Wednesday, September 06, 2006

9.06.06, Creation & Criticism, Another Poem

Franky Scale 6.73482. IV chemotherapy tomorrow again, early a.m., plug me in and let me go, drip drip recline drip drip dose. It's all a very tiring routine, but this is the final of four weeks in this immediate cycle. Enough said. "Tiring" because it is so much the same, but the sameness is not really what will "save" me. Which means it's just time removal and the Other Big Clock keeps moving. Ineluctable.

* * *
Slarry, you asked about my poetic process, the act of creation regarding that two-day old sonnet. Assuming you're asking seriously, here's a serious answer. My answer deals both with writing and with my cancer experience. I wrote it at night on 8/30. The occasion should be obvious in the broad sense; more specifically, I suppose the poem lends support to my theory that "a writer writes." Again, broad sense, every piece I write presently becomes a standstill image of the larger process I'm undergoing. Back to process, I don't ever sit down and think "OK, time to write a poem." It just wouldn't happen even if I did. I do, however, try to write whenever I get the chance, diaries, essays, problems, small fictions, whatever. It's part of my life theory and my therapy — it's probably a large part of what's kept me alive so far.

If I haven't done it already on a given day, I'll sit down before my keyboard at day's end, and then I'll begin recording events, feelings, whatever hits me. It will start to flow, so long as the mind is open to a choppy flow, verbose flow, disconnected flow, chiastic flow, etc., any kind of flow. Almost always a small narrative emerges. At times, like on 8/30, the lines about a given theme start to thicken, they condense into more economic form, the break in certain places — the lineation often happens of itself. Rhyming almost never happens of itself. Although, a poem's form might just "happen," like the near 14-line form that poem found all by itself. To push it into a rhyme scheme and sonnet form was merely a small puzzle after it was all written. A self-contained "piece" of creation will emerge and my responsibility is to See it, Extract it, and then Rework it. The latter might take one or a hundred times.

Below is another piece. I'm not big on explaining any piece, especially before it's read, . . . so, here is another piece, that's all. All I will say is that the idea came before the content did, which is why you can read it like a written record, which is why actual records could be worked into it—in that sense it is all historical and true. That being said, this piece is still only mostly done; something is still off with it. I just can't identify it yet. It's called "The Premonitioner." Note, the first stanza took place, and I wrote what I wrote, weeks before I was tested or diagnosed.

* * *

“The Premonitioner”

Before Daniel’s birthday after he died: I began to write on death and beauty, two concepts, no facts, always correlate in my brain. The ellipses in the original:

“…and I suppose I should rephrase my thought about death’s approach, my approach to it, since I am going towards it but I write from where I am and where it is — once I arrive the meeting will stop the writing, but what I am doing is coming to die.”

Reversing the direction, of death’s coming, is like hearing Monk play, really hearing. Piano keys are never pushed, they are not hit, they are not struck however gently — Monk rests his hands above the keyboard and lets them fall. Myopic naysayers could not see how he would wait, in full control,
how he would let,
the keys fall

in gentle syncopation.

Every year I rename my journal. Two thousand six on New Year’s Day was titled “Small Steps in Death’s Shadow.”

3 January 2006 untitled day
“. . . I don’t know if stress it the cause or not but my stomach fucking killed last night, right when I was about to sleep.

“Pain tonight too on the 4th, next day.”

“— pain is the most powerful aid to mnemonics.” (Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals 61) Not that we would otherwise forget. . .

4/5 January 2006 slow life dull pains
“. . . Next morning, the 5th, my stomach hurts still. Like this highwire tension, it seems like it won’t go away.”

I would run 6 miles a day. My halfway point a work of public, community art beneath the University Drawbridge, perhaps an anti-war piece, 14-feet tall, encircular, grey & red, in any event called “The Wall of Death.”

8 January 2006 why stay awake
“Sunday morning. Briefly, before the sun was up, sitting at my desk with a fresh cup of coffee, I thought, ‘This is not too bad, I feel pretty good being alive.’”

Consolation, there is no consolation in premonitions. Just one more ringing echo return of dumb fate speaking against the boundless sky. Deaf fate awaiting her return. A clownshow communication you can only watch if you turn on the subtitles.

