When the spigot turns

I can’t just turn the spigot and the words come pouring out into rockets, bells and poetry. I have to sit in an easy chair and THEN turn the spigot.

I have to pick up a pen or turn on the computer and imagine a girl whose mother was an explorer of time and space and dimensions. I have to look out the window and write down what I see. I have to listen to music and feel what I feel and then tell you. I have to read a book about living on Prince Edward Island during a terrible war overseas and process what that was like. I have to jump at the sound of a bird being surprised that the open space into my well-lit room is a barrier he couldn’t see — and hope he wasn’t dashing so fast to get into this space that he’s crumpled and forever gone below. (He wasn’t.)

In short, I have to live and, living, write the life into words.

Everything I see and hear and feel and smell and taste is something to write about. It all collects inside, welling up in the well, until I sit down and turn the spigot.

And so, on a morning when I’m not sure what to write, I just start the fingers to forming words and see what they tell me.

Getting ’er done

So you want to accomplish something, but you don’t have time? Of course you have.

You’re awake 16 hours a day; surely you have a few minutes to spend on That Thing You Want To Do.

Even one little task is more than nothing: Put one thing on eBay. Look up how to start a business. Write 100 words of your novel. Send out one resume.

If you do that every day, you’ll at minimum have put 365 things up for sale, written 36,500 words, applied for 365 jobs, by the end of the first year.

Put up a little sign where you can see it first thing: “What can I do today?” and then, before you put your head back on the pillow, do that one thing. You’ll sleep better, and soon you’ll see progress. Heck — Even that one thing is progress, isn’t it?

5 images, 5 senses

It was there. He could tell. As quiet as it was, a presence waited nearby.

o o o

A peanut buttery aroma wafted through the room as he unscrewed the cap and took a deep breath.

o o o

Fumbling in the dark, he felt a sudden slimy ooze that didn’t belong. Had he left the grape jelly out, or was this something more sinister?

o o o

The wine sloshed in his mouth so sweet and bitter simultaneously that he didn’t want to swallow right away, but when he did, it warmed his body as it coursed down his throat toward the inevitable glaze.

o o o

He tried to close his eyes, but he couldn’t. The two trains barreled toward each other, sparks flying from their wheels in those furious seconds when everyone tried to stop the juggernauts in their minds knowing they were helpless to do anything. And then they met and the real chaos started.

The 1948 nickel

There it was, a little piece of evidence, proof that life existed before I was born. Then I realized I was surrounded by such evidence — the 1941 Philco radio, the fragile newspaper dated 1915, the Will Rogers biography from 1935 that spoke of his recent death.

What was it about the 1948 nickel that astonished me, all of a sudden? Was it the knowledge that mints minted coins years before I had a hint of what a mint was? Was it the premonition that after I am gone, the universe will continue?

The small token of years gone by reminded me how small I am but also that time’s a-wasting.

I wasn’t sure whether to set it aside as a constant reminder or just spend it.

For Emily, whenever I may find her

I picked up my old college edition of selected Emily Dickinson poems on an impulse and opened at random — I read 97, 99, 98, 103, 100, 102, 101, and said, “No more! My brain’s exploded, this is so much in so few words —”

It was another example of the power of the book shelf — what fireworks await the brave soul who dares pull one down and peek inside — the passion and the mind that crafted the words together — almost too much to comprehend, and yet comprehension was what she sought.

The book, not nearly as ravished as it deserves after near 50 years, but at least as evidence this is not my first exploration since college, here’s a note inside marking “137, 168, 1” but tucked between pages 150 and 151, as if to suggest poems 170, 171, 172, and/or 173 hold some treasure I wanted to return to.

And here are two drops of coffee on the cover as evidence I’ve been here since my coffee-less college days, but the note (”War — Stan Lee, QVC, Wednesday, 8-10 p.m.”) is from a pad with a former wife’s name, circa early 1990s, so it’s about 30 years since I last heard from Emily. I feel shame, but then I see so many other minds to mine on these shelves, and her volume is slim and unassuming, easy to overlook. Still — but still, here she is now.

A musically disjointed Saturday morning riff

“Let’s see what the night can do (I wanna get lost)” — “Drive,” Jason Mraz

“Here’s to the infinite possible ways to love you” — “Have It All,” Jason Mraz

Maybe when it’s writing time, I shouldn’t put words and music on the turntable …

I do think Jason Mraz fills a niche that once had folks like John Sebastian in it. Mraz is like a modern Lovin’ Spoonful — catchy pop with an edge.

“I think we could be bigger than cheese and macaroni …”

“Better With You” — also really good.

“I am on a lonely road and I am traveling traveling traveling traveling” — “All I Want,” Joni Mitchell

Sure, I’ll concentrate on writing better if I put Joni Mitchell’s masterpiece on … Blue and Ladies of the Canyon would be on my desert-island list. This morning’s light bulb is that I’d include Know, too.

My most vivid memory of youth is that on Saturday morning, Dad would listen to his records. The stereo system was an integral part of the living room furnitures, with a shelf of LPs packed side by side. I that sense I am my father’s son — my creative corner was not perfect until I had a turntable and a cube full of records within reach.

Why don’t I write more appreciations of the music that has given me hours and hours of pleasure through the years? I must have several days if not weeks of entertainment sitting on shelves around the house. “Where your treasure is, there is your heart.” Obviously my heart is in music — and books, of course.

“Songs are like tattoos, you know I’ve been to sea before …”

I bet I could write a thousand blog posts that begin, “You gotta hear this album.”