Category Archives: Writing

Prologue

My father doesn’t read books anymore
He doesn’t really give an explanation why
It’s just something he gave up
Just as someone would cast away an old rug, a clock, something on a countertop that visitors might glance at, touch without realizing it
while immersed in crowded kitchen chatter.

He used to be writer, a believer in folded corners
and slice of life plotlines, characters with tight-fisted secrets
that slow burn like a lantern beside the bed
He used to trace the words with his finger as he drank them in
and adjust his glasses between chapters.

It’s not something he’ll tell just anyone who wants to talk
literature. If you bring up Barth or Updike
You can see a kindling in his eyes — an understanding of cadence and transcendence and the soft curve of a liquid reflection:
Metaphors like the woods and opera and smiles across hissing summer fires.
He remembers these things like old lovers
They never quite go away.

If you recommend a book to my father he’ll politely decline. It’s not for him
— like knitting or hunting or drinking alone.
He’ll read the newspaper with a side of oatmeal and fruit, and
clear his throat when he turns the page.

When my father reads anything I’ve written
he is slow to respond, sparse with his words
But I can see his eyes glassy with a daydream:
Upon a tree of only branches,
there is a bud that begins to open up.

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Writers Kill Trees

I have a problem with language
So I went to the bookstore
To be cured by famous names

What say you Cheever, Dumas, Sexton?
What sort of customer service do you offer
With your compact black type
So succinct, so certain
Of your uncertainty
Backhanded phrases, long-winded questions
Raised up from crumpled compost
Of insecurely inked tragedies

Who will tell me right from wrong?
Who will challenge gravity when it keeps us
Swollen, down?
Who will invent a new God to tell the old one
You had your chance
But you taught your kids the silent treatment?

It’s funny that some things float upstream
And some not at all
And some disintegrate at the sight of their reflection in
Mellow, colorless water

But some things know how to live
How to bend then break then bloom
How to write a novel from peeling bark
Favored by old wiry trees
To tell a story about plane crashes or sword fights
or making love under some mess of stars

The walls dividing each bookshelf are thin
So thin you can almost hear voices seeping
From the pages on the other side
You might believe they are right up next to you
Crawling out from wooden planks with little light
Sputtering from dust-coated lungs

They warn me time and time again
You are an endangered species.