My 800 Words

 So, I started watching this Australian show on Acorn, the Brit equivalent of Netflix, about a guy whose wife has died and he moves himself and his kids to a small town in New Zealand. Called 800 Words, it centers on their new life and on his vocation as a writer, a cute show and I’m sure we will continue to watch it but what struck me was the way it treated writing. Now, I’m sure there are writers out there who can just sit down in front of their laptops and the words just spill out in perfect order and symmetry but for myself that’s not the case. In this show, the main character, a writer, does just that, sits at his laptop speaking as he writes with little or no editing. The reason the show is called 800 Words, is that is the title of the column he writes for a newspaper, as he limits his subject to just 800 words.  

When I write, it takes time and I’m constantly editing my work to the point of being a bit overly anal about it. Every word, every sentence, I try to make perfect and this coming from an English class failure. It’s not in my nature just to sit down and write straight out and if I do I’m consumed by doubts and fears that what I’ve written is just pure shit. Lately, I’ve tried my hand at poetry and that seems to go along okay, I’m no where near being a good poet since I have no idea what I’m doing, but it has caused me to reflect on my own style.
 Right now, I’ve got several pieces, of fiction and nonfiction all in various stages of the process. My problem is procrastination, my mind is a turbine of words and thoughts as I try to write, so much so that I tend to get lost in the spinning blades. The only editing the author in this show did was to eliminate one word to make his 800 word limit, I wish it was that easy. Here I am at over 300 words watching the word count meter ticking up as I write, having no idea where I’m going with all of this. 

 Am I a writer? That’s a good question and one I continually ask myself. Eson Kim, one of the instructors at Grub Street in Boston, has been most encouraging when it comes to what I have written, but then that little voice of doubt creeps in saying, “That’s her job. To make you think you can write, after all you’re paying for the privilege of indulging in your fantasy of being the next Hemingway.” Yes, I do have fantasies of being a decent writer, then I wonder if I have the discipline and smarts to be one. Writing daily so many words, tying each paragraph together, developing characters with some depth, the kind of people easily identifiable by the readers who come upon my hieroglyphics. 

 I know I have a story to tell, it may not be the rags to riches fare, or about lifting oneself from the depths of poverty, despair or some other great tragedy, but there is a story to be told. Is there an audience that will read what I write? Is that really the question I need to ask, is that the only reason to write to find an audience, to be published? It was Eugene Peterson, a writer and minister who I admire, who wrote that he writes because of a deep need to do so, whether or not he has any readers is not the point. I guess that being an Episcopal priest and a person of faith, I should just allow myself enough slack to write and let the words fall where they may. Whether it is poetry, prose, fiction, nonfiction, memoir or just my own reflections on what I hear and see going on, I need to write. 

 Too much is bubbling up inside and like a volcano where the magma has been building up over years, the lava of words just need to be released. It may be messy, incomplete, full of nonsense or just plain nonsensical, but these are my words and my thoughts. 

 So I will plug along, slowly like the tortoise, I’m too old to compete with the young guns out there but each day I will challenge myself to write. Maybe this will eventually become my version of the 800 words. Not a daily write but maybe an occasional reflection on what I see in the world around me. For those of you who have volunteered to ride along on this train, beware, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. My word count is now 795, time to stop writing. 

Poets 

Surrounded by poets

from ancient psalmist

to modern prophets

their words echoing

in the heart and soul.

This is my safe place

where imagination and dreams

are free to roam 

along the edges of the mind,

seeing the colors of the world

in the words they use.

Beauty

in the ugliness 

that surrounds our lives.

Shedding light

on the darkened corners.

These poets speak

their voices cannot be silenced

their passion never dimmed,

their hearts overflow

as the words spill out

watering the garden of life

with tears of joy.

Poetical Metaphor

A true poet, 

sees the rise and fall of the tides 

a metaphor of life

tossed to and fro 

as waves pound the shore.

The true poet 

looks at the sunrise and sunset 

sees the brilliant oranges 

and reds against the clouds,  

and the light behind the light.

The true poet looks at the caterpillar 

munching on a green leaf

seeing the butterfly within its fattening body

ready to spread it’s wings and fly.

The true poet,

writes of love

in it’s purest,

even when that love

breaks open a heart.

The true poet looks at life, 

in all of it’s forms

expressing the human desire 

to love and be loved.

The true poet

lives in the heart

of the imagination

bringing light to truth

whispering loves breath

that calls us from

our darkened prisons.

I’m a Bouncer

I’m a bouncer,

not that kind of bouncer,

the muscular, no necks

who stand watch

over the dimly lit nightclub

watching designer dressed people

sipping their specialty cocktails

while the jazz band plays

eyeing one another,

seeking that one time love

that really isn’t love

but a need to feel something

even if only for a moment.

I’m a bouncer between words

seeking the right combo

playing all the wrong notes

with no rhythm or blues.

Needing to feel something

in the poetry of my life

if only for a moment.

I bounce because I’m scared 

of what might happen

of where the words will take me.

I used to bounce on an old sofa

in the basement of our house

listening to the A-sides of 45’s

on an old Sears and Roebuck

record player I got for Christmas

and there, with music playing

I would bounce and imagine

what some call daydreaming,

of adventures beyond my walls

being the hero who gets the girl

the one who saves the world.

Now here I sit, imagining still

daydreaming away, some say,

as these words flow out.

Nothing is perfect

nothing is easy

so I continue to be just that,

a bouncer needing to feel

if only for a moment.

Digging

It’s like digging out of an avalanche,

nothing but darkness and cold,

suffocating under the shear weight.

Trying, to make the arms and legs work,

moving tons of debris away seeking light.

Each hole I punch out, fills again,

each handful I grab gets only heavier.

The act of digging is emotionally debilitating,

I want to just rest, to close my eyes,

allow the dark and cold to overtake.

If only my mind would let go of the thoughts,

that litter the landscape of the interior.

Looking at the road, seeing the past,

wondering about the future, living in the present,

the rustle of dry leaves underfoot, crunching.