A writer’s lament: Absent ability (Forgive the alliteration)

Last night, that would make it Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, I tried to write a free-formed poem with a new style that minimized word usage; a poor man’s Hemingway, I suppose. I failed miserably. It was called “I just had it.” To those few who suffered through the poem, and there were a few, I apologize.

I always looked at poetry as a puzzle; something hidden inside like a majestic surprise. These works inspired strong debate, intense discord, soft unity, and finally, a cathartic understanding. Great stuff. My poetry produces headaches. Life is grand.

I would say it won’t happen again, but it will. No question. I’m not very good at this but I do love it. Been pestered by writing my entire life. My head’s full of strangeness, blandness, stories, dreams, love, hate. Head full of colliding stuff. Noisy as hell in there. When I write it quiets the noise.

There’s something about writing that puts my mind, body at ease. When I write of deep sadness, I feel elated. When I write of great happiness, I feel sad. How about that for being nuts?

I’ve always written. Always. The first poem I ever wrote and shared with someone, members of my family to be exact, I was maybe 7, resulted in ridicule. Whoa is me. Right? Reeeeeeaaaaaally! Who cares. When you get right down to it, if something is being done that equals breathing, you just keep doing it.

I guess it would be more polite not to share such mutterings publicly, but that’s kind of chicken-shit. Pardon my French. Writing poems, columns, blogs, novels, stories – whatever, must be shared. That’s the key. Not to win over the hearts and minds of others but to throw it out into the rushing waters where it may catch on something. Where it may stick to something, somebody. Maybe, somebody will raise their heads and smile broadly towards the night sky blushing with stars like I did when I finished reading “Sweet Thursday” by John Steinbeck. Please understand I’m not even in the same universe as Mr. Steinbeck, but when I read “Sweet Thursday,” I longed to be alive only to discover that I was alive. That’s pure joy.

Then again my writing is more prone to cause mild irritation at the obvious ineptitude of the scribe.

But I write and write some more. I used to scribble daily observations in a notebook when I was basically living without a permanent address. Nowadays that’s called homeless. In my day I was called a bum and a bum I was. Just random thoughts basically fueled by sadness and confusion. It was my best friend, this small dog-eared, green, pocket-sized notebook. I don’t have it anymore. I wish I did. I miss it.

One time during my road rushes, I wrote an entrance piece for a university, “The Autobiography of a Jamaican Strongman or Spontaneous Scientific Thought Concerning Western Civilization.”

The words in the poem formed pictures. A friend took the piece and using a fine form of calligraphy transferred the entire production to a continuous roll of bathroom towels. The old kind that were rough, brown and without tear perforations. Just one solid sheet of paper. She then burned the edges with a match, forming a kind of scroll, and tied a crimson ribbon around it. I presented it to the university and was accepted on the spot. Funny thing was, I didn’t much care for school, to sedentary. But this college had no grades. Couldn’t even fail. Just a no credit. I got a shitload of no credits. God bless the 60s.

And there you have it. The writer’s lament: Absent ability you keep breathing, keep writing and maybe, just maybe, catch a ride on the Sweetness of all Thursdays.

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About stevewhitmore

Former award-winning newspaperman and broadcast journalist, both radio and TV, spanning three decades. Army-trained paralegal, court bailiff and prosecutor's lead investigator for the 8th Infantry Division's Judge Advocate General's Corp., Mainz, Germany. 1973-1975.
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