Morning of 9 February:
“I woke up today and my stomach was hurting again — that nervy and painful feeling that I’ve had nearly every day for months now, and spend hundreds on for bullhsit no medical help.”

“The time to show a message is when too late and later there is no hanging in a blight.” (Stein, Tender Buttons 5)

[Tender Buttons]
2 March 2006
“In the morning I got a ride from Kim to have my endoscopy done, I lived.”

“The one thing you want is to pause so as to puzzle all this out, but that is impossible; you are moving much too fast for your momentum to be halted.” (Ashbery, Three Poems 87)

5 March 2006 cannot wait
“I keep waking up at about 5 every day — now . . . 5:21 and I finally . . . 'fuck it,' more insomnia coming . . . the summertime curse? . . . some other reason . . . stomach feels nervous all the time at night, that . . . pain upper left since last fall?”

10 March 2006 Dr. Peppin bad news
“6:02 PM, Dr. Craig Peppin just called me, at home, at about 5:50, which I’m taking as a sign that he’s concerned.

“Somehow even the line that it could be a kind of cancer just doesn’t bowl me over, but rather seems somehow appropriate, like it was only a matter of time until I would learn that in my life. Why do I feel that way? Will it all be cut short? And more strange however, when I piss and moan about my existential angst all the time, how life is so unsatisfying and I feel almost nothing but of the soul riven by lack then why should that be a worry to me?”

“And would you believe that this word could possibly be our salvation? For we are rescued by what we cannot imagine: it is what finally takes up and shuts our story. . .” (Ashbery, Three Poems 104; italics added)


tossing salads said...

scott, im so sorry. the thoughts we can have, the looking back. its great that youve written this down but then to know it was already there doing its nasty deed. no help in deed. all the strength i have i give to you for tomorrow. the mindless, lying there, drip drip drip. i love you and wish i could do more. i love you always.

Slarry said...

Thank you so much for answering my questions; about your writing and creating a poem.
And of course it was a serious question, you silly, silly man. : )
A question I should have asked you long ago.

It is difficult to find myself appreciating current writing, your Sonnets and poems, because
the content is of your own thoughts on death and dying. ( something that will continue and for always devastate and leave me heart sick-- a big, gaping hole )
But I cannot read your words, without acknowledging their, your brilliance.

Thank you, once again, for teaching me. My brother the poet, the writer.
The amount of time you spend, the dedication and drive and your allowing yourself
to ponder, re write and refine is so overtly obvious-- so your thoughts are completely reflected in your words.

Then you follow your response with yet another poem, pieces of your journal, parts of your
heart. Your Premonitions. I am too overwhelmed, with grief, fear, loneliness, awe, sadness to comment. I had no idea you were in that much pain back in January. And your thoughts about Dan, are departed nephew and your Premonitions about your own health---
how does one respond to that? I wish for this .. I wish that ... and the whys? It just makes me sick and sad.

I love you Scott. I hate that you have cancer. You mean more to me than you possibly know or even realize. You have blessed my life all of your 38 years, just as you are blessing and adding to it now. I truly can’t imagine my life, a life without you in it.
And so your words, your poems and anything and everything that you write or say,
makes everything more important. Things, other stuff I used to worry about, mean nothing to me now. They are trivial and unimportant when one factors in the importance of you,
your life and all that you offer.

And even though I have episodes of sadness and bouts of grief, I am here for you--
in every sense of the word. For whatever you want or need or anything I can do to make your life more comfortable, so you can do what you need and want to do.

I will be thinking of you my brother tomorrow, as I always do-- but with more awareness
and greater understanding. The dripping, the portocath, the surgical gloves-- everything. I hope you have good company with you. I will be by your side, even all the way from Utah-- knowing that you see the same moon that I do. And it will be a big one tonight and tomorrow.
The beginning of Autumn is arriving and you are still as alive and vibrant as ever.

Love you,

How can people not comment on these thoughts,
your poems ??? I know it is hard, but oh so needed.

Myage said...

As with all great writing, this post taps into something universal. It ties together in a most personal but accessible way things that I hope are as helpful to you as they are to those of us reading. You are strong and I love you.