My guitar

I bought a guitar

for six bucks

from Santiago

my neighbor from Columbia

who was selling everything

in his overstocked garage

so he could buy a used Hyundai

for his daughter

for her seventeenth birthday

“You need a lawnmower, Sport?”

he yells to me

as I walk my dog past his house

at half past nine on Saturday morning

“such a beautiful machine,”

I shake my head

in terror at the thought

of mowing the goddamned grass

he goes on:

“You need hedge clippers?…three bucks!!

CHEAP…amigo”

fuck the hedge I say to myself

so

I let the dog pee in the bush beside

his house…

then it comes:

“hey…you want paint?”

but I tell him

I hate painting

and I’ve come to like

the lime green paint

that’s peeling off of my house

in strips…

(it’s good for five more years

maybe more)

then he tells me he has:

a Portuguese Bible,

a convection oven,

a five ton floor jack,

a ten ton box

of romance novels,

and a Henry Hill, autographed

ice pick

plus

snow tires for my Subaru

and

the third season of Dallas

on VHS…

then he tells me about

the guitar?

 

so I bought it — for six bucks and I took it home

…the guitar

and for two and a half hours

I sat on the back porch with the dog

and put my bare feet on the railing

and pretended I was Ernest Tubb

singing

Walking the Floor Over You

plucking at the strings with my good hand

until my wife came home

and reminded me

that I don’t

know how to play

the guitar.

 

Advertisements

Honoring World Book and Copyright Day

Don’t you hate it when an important day sneaks up on you? Like those birthdays, anniversaries and holidays that you almost forget about until they are nearly on top of you? Well, today an important date almost streaked right past me. I must say that I would have been quite embarrassed if I’d let today, April 23rd, pass without informing both of my EEOTPB readers that today is, in fact, “World Book and Copyright Day”. Wow, how could I have missed that one on my calendar? Ok, it’s hardly up there with Christmas, Easter, and my wife’s birthday, but it is important nonetheless.

World Book and Copyright Day (how about WBACD from hereon), is now in its fourteenth year and comes to us courtesy of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization). The goal of WBACD is, in the words of UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova:

“Our goal is clear – to encourage authors and artists and to ensure that more women and men benefit from literacy and accessible formats, because books are our most powerful forces of poverty eradication and peace building. ”

Interestingly, the April 23rd date was selected because of the great number of literary icons who were either born on this date, or died on this date. In what can only be described as an astounding coincidence, this date in the year 1616 saw the death of William Shakespeare (April 23rd also being the dayof the great Bard’s birth as well); the great Incan chronicler and writer, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega; and the renowned Spanish author, Miguel de Cervantes (although his date of death is officially listed as being on April 22nd).

In more recent times, April 23rd is the date of either the birth, or of death, of a number of other famous writers, notably French novelist Maurice Druon, who was born on this day in 1918; Icelandic author, and 1955 Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Halldor Laxness, who was born on April 23rd back in 1902. The great Russian novelist Vladmir Nabakov narrowly missed the April 23rd distinction by being born a day earlier on April 22nd, while Spanish journalist and author, Josep Pla died on this date back in 1981.

Each year UNESCO, in conjunction with the International Publishers Association and the International Federation Of Libraries and Institutions, selects a World Book Capital, which for 2014 is the Nigerian delta city, of Port Harcourt, capital of River State, Nigeria.

So there you have it. Head on over to Port Harcourt if you wish, or just crack one open right where you are and drink a toast to “World Book and Copyright Day”.

Now, back to work on the poetry book…

In which I discuss the demise of books and then shamelessly promote my own

I have written about this in previous posts, but a recent Washington Post blog by Matt McFarland set me off again, so here I go. In a post titled “Books are losing the war for our attention. Here’s how they could fight back”, Mr. McFarland notes that while it is true that we are all reading more and more, we are not reading books, or at least not conventional books, and he includes e-books in this assessment. Interestingly, e-book sales have declined by 3% during the sales period measured between August 2012 and August 2013. McFarland also cites the fact that the number of people who do NOT read books has tripled since 1978. All of which leaves me to wonder, if so few people are reading books, why then are so many people writing them. With upwards of 10,000 e-books hitting the electronic shelves each day…yes, I said each day…one is left to wonder when the number of authors writing books will surpass the number of readers available to read them. Apparently, we are all spending far, far too much time on social media, reading Facebook posts, participating in Linkedin discussion threads, wading through email and monitoring Twitter feeds to crack an e-book, let alone a conventional book with real pages. In the words of, Russ Grandinetti, vice president of Amazon Kindle content, “Most people walk around with some kind of device or have access to some kind of device that allows them to choose how to use their time.” [my emphasis].

So there you have it…we are choosing do other things rather than to read books. So don’t go blaming the death of books on all that social media stuff – we aren’t reading books because we don’t WANT to…so there.

There are numerous solutions to our book reading problem (or lack thereof) being suggested. One suggested answer to the problem is to simply increase the number of words that we can absorb into our overloaded brains per minute. This is done by eliminating traditional left-to-right scanning of a page or display.

New software being developed by a Boston company, Spritz Inc. hopes to reinvent reading by “compact text streaming”. Freed from the burden of having to turn paper pages, or to swipe displays from page to page, we will be able to focus on a stream of information without moving our eyes, thus allowing us to plow through once formidable tomes in record time.

An example cited in Mr. McFarland’s blog post suggests that a properly focused reader using such a device might be able to read “The Catcher in the Rye” in a bit over three hours.

I wish them well with this. I am so behind on my reading.

*

Perhaps those of you who visit here often think it odd that I have nearly let the first third of the month of April go by without mentioning that April is National Poetry Month. Well, the fact is, I have been busy with my own poetry project lately. My collection of poems, “Traveling Light (and taking the back roads out of town)” is well under way and should be available in electronic format, and hopefully print format before the end of the month. Look for it advertised right here on EEOTPB — I mean really, where else. Download it to your Spritz app and you should be able to rip through it in about 48 seconds.