Sunday, June 12, 2016

I Have Forgotten How It Goes

It's embarrassing how little I remember sometimes.

I have an English degree, and the head full of dusty literature that comes with it, but all too often I fail to recollect the lines I need to recall, when I need to recall them.

Others stick forever with me, even if the context of their origin is sometimes fuzzy.

"This is history, how it sounds. What do I love? Remind me."

That's a line from the poet Bin Ramke, best I remember it, from his work "When Culture Was Popular," which is part of his anthology Massacre of the Innocents.

I met him, somewhere along 1997 or so, shortly after that was published. He spoke to an advanced creative writing class I was part of, only a dozen or so students, and we sat in a coffee shop and asked endless questions about his work, his process, hoping, each of us, to capture some bit of magic from this master in our midst, each still sheltering at least some fragment of a dream that we could be the sort of practitioner he had become -- stable, employed, respected. Any two of those, maybe. Hell, one, so long as it was part of an existence as a writer.

I don't have to tell you I'm one of the ones who didn't make it. That sort of statement is redundant to tell someone who has made it here to this neglected little spot online.

These days the very best lines of poetry I make -- any writing at all, really -- stay in my head for the little bit of time they last before I dismiss them, usually before even approaching a writing implement.

Then days like this come along -- 50 Dead in Orlando -- and all I want is to be back in that coffee shop, dreaming those dreams, because at least then I still believed that words mattered, that something someone wrote might make a difference, than any little piece of peace in this world was achievable ...

But that part of the dream is as lost as the rest of it, and I just sit here wondering what any of it matters, anywhere, anymore.

I am tired of the sound of history, and I do not remember what I love anymore ... but I am trying, I am here today, trying, to remind myself.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

My Challenger Lesson, Strong 30 Years After

I was 10.

Space was exciting, astronauts were cool.

I'm sure I had watched other shuttle launches. In memory, it seems there was always an emphasis on them at school, and they would always be on the news.

I don't remember when, exactly, I learned of the explosion. I'm pretty sure we didn't watch it live at school -- that would have left a definite impression -- but I don't know if it was announced there or if I heard about it later, at home, on the evening news.

What I distinctly remember is my father, discussing it at the dinner table.

I think, perhaps, he was trying to ease my fear about the incident. (I was afraid of a great many things when I was young, often irrationally, and something as awful as the shuttle explosion would set me right off.)

I don't remember a lot of the details in the conversation, but I remember one part of it very distinctly: my father, saying, "I'd go up tomorrow if they asked me."

I imagine he'd say the same today, as would I.

We do not fear our failures; we learn, we move on, ever hopeful.

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Big Step

Yeah, yeah, I've been remiss in writing. This may or may not change.

What will change?

Attitudes in the United States of America.

Today I celebrate with friends, family, and friends-who-are-like-family the Supreme Court's ruling that, yes, in fact, equality is a thing in this nation of ours and we will, on occasion, stand up and loudly defend the application of that equality to all our citizens.

No more counting the states where same-sex marriage is legal -- it's all of 'em.

No more counting the days until the holdout states must recognize same-sex marriage -- it's now.

No more "same-sex marriage," actually -- it's just marriage.

There's still a long road ahead; bigotry doesn't die just because you tell it how the Constitution works.

There's still a long way to walk on that road, and it winds through worse places, truly dark places of hatred and violence.

Today, though, we stand in a beautiful glade and admire a rainbow.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Trappist Toast

Today would have been my maternal grandmother's 89th birthday. 

My mom and my younger sister, who still live in our hometown, usually visit her grave, and, since the timing is right, use this as the occasion to put out the holiday poinsettias at the family plot. 

My sister plays Roy Orbison songs because he was my grandmother's favorite.

I'm never quite sure what to do with myself. 

I don't live close enough to visit the cemetery, and I don't have the same connection to the music as my sister. 

Usually I spend some time thinking of her, remembering, wondering, imagining the things I would talk to her about if I she were here, as though she'd just been away for a while. 

Today, I decided to go try a new Trappist beer. 

I don't recall her ever drinking beer, and I don't know what opinions she might have had about Trappist monks. She died well before I took an interest in either, so her take on these subjects shall remain a mystery to me, a couple more items on the long list of things I wonder about when I think of her and all the years she's been gone. 

I imagine she'd tell me to enjoy myself, and probably chide me to behave and not overdo it, and I'd assure her that drinking Trappist beer is a religious experience, not an intoxicating one. 

And she'd get the joke, which would elicit that disapproving-yet-loving scowl of hers, and she'd tell me to come closer, which I would do despite knowing what was coming. 

What was coming would be a grandmotherly swat on the backside and her wagging a finger and telling me to be nice or the Devil would get me. 

And I would nod, and agree, and never tell her I'm agnostic. 

Then she would tell me I need to write more, and I would promise that I'm working on it, and I would mean it, because no one breaks promises to Nanny. 

So the end of the day would find me savoring the beer, blinking my watery eyes, and keeping the promise.