When an author is not just an author…

author mta_large1Half (and not the good half) of an author’s life is about what it means to be an author, and the other half is about forgetting that first half.

Concern for a Living
I am a struggling author;
poor, undiscovered, hungry,
delusional, fond of intoxication,
paranoid and jealous of others’
prose and publication,
ignorant of my own surroundings
in a proud detachment
I must have learned as necessary
to the self-imposed sadness
to summon my muse,
my war, my tragedy, my novel
which will save me from myself,
propel me reluctantly to fame,
movie and gaming rights
or allow me to write freely
without concern for a living.

Dear Author
It has taken me all month to finish your novel,
the one about two friends who were once close
but for some unexplained reason are no longer,
living lives vaguely dependent on each other
in some mysterious, invisible cosmic fellowship
which you take six hundred pages to explain,
how once they finished the other’s thoughts,
liked the same ordinary, everyday things
which fill lives without reason or purpose
but define idiosyncrasies like dental records,
they both had a bad experience wisdom teeth,
girlfriends, tomatoes, an inability to finish things
like friendships until they meet again on a train,
airport bound and discover nothing’s changed,
just older and fatter and both flying to Houston
for the same trade show, one selling, one buying,
same hotel, both divorced, kids indifferent
and unimpressed by life, they should grab a bite,
catch-up, where has the time gone, etc.,
but they never see each other it turns out,
and that’s okay – that’s how you end the novel,
and the dust jacket is dotted with quotes
from famous authors, all filled with praise
about how this is the Great American Novel,
because this is America according to everyone.

Muncie
If I were born in Iowa I should have
become an author,
which is very different from a writer
or even a poet;
for the long winters would force
dark, ever-more
complicated plots descending
down snow banked, gloomy ways
with just flashes of light
passing so quickly they first blind,
then force you to wonder if they
were real at all;
Iowa doesn’t beget writers, for their
ways are hurried,
whiplashed barrages of shallow
persons with ironic twists
turning into ever more ironic
turns in the helter-skelter ways of
cities like Chicago which has more than
its share of such people – writers as well
as such persons too busy
complaining about what is
considered normal in Iowa that
it is become their sport;
now a Minnesota birth would surely
encourage poetry, but usually
the kind that rhymes with
everyday life,
because, let’s face it,
in the confines of cabin those
tight circles of rhymes
come easily as a neighbor
with a hot dish
ringing the door chime, or,
maybe, it would be
birds on fences, cows a-lowing
in a nativity
outside the Twin Cities,
the wisdom of matches
cobbled from life’s woods near
Emo, or how quiet
farmers are the salt of
the earth, no doubt in part due
to the pickled herring;
yes, it’s easy to see what I
would be if born in Iowa, so it’s
too bad I’m from Muncie, Indiana.

Critical
Aroused at meridian to a brilliant dismay,
mentation unfettered from eremitic seclusion,
banishing juvenile primum non nocere,
no longer pursuing the illusory conclusion.

Analogies abound in the world of intention,
reference revered in the present symbolic,
authors contest with readers’ intervention,
creating the occasion of receptive frolic.

Burrow wide and well in channel virginal,
render again and anew the company kept,
embrace untried manners regarded novel,
sequestering fantasy and religion except.

Construed for current contentment,
the extant subscriber seeks to narrate
hermetic theft  of meaning’s attendant
tomorrow’s uncertainty day gestate.

I only drive through Indiana…

indiana_with_torch_star_logo.svgChicago to anywhere east leads through Indiana. And because I’m always on my way to anywhere else, I’ve never given Indiana much thought. Its state motto isn’t much different it turns out: The Crossroads of America; so I don’t feel bad.

Driving east from Indianapolis and winding through the backwoods toward southwest Ohio there is a little place that slows you down. Right there in the middle of nowhere is a sign for a church with a name I never forgot.

The Fourth Church of the Defector

With a population of just 203 according to the road sign,
a number from long before the U.S. Census started to
officially ignore what folk’s around here call Harold’s Creek,
where Indiana State Road 44 crosses County Road 260E,
past Salem Road at the only hollow in the earth for miles,
with six dusty, empty stores too close to the two-lane
and everyone blames Walmart for that, but the truth is
they’ve been vacant so long no one can really remember,
yet they know who to blame so they can sleep at night,
there’s no religion here with two abandoned churches,
one was a Methodist clapboard and looks so Americana,
the other a brick Presbyterian looking so Presbyterian,
and they sit on opposite corners of the four-way stop
now ignored as obviously as these churches once were,
but it’s easy to imagine the booming voices of preachers
out-sermonizing one another through open windows
on steamy mornings while their faithful flocks nodded off,
and there’s a big, old sign with an arrow pointing nowhere
to The Fourth Church of the Defector, founded in 1892,
a church started when no other church could be right,
and it took at least four iterations to get this one right,
which makes one wonder, how bad could it have been,
back in 1892 that is, but then you recall a bit of wisdom,
that when there’s nothing to fight about people give up,
and sometimes they just give up anyway, like here
at Harold’s Creek near State Road 44 and County 260E.