Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Highways and hypocrites

In which we revisit the lessons of John and Ray

So all day we've thought about it, the stupid, fucking ride to work. AGAIN. It seems to haunt us, this ride, with small reason -- just 20 overly familiar miles down an ordinary northern Indiana highway. It's the time of year, we're blaming this liar of a September that mixes the first air of autumn over river and fields that hang on to something sultry and slightly oppressive; the mist coalesces and tries to hide whatever's coming, hanging over the flat land, sending fingers close to the highway but rarely reaching it. And the sun! Behind it all! It's killing us, that light at our back, blinding us in the mirrors, even as it kills the fog it touches. And what does it make us want to do, stop the car and take photographs of the way fog hovers over the fricking soybeans -- the soybeans! -- the way it curves around the solitary trees and humps over the wind-rows? A real artist would either ignore it, if they were smart, or give in and say, stop, say to hell with work, what's a half-hour? Find somewhere to pull off where the traffic won't annihilate your car, or yourself. Take the pictures somehow, anyhow, carry them to work with you, lug them around all day. Bring them home and throw them somewhere, throw them anywhere, maybe away. And for god's sake quit trying to make the stupid, fucking, ordinary fog anything more than it is. A real writer would leave that cloud in the rearview mirror, and not look back.

Not like we didn't try to tell you before

Riding with Carver and Keats
Ray, I thought of you this morning as I
drove through the Little River's shallow valley
on my way to work, my head stupefied
by radio news, the world too much with me.
Remember the poem you wrote, One More?
That day you left a verse unwritten,
tending to phone calls and letters, the poor
business of writing? Words will come, unbidden;
We ignore them, slide past, our poems dying
before they live. Oh Ray, let's remember John --
ply our pens to what this dappled dawn brings, try
to trace the shadows before they are gone:
Resurrect the luminous saffron rays;
Plough through the morning's moody, low-slung haze.


The fog of writing is like the fog war / You lie to yourself and you pretend you can do it so you can do it more / You make things right, you make some sense / You change the names to protect the guilty and you change the tense / Can I change your mind?

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