short sale

don’t put it on the market
yet
just tell the neighbors,
you are
waiting
for the next
bubble
…you don’t really need it…
do you?
you can still walk, can’t you?
you can still pretend
…when you have to
can’t you?
So
don’t spend all day
at the casino
you don’t need the grief
forget
the dollar slots
they are
not the
answer
JUST
plant your
beach chair in the sand
and wait for
sunrise.

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east of Coos Bay

the last time
I talked about David
was 5 or 6 days
after the service

Leo and I
talked about
the last fly rod
the guy ever
owned
and how his third
wife left town
six months before
it happened

… and we discussed
the disappearance of
his truck
from a non-descript
stripmall
in North Las Vegas
and the eventual
disintegration of
his new outlook on life.

then

…we talked about

the end

and after that I

never

talked about David.

 

So…
… about 10 years later
i heard
they’d
scattered his ashes

by the lake

where he used to fish
…a long way
from Long Beach, California
…so far you’d have
to take
six buses to get there
and now
they say

he’s somewhere east of Coos Bay

 

“forty five”
is too young
to have done
this sort of shit
to himself
says my cousin

Margie…
…she didn’t even know
that he had a gun…

…he was too
young to have
died fishing
but he did…

…and he
didn’t tell
anyone
he was going
(fishing)
did he?

almost

after dark
he knows
his way along the animal trail
that crosses my back yard
better than
my neighbor, McDougal
knows the way home
after midnight from
the Black Thorn

both of them push along
with long noses
pressed to the dirt
but the marsupial
…the aged opossum

…this one…

…the one I wait for…

has escaped
for a year.
Now I hear him
rustling in the fence row
darting past
the 4 volt landscape lites
hiding for a moment
behind the hibiscus
sensing, maybe
the shit to come
but he makes
his move

…he darts up into the
bougainvillea
then in careful
avoidance of thorns
he appears on the far side
of the property
atop the fence and

HE’S
closing in fast

…I am careful, though
I’m sitting on an overturned bucket
wearing a bathrobe
and
flip-flops made
in Okinowa

AND I have
my sister Muriel’s
22 single shot
sighted carefully
as I,
in silence wait
for him

…and then he’s upon me
six, or seven feet away

Keep the dogs in, I yell to Leah
he hears me and
then he freezes, teeth clacking
eyes flashing

I squeeze off a shot
it misses by 2 or 3 feet

later, Leah asks
if I got him
and I say
almost.

I discuss my poetry book and give away a few copies

The other evening at a writers’ meeting, one of our members, who is also a reader here at EEOTPB, asked if I had any new writing projects in the works – apart from the sporadic poems that I post. I told her that in recent months, my day job as a technical writer had left me creatively drained, and that the last half of 2014 had been especially demanding. For that reason, I hadn’t been able to spend as much time on some of my personal writing projects as I’d liked. Several projects that I should have completed by now have languished — sunk into the proverbial electronic dustbin, now  nearly beyond retrieval. Even blog posts that I wanted to write – intended to write – have grown stale under the heavy foot of “The Man” who puts food on my table, gas in my tank, and keeps my golden retriever Bailey supplied with expensive ‘all-natural’ dog food. I mean, even blogs I want to read I haven’t gotten around to reading.

Then my friend told me that although she had enjoyed reading some of the poems on EEOTPB, she was a bit confused by my blog’s title, as there appears to be nothing about Ed, nothing about the end of the planet, and nothing at all about books.

I replied by saying that there is a great deal about Ed on this site if you read the poems carefully, and although there has been very little about the end of the planet (since that Mayan calendar scare that was freaking us out back in 2011 turned out to be pure rubbish), there is a bit about books…here and there…

It was at that point that I mentioned that I had collected about forty or so of the poems (many of which have appeared here), into a small volume of poetry, put a cover on it, and made it available to the reading public for a nominal fee. The name of the book is “outrunning the storm” and I shall provide a link here. But hold on! You needn’t rush to buy a copy. I’m going to give it away…right here…well, at least I am giving five copies to the first five people who email me at wepatt@hotmail.com. No postage necessary. I’ll foot that bill. Just put “ED – SEND ME THE BOOK” in the subject line, include a mailing address in the body, and I will send you a copy. And don’t worry, on down the line I won’t spam you with any ads or gimmicks, or give your email address to some shady internet marketing scammer who wants to sell you a time-share in Belize. In fact, you won’t ever  hear from me again!  And don’t think I’m going to ask you to write some flowery, fancy-pants book review either (unless you want to). I don’t work that way.storm.cover

So back to my friend who congratulated me on the book, but then politely shook her head and told me that it was unlikely that I would sell any copies.

“Poetry does not sell,” she said flatly.

I nodded, recalling how few six figure positions for “Poet” I’ve seen listed on internet employment websites.

After that I left and went home and did a search for the 10 top selling poetry books this week. Without giving you a glimpse into my next blog, I will leave you with this teaser.

The top 2 are:

“I know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

AND

“The Odyssey” by Homer

…and they say poetry isn’t selling.

–ED

Blasting it out

“There’s no rule on how it is to write. Some days it comes easily and perfectly. Sometimes it is like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” — Ernest Hemingway; 1953

As both of my readers here know, I have written a bit lately about the creative process, or lack thereof. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned in a blog post that the poet Julia Vinograd compared writing, when things were going badly, to falling, as when things were going well it was much like flying. Shortly after that post, I came across the above quote from Old Hem’ himself, a man who no doubt had some good days writing as well as some bad ones. I’d copied these words into my notebook, under ‘inspirational quotes’, and forgotten about them. Not one to wimp out on a tough writing project, Hemingway didn’t take a day off to recoup at the day spa, meditate or to prune his bonsai tree. Nope, when the writing got rough, the Old Man got tough, by blasting through at all costs.

In any case, this quote resonates with me today. Earlier, as I was trying to find the perfect blog post to fill my weekly void I was drawing a blank. Maybe it’s the summer heat here in South Florida, or maybe I’ve inhaled too much of the smoke from the fires that are blazing in the Everglades a few miles distant, or maybe I’m distracted by the latest headline grabbing, senseless shooting, I don’t know, but today I decided to drill the holes and blast my way through.

That said, I am wondering if any of my fellow bloggers find that their motivation and creativity tends to ebb and flow with any kind of regularity. Could it be related to the cycles of the moon, the changing of the seasons, exposure to sunlight, or maybe it is related to some unexplained cosmic force? A writer friend told me that that he worked at his creative best for only about one week per month. The remaining three weeks of the month he felt that he was not working at his creative best, although his work output remained fairly constant. The longer I write, the more it seems there is some sort of regular pattern to creativity, although I cannot isolate it to one week per month.

If either of you have any thoughts on this, feel free to comment here.

Now, back to work for me…I have some holes to drill and charges to plant.

Short list

The HR Lady

(that’s Human Resources Representative)

From the midtown agency,

Studies my resume,

Like it’s a Chinese restaurant menu,

Her lips move as she reads,

She takes off her tortoiseshell reading glasses,

And she looks at me,

Like she can’t decide,

On the Egg Drop, or the Wonton soup,

Finally, she asks me why I feel,

That I’m qualified for a lofty position,

On a lofty floor of a lofty,

New York City institution,

So, I say that I have 27 and three quarter years,

Of experience in such work,

Tho’ some of it is not directly applicable,

To the task at hand,

But I say that I enjoy a challenge,

And I’ll reach out – to whomever,

And I like to keep my finger,

On the pulse of the marketplace,

Strategizing to drive proper synergy,

To various business groups,

And whoever else,

Wants to tag along,

And I like to bring new ideas to the table.

I’m sweating, feeling faint,

My left eye socket pounds,

Sweat drips into my newly laundered,

Argyle socks.

I smile, and then she asks:

“Can you explain your last period of unemployment?”

Oh such a question they often ask,

But I dodge it saying that I was busy in the Poconos,

For nineteen months,

Busy?

Yes, busy proofing Leah’s first novel,

Painting an old house in Marshall’s Creek,

Planting asparagus, and setting out a strawberry bed,

Writing poetry at one AM,

Drinking wine while the sun rises,

Over the mountains by the Delaware,

And racing Leah through the orchard,

Naked, in the first summer rain,

You know, busy.

So I left — not knowing whether or not,

I’d gotten the job,

But I figured at least,

I’d made the short list.

Difference of opinion

It’s spring, but the Prairie won’t hear of it,

Snow clings to the fence rows,

Where dead grass holds it in place,

Waiting for the warmth of someday,

To take it away,

Water is frozen hard in the potholes,

Of the narrow gravel road,

That runs through the pasture,

Up to the dead end,

A cold wind whistles through the phone lines,

The ones that run along the south side of the cemetery,

Where the Union Army vets,

(and two from the competition),

Lie buried side by side,

Flesh and bones long eroded,

And washed away into the Gulf of Mexico,

And beyond,

We are here to bury Uncle Leo,

A fine old soldier; but one given to disorder,

In matters of the heart,

Gary from the VFW says to me,

That Leo was a good old soul who,

Held his liquor well and didn’t swear,

And his first wife said he’d been a kind family man,

On the holidays – especially,

And Candice, a waitress at the Larkspur Inn,

Shivers in a black dress as she stares at the casket,

And tries to cry but she can’t,

But she holds a ten dollar locket in her hand,

And she tells me he always came around on Thursdays,

For Bacardi and coke, and left a five dollar tip – always!

And she didn’t care how many of his ex’s,

Showed up to bury him, because he was a better man,

Than any of them deserved,

Not that he ever spoke of them to her, then:

She starts to cry…

Silence descends and,

We turn our attention to:

The Unitarian pastor who holds her hair in one hand,

(a hard wind blows straight out of Saskatchewan),

She holds a prayer book in the other hand,

So we listen – carefully – as she does her best,

To give polite justice to a man she’s never met,

(not much of a church goer, Uncle Leo).

When it’s over, we walk carefully around,

Graves of dead soldiers, so as not to disturb them,

But before we reach the cars,

Wife three touches me on the arm,

She asks why I’ve come, and I tell her,

How he explained ‘Kentucky windage’ to me when I was ten,

And he taught me how to shoot,

Into a cross wind — he told me he could see a bullet,

As soon as it left the barrel – and follow it with his eye,

Then I say that he was a soldier, who fought,

For family and country, and I wanted to be like him,

When I was ten,

She shakes her head – ,

He was a lying old buzzard she says,

As she walks away

One more book by Norman Mailer

I should read one more book,

By Norman Mailer – I think,

As I sit in my office perch on floor 19,

In my New York City cubicle,

Doing New York City things,

And I watch the cursor blink,

On a blank computer screen,

At eleven thirty PM –  I say to myself,

What would Norman do?

The fucker would write…

Finally, hands of the desk clock point up,

To twelve midnight, and there is  hell to pay,

I say it out loud – to the thieving bastards.

Not a sound on the floor.

So I think of riding to work on a fall day,

Years before, in my apple picking years,

On an old International bus,

Fifty miles north of Kalamazoo,

To the old Henderson Orchard,

A girl named Kelly is on my bus,

She’s a fellow apple picker from Duluth,

But she hasn’t a talent for apples,

But she wears bib-overalls on her first day.

She tells me that she cut her hair short,

The day that they sent her to Reform School,

And now, she prefers it that way.

At noon I sit in the shade of the bus,

I am reading a book and eating the peach I brought for lunch,

And she comes by and sits down – asks what’s it about,

She points at my book.

A murder I say.

Oh yeah, she says — did they catch the guy?

I tell her the man was executed, shot.

She laughs at me,

Should have been my old man, she says.

A flag for my lapel

I’m going to get a flag pin,

To wear on the lapel,

Of my fourteen hundred sixty four dollar,

Brooks Brothers suit.

The suit I am going to buy from,

The shop up on Madison Avenue,

The day I get a job,

And leave the house promptly at 8 am,

Every day.

…and then…

I’ll park my ass at Starbucks,

For forty minutes or so,

Just so I can check out the shit that’s,

Buzzing into my cellular telephone,

And my electronic tablet,

And all of the other electronic devices,

The ones that I am going to need,

Once I arrive at my job…no – my position,

Where I do lots of high speed things,

Requiring electronic endurance, and motivation.

…but…

My wife comes into the room,

It’s about a half an hour before sun up,

And she says to me, quietly,

“you silly old hippie, Jack,

You haven’t been out of bed in a week,

And you sure as hell aren’t buying,

Any Brooks Brothers suits with,

That tiny little check that you get,

From the United States Government.”

So you might as well get up,

Come drink tea with me before I go to work,

And then sit at your desk with the cat,

And try to write something…anything,

That’s what you’re good at…writing something,

How about a poem?

And I tell her that I haven’t written a poem,

Or at least a poem that I can remember being good,

Or a poem that was even halfway decent in say

— ten years,

Not since before my first deployment.

Dog years

I have an old dog named Chamberlain,

We work together on nights Allie is away,

He’s blind in his left eye and he walks sideways,

Toward me as I sit hunched over the old Olivetti,

That I use to type poems on,

It’s in the corner of the sun porch that Allie,

Closed in last summer to keep out the snow.

He leans against me for support,

Old yellow head on my flannel pajamas,

Tongue hanging out. I feel his breath through the plaid,

He’s old and dying, but we both ignore it,

Dying is a rite of passage, like being born in a litter,

Or being born an orphan, or even like finding,

Yourself trapped, in  years of late,

In an old farmhouse – up in the Poconos.

Rites of passage, they kill us in the end.

Allie comes home from work at twelve thirty and finds us,

Me, the Olivetti, Chamberlain, and an unfinished poem.

Allie makes a fried egg sandwich for us,

And we eat it on the porch.

Chamberlain licks my paper plate clean when we’re done,

After that we all watch tv until dawn,

The unfinished poem waits for another day.

Before we go to bed, Allie cups her hands over his ears,

She draws his face close to hers, and says,

“He’s 98 in dog years, if he makes it three more weeks”.

——————————

Ed’s Note: I have not written much poetry in recent years, but I used to write quite a bit of it. I am in the process of sifting through a lot of the old stuff, seeing what I want to keep and what I don’t. My collection, titled “Wearing Earth Tones in a Savage Land” is in the works and will appear here for a nominal price (like free) in a few weeks.

Mahalo,

Ed