Bring It On Home

It’s spring. Life is stirring again. But first, there must be mud, at least in Maine. And then there are the pigheaded strips of snow that refuse to trot off.

Darwin and his Beagle, it’s lonely being a writer. Not the physical solitude (I’m equipped for that), but the loneliness of never knowing. I probably shouldn’t have read Adam Phillips’ Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life. Instead of inspiring me to greater heights of sufferance, I can’t nudge free the idea that I’m missing out on something.

And what do I feel like I’m missing out on? A gang of one’s own (instead of a room); John Ashbery talking to himself; a lovely coterie of friends; more involvement in the literary world (although I don’t even know what shape that should take); a vintage pair of jeans; a book deal.

“We make sense of our lives in order to be free not to have to make sense.”

My life at times feels like a boat in dead waters: waiting to get an agent to love me through the leafy vines; waiting for the sun to go supernova; waiting to hear if there is water on Mars; waiting for a physicist to find the God particle. If only it could be just Waiting For Godot. Why can’t I get a Golden Ticket like Charlie? “I never thought my life could be anything but catastrophe….”

But as King Lear told me the other night, “The art of our necessities is strange.” But the night before that, Mad Cyril told me: “The future is simply a ship in a bottle waiting for the right wave to let you out.”

What has happened to universities and the academic life? Send me off to American Idol with a song in my mediocre heart, but aren’t universities and colleges the Land for the Lotus Eaters? I thought it was the last refuge for exiles, eccentrics, the obsessed, thinkers, libertines, seekers, the disaffected, the lonely, those who don’t wanna grow up, those who fled the working world with Ginsberg’s Howl in their veins, those whose backs were pushed up against the wall by the world and who hopped over it into some cerebral paradise. How did all this professionalism and success and play the bonny tenured prof come about? Shouldn’t universities be letting misfits and miscreants and the mad teach the bright young things of the future?

Why is it that the middle class always work like dogs and yet never have anything to show for it but debt and mortgages and exhaustion and unfulfilled dreams? I don’t want that. I want the Alexandria Quartet in my backyard. I want the sun and moon to pass over my writing desk. And I want to someday go to Bruges as a hitman.

I have gone on long enough. I must get back to my bean field. If I don’t, somebody will think me a curmudgeon in the prime of life. I’m not that irascible. I just have this thing called life breathing down my neck all the time.


On the Brink of the Last Squawk

Spring has brought me the frightening laugh of the idiot. Yes, that’s Rimbaud, from “A Season in Hell.”

But that idiot laugh has left Paris. It’s left Wales. It’s made a nest in Maine.

And what is this laugh that creeps from grass stem to grass stem? Is it afraid of the sun?

Sometimes I can even hear it in the mad taps of the first moth at night, incessantly striving to get into my home. But for what? What does this nighttime insect hope to find? Will it walk across my scalp the same way Neil Armstrong walked across the moon?

My adult life seems more and more a struggle for financial success. Why is that? If I lick the moth’s dust, will I hear moonbeams, or more frantic wings?

Look! There it is. Laughter in the golden forsythia. Is nothing sacred anymore? No. Not since humanity invented a god who created Adam, who in his crude and pathetic way fashioned woman from his rib. What the fuck is all that about? Like god or man knows anything about woman.

I live with three women (well, one is a girl of 6, the other is 15 months), but, if I was to pull a metaphor to explain their creation, I’d say my three women cupped the cosmos in their hands and sifted stars.

There it is again, that lonely and pitiful laughter, like a dirge on the wind, snapping dead stalks, caressing feathery leaves, and nattering some conservative, emasculated flatulence. But no, it’s not some hot wind out from the wilderness, it’s the hot air of men, yapping like hyenas, bouncing like geldings — ignorant of their loss — that a woman’s mind, a woman’s body, every aspect of a woman is up for auction to the highest political bidder in the land.

Sold! For a birth-control pill and a lovely home-made muffin!

There’s that laughter again. Its dry like dirt. And it’s mewling something about women must be made of high-fructose corn syrup and all things domestically nice and never get abortions because children are, well, all those wonderful impressionable minds that religion can pickle in its great big vat of lies.

God, be still, you wicked, wicked laughter, straight out of banality.

Wait, what the hell is that sound now? Sounds like the sweet rill of jester bells. It’s saying, listen up all you high courts of the land, if you want to implement real laws, how about you scrap the white, old-man gene from politics. Let’s fill the Senates and the Houses with 20 year olds — who at least know how to party and have a good time — and not philistines in their dotage and hooked on the drug of power but who don’t wish to change or do anything. With age does not come wisdom to politicians, just blinkers and piss pots under the bed. Or, let’s pass a bill to make sure every man sheaths his John Thomas before intercourse (why must it be left to the ladies to take the pill?). And to ensure this high decree, roving bands of lobbyists will break into your home and sheath you themselves if you fail to cooperate.

Listen, now it’s coming through the cracks in the wall. What, there are cracks in this wonderful old house called civilization? Damn, I thought those were veins of gold, symbols of the good life, reflections of purity, strength, our gains, our growth, our economic powerhouse.

Fool’s gold, caws the crow with the silver eye on the roofless house.

What, now you’re telling me the house has no roof?

Should I tell you there is no foundation, too, hisses the snake, sleepy still from winter’s hibernation, but free of his discarded skins.

Even the daffodils are laughing, bobbing back and forth their yellow trumpets. What’s that they say?

April is cruel because man is cruel, because he can’t stand to love.

God, even if I trample the flowers in all the gardens, I still can’t escape that foolish laughter. So is it me, or does everyone hear it?

Spring. What makes the lamb prance and jump and all I hear is snickering, like maggots in meaningless roadkill.

I must be an idiot to hear such things.

Big Audio Ambitions

Secretly, I long to be a DJ. Had a stint as one during my college years and loved it. I started out with the graveyard shift and maybe one or two drunken listeners and then graduated to a weekend slot that had more audio magnitude allowing me to share the music I love with a wider audience. There’s a fantastic local cummunity radio station here in Maine (WERU) that I’ve got my beedy eyes on.

But until that time, here’s a playlist for anyone who is strongly wishing for anything. Here in Maine, I’m dying for it to be spring. I’d give up my next story idea for a glimpse of a green shoot or a bud feathering to leaf. Or even a damn moth at the window at night.

I’m a strong beliver in using the force that through the green fuse drives the flower!

And since music is such a strong mood inducer, here’s some tonic for the troops:

1. “Aim High” Paul Weller

2. “Town Called Malice” The Jam

3. “Parklife” Blur

4. “The Devil’s Crayon” Wild Beasts

5. “Rat In Mi Kitchen,” UB40

6. “Kool-Aid” BAD

7. “Five Man Army” Massive Attack

8. “My Girls” Animal Collective

9. “Dusted” Leftfield

10. “Sensations in the Dark” Gruff Rhys

Spring Surprised Us

April the cruelest month! No way Mr. Eliot. Not this year.

Elm trees are swarming with white blossoms. Armies of forget-me-knots are thick with green and sending out a few reconnaissance blue flowers. Daffodils are swaying like mad yellow dogs. The forsythia is like liquid gold drizzled along the fields and roads.

Only this morning a platoon of wild turkeys skulked through the back garden, the Jake leading a harem of Jennies, the male’s feathers like an Indian’s headdress. And they want to breed, but not out of a dead earth. Their earth is powered by the dynamo of the green fuse, lighting the garden with green filaments of grass.

At night there are the peepers with their amphibian broadcasts from the small pond outside my window.

And when the moths clamber at the windows with anxious wings, I can’t help but feel the same small excitement as the insects as I finish a sentence in my novel.

It’s the small acts that surprise us the most.

“The way I look at it is this: the rich man is not he who has plenty of money, but he who has the means to live now in the luxurious surroundings given us by early spring.” Chekhov

Cruel Month

“Now the full-throated daffodils,
Our trumpeters in gold,
Call resurrection from the ground
And bid the year be bold.” Cecil Day Lewis

Torrential rain here in Maine. Roads washed out until now they are nothing but broken things. Such a sad thing to happen to a road. Where will they go now? Nothing should end in a pile of debris and the silt and stones of soft shoulders. A road is the original creator of boldness. A road is what takes us on life’s journey. You take it or you don’t, but it’s always beckoning. Boldness begins now, as Goethe wrote. But without a road, that boldness becomes nothing but bravado.

Water is bold, too, in its destructive nature. But it can also be benign and life giving. The duality of nature. Something humanity should not forget as we strive for goodness or lapse into apathy. We can’t deny our dualistic nature. If we do, we are a road washed out in spring. A road to nowhere.