dancing upon the water but never fully submerging. He rose to his feet and stretched his arms above him. A heavy sigh left his lips. The waves called to him then, and he imagined submitting to them. He pictured himself jumping from the bow and sinking to the sea floor. Only the knowledge of his graying wife glued his boots to the deck. A gull cried out overhead. He wanted to fly with the bird away from his tattered vessel and fruitless rod.
The fisherman’s calloused fingers fumbled at opening the tackle box. He crammed spare hooks, sinkers, and line into their respective compartments. Thunk, the rod bent forward. The reel spun viciously, exhausting the length of the line. Only a swift grab saved the rod from careening over the boat’s edge. The old man ran his tongue over his lips. His hand trembled as he groped a handle on the reel. His eyes closed in silent prayer. Slowly, steadily he drew the line back towards the boat.
This story was a collaborative project with @keillormose (http://keillormose.wordpress.com) and @aaronkrapf (http://krapfaaron.wordpress.com). Keillor began by writing the story in three sentences. Aaron then expanded those three sentences into nine. Lastly i expanded Aaron’s nine sentences into twenty seven. I hope you enjoyed our work, and if you did check out Keillor and Aaron’s blogs!
My room, is clean
my room needs
Perhaps, I’m not
This brief “story” is the child of an assignment given to me during my current fiction workshop at Bard College. It was certainly a challenge to restrain myself to such a short passage. The product turned out stranger than expected and heavily influenced by Donald Barthelme’s The School. Enjoy!
The soft, coffee-brown eyes of Mr. Shanee poured affection onto his newborn daughter, Jebel. “I love you so,” he crooned, stroking her scalp. Jebel blinked up at him, “Remember father, as the futility of your existence hovers between not knowing and immanent mortality, reason denies value.”
If any of my lovely followers and readers would like to create and post their own three sentence stories, I would thoroughly appreciate the fun of reading them! (Just comment telling me to check out your blog and story)