Epistolary Poetry: Some Writer’s Thoughts (NaPoWriMo day 11)

Today’s NaPo’s challenge was to write a two-part poem as an exchange of letters. The first stanza, part, or poem was to be the letter-poem that I wrote to someone. The second part, the letter I received in response. The length, form, and subject matter were to be of my choosing.

I wrote one letter to two men, George Carlin, and Johnny Cash. Each answered separately. Cash used a poem he wrote 18 years ago.


Dear Messrs. Carlin and Cash,

I am sometimes compared to George,
but seldom to Johnny Cash.
I love music and humor, especially
the more cerebral, sarcastic jokes
of George’s accompanied by adult language.
Every day, I listen to Mr. Cash recite the poem,
The Cremation of Sam McGee
as part of my playlist. All three of us spent
time in the Air Force, although the length of time
and conditions of departure differ. I like
to write. I know that both of you considered
yourselves writers. But you were better known
in other professions, which was how I found you.
If this letter gets to you (I’m told you died),
please give me advice about my writing.
You can see it on my blog.

Regards (I miss you both), Bill

***

Dear Bill,

I asked around about you. I learned that, like me, you were raised in the Catholic faith and attended parochial school, but now you’re out of all that. A synonym for parochial is narrow- or closed-minded. Never forget that. You’ll never get over it. You are not like me. So, don’t worry. We have no wifi or computers or cell phones here, but no matter. If you want to write just do it. Fuck what anyone else thinks. Remember, both the man in black and I had our stage personas and our real acts. Recall also that I loved the live performances. I can’t speak for Johnny, but I bet he did too. Holy shit, he did concerts for prisons. Oh, you have a lot goin’ on. Enjoy it all man, for as long as you can.

Best of Luck, Old Man.
George

***

Hey Mister Bill,

Don’t cha just love writing poetry? I did for sure.
Songs too, but it’s all about the same stuff.
I’m gonna give you my answer as a poem
I wrote back in 2003, Called “Forever.”

“You tell me that I must perish
Like the flowers that I cherish
Nothing remaining of my name
Nothing remembered of my fame
But the trees that I planted
Still are young
The songs I sang
Will still be sung”*

Good luck to ya, Sir. And
God bless….Johnny

*Poem “Forever” by Johnny Cash from Forever Words: The Unknown Poems.


Look both ways and try to accept what help you can get.
Mind the gaps and truth behind the masks.

Morality Series: LUST!

You’ve been waiting for this one, right?

lust-4As a noun or verb; it means a very strong sexual desire, or a passionate desire for something. The synonym list is downright erotic: sexual desire, sexual appetite, sexual longing, ardor, desire, passion, libido, sex drive, sexuality, biological urge, lechery, lasciviousness, concupiscence, horniness, the hots, randiness, greed, desire, craving, covetousness, eagerness, avidity, cupidity, longing, yearning, hunger, thirst, appetite, hankering desire, be consumed with desire for, find sexually attractive, crave, covet, ache for, burn for, have the hots for, fancy, have a thing about or for, and drool over. (Whew) The key word in all of that is desire. This is not an act, it is merely a basic human want, or as George Carlin put it, “You gotta wanna.”

lust-5“It’s what’s in your mind that counts. Your intentions. Wanna is a sin all by itself….it was a sin for you to wanna feel up