Who was the last poet you read? Were they living at the time you began to read their writing? When asked about what poetry they like what does everyone answer? cummings? Frost? Dickenson? Shakespeare? Have you heard the names Louise Gluck, Billy Collins, or Phillip Levine? Why is it that there hasn’t been a visible cannon in Poetry since the ’60s? Why is it that one has to follow poetry to know the current names? Is this because we aren’t teaching anything than the previous Cannon? Is this because it’s harder and less lucrative profession? Is it because reading it is too much work for our sitcom/reality TV A.D.D. minds? (I’m less inclined to believe this last one)
Whatever the reason Poetry, though not my favorite form, can create beautiful spectrum’s of emotion in a more succinct and visceral manner than anything written out in prose or text. So the next time you sit in front of the TV think about picking up the latest Billy Collins for a quick poem. It wont take you more than 2 or 3 minutes to absorb and let settle into your brain and heart. It might start to change your opinion of its worth.
(by the way Gluck, Collins and Levine are all Poet Laureates from the last decade)
In honor, here are a few of my own:
The bright white flash of the city
Exploding paper is hilarious
more so than deconstructing
drinks. The flow of time makes
for illuminous revelations with
exposition that makes no sense
and dialogue which is trite.
What better way to celebrate the
night than to discuss diatribes
of normalcy and illusions of delusion.
Sunday at the bar
devouring thier hoppy
indifference with the
order of benevolence.
Smiles as big as a
Chrysler grill. Loose
immoral bodies thrusting
and grinding to the
Thud thud thud
power these people
How is happiness so
How can this cause so much
At home squalor,
ignoring the fugus which
grows on thier month
old dishes. Who is accountable?
Living a college life;
living paycheck to
It’s amazing the difference sitting down and actually working makes. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, even when I was a little boy. The moment I decided for sure was probably around the time my underused little mind aged eight years. I saw a movie for the first time, and although it’s just an ok movie there’s a portion that stuck with me; haunted me.
The movie was “Stand By Me” (This was before I’d even discovered Stephen King so you can’t blame it on that). The scene where the boys are sitting out in the woods and they all beg Gordy for a story and, without complaining, he tells an intricate little story so mature, but then again so quintessentially teen. He tells this story with so much moxy and vigor that when he finishes the other boys all groan, laugh and fall about the place. It’s just a movie sure, but while other people would laugh and shake thier heads, I was enthralled. That was so cool! I thought. Two years later I read an introduction to the “Bachman Books” and in it, Stephen King says that in his head there are many people and they all have a history. The more he looks at them the more the story of their lives takes shape. He also said a majority of his stories started because he would see an image and ask What if?
What if a rabid dog trapped a woman and her child in a car?
What if there were a monster in the sewer?
What if there were a monster in the closet?
What if a little shop of curiosities was owned by the devil?
Once the question was asked, one of the residing characters would take up the mantle and beg for the story to be told.
I thought Holy Crap! Thats me!
So I pulled out a type writer and fed the paper in, relishing the warm toner smell and the crispness of the the fresh paper. I got swept away by the hum of the typewriter and I came up with “The Heavy Metal Bands” and I never looked back.
“The Heavy Metal Bands” was a story of how a few friends got together and formed a heavy metal band, then because of their strong personalities they also became a gang. Somehow this worked in my pre-teen mind. That story spurned four more stories, ending with the lads saving the world. All told, all five of those stories filled out about 4 pages worth of text.
Then I moved onto other things (Like the Marty Brothers, based on myself and my brother Steve; an echo of the Hardy Boys), but length was always an issue. I couldn’t seem to write anything longer than four or five pages. I got so disturbed by this that most of the things I wrote were bulbous unwieldy ten page stories, with more filler than a Twinkies.
I hadn’t yet found out what I was doing, but I thought the point would be length, the story had to be longer for anyone to read it. I started to read a lot at this point, trying to see how people did it and getting lost in their stories in the process. Then my senior year in high school I took a creative writing class, and where almost everything I did during that class was horrible, but I got to see how others wrote and what their process was. I hated the class but it did give me more perspective and a deeper desire to write more.
It’s been a challenge. My whole life I’ve struggled with the juxtaposition of the desire to write and the lack of writing talent. how many people in the world are like this? how many people who strive to actors love the craft, but have no skill? What about painters? What give these people success when only one out of a million people are born talents at what they desire to do.
Stephen King was born with drive and talent, and he’s successful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. I have drive, I wonder where I’ll end up…
I wrote this introspective little gem a little while ago at a time when the writing was flowing smoothly, my book was just published and I felt on top of the world. Then I found myself eventually collapsing into worries over problems, some of them personal some of them worldly, and eventually the grasp on my panache slipped a little and a finger of uncertainty slipped in. That finger poked and prodded until it opened up a hole which sucked my creative thoughts and trajectory from my brain. I thought it wouldn’t effect me because of my strength, but I devolved into artistic truancy and emotional malaise.
I saw my life for the first time without success and I wondered if it would ever be possible. In fact I even began to fear it, because it would mean I would have to continue and for the first time in my life I couldn’t visualize the story in my head. How can you write other books if you’re bored when you sit down to write? I would be a manager for the rest of my life. I could proceed and I could make decent money at it, but I would be a manager. My traveling would be limited, devoid of scheduling flexibility and every woman I would meet would hate my dedication portrayed through long hours. I saw the road leading down that hill towards the setting sun and I stopped and took a deep breath. The easy road, the one that led down and towards the beautiful sunset was appealing, but then I turned and saw up the mountain and realized that I have not yet proved that I could do it. So I sat down at the computer and I vomited on the keyboard (metaphorically), then I sat down the next day and did it again, and again. Eventually visualization of people and locations materialized and my vocabulary began to return and my heart relaxed. It’s 12:31AM…
The anachronism that is my writing life
It’s 2:44AM. My cat is lying asleep in bed and I’m sitting in front of my computer, my dyspepsia blaring and my eyes blurring. I gaze past the empty Coke cans, from my artist’s model hand to my book of Twilight Zone stories (lit only by the soft glow of the monitor) and wonder what I’m doing. Why am I awake? Why did I drink that Coke at 2:00AM? Why cant I slow my mind down and just relax? Why do I force this on myself?
In my day job I manage a bookstore. I have 45 employees and I’m a corporate whore. My daytime language is all business parlance. Learning Plans. Store Manager Action Plans. Business Acumen. Performance Management. I stride through the store giving my direct reports thier priorities for the day. I look at the employees and I contemplate thier personalities and thier strengths and I fit them into little boxes on my succession map.
When I’m home and alone, I’m in front of the computer creating lives. Specific personality attributes collide in my head and I see a character. I see them in a snapshot or a Polaroid, if you please. I see men and women as they are, without thier protective shells. I hear thier voices and read thier thoughts. There’s a man sitting in a room. The room is dark and he’s alone. There is a small crease in his brow, indicating consternation. The room is spartan with only one book lying on the floor behind the simple wooden chair he’s sitting in. That book is “The Bell Jar.” Do you know what he’s thinking? That’s the greatest part about writing. You can layer on infinite articles or events and you’re the only one who knows what’s happening.
So why do I deal with Corporate Initiatives, Selling Culture and SMART Goals while burning my nights in front of the computer in a portentious insomniatic glaze? I love the romanticism of it. The glorification of the struggling artist. My office is covered in books, tomes of introspection, entertainment and knowledge and as I look around I feel both solace and restlessness. I want more. I want to know more. I want people to know that if you need to know something Sean’s the one to ask. When people think of me I want them to think of me as a writer erudite enough to facilitate that other life. So why do I push myself to odd hours and split my attentions to the point where I’m spead thin, when I can imagine other people and every possible outcome of their situation? The answer is; I cant help myself. My brain wont stop. When a new challange presents itself I have to take it, just to prove to myself that I can do it (and maybe everyone else in the process). I’m going to make it. I’m going to facilitate my desires. I can adapt and succeed on my own terms and I can live the American Dream.
This is one of the desire poems from the Bowling Alley period. This is probably also one of the very last times you’ll be seeing something from that time period, everything else is fractured and incomplete, sentences and phrases and short lines of verse. I like to think that one day I’ll find the time to bring all that together, but for now I’m focused on finishing “Book of Antiquity” the first book of the Revolution trilogy. Be warned…this is one of the most emo things I’ve ever written.
I spend my time pining
while your attention
goes to him.
I fantasize about our embrace
The warm clasp that seems
to brighten the spirit.
A cold realization.
You’re dreaming too…
I hold onto delusion
like a climber with no carabiner.
I’m at risk.
It feels good.
Danger and infatuation
go hand in hand.
You revel in the peace
and ease he creates.
Who am I to kid?
Who am i to compete?
Against convenience and memory?
I must have lost.
It’s hard to chase the horizon,
The empathetic myth of love,
When cold fronts pervade.
I see his smile
I feel sick
He knows he won.
But what is the prize?
A fake idea of property?
Who am I to kid?
Who am I to compete?
Against convenience and memory?
I must have lost.
Fake contrivance of belief.
Falsehoods once held true.
Facades of love.
Your relaxed smile,
his lazy arm around your shoulders.
So who am I to kid?
Who am I to compete?
Compete for love
and absolution to grief?
Against convenience and memory?
Fuck it, I lost!
This is a special poem for me. It was written stream of consciousness style, on a beautiful day with the sun beating down on my face while I sat at a cafe by the beach. I had just heard my Grandmother died. I wrote it for her and I guess, a little for myself as release.
The Sweetness of Love
Sleep so deep
Let the warm glow
Bless your plight.
Dressing your inhibitions in a wooden box;
expressed ruminations hung so low,
desperate cries for your life,
Suppressed by urges of superfluous testosterone.
Do you still believe?
Do you remember the dream?
Your un-arching faith in me?
What was the motivation,
for love in this pedantic narcissist?
A poem so greatfully
dedicated to you,
now confusingly about me-
Perhaps this convoluted
search for meaning
is encapsulated by the words
you once said to me:
“I love you honey,
Never give up.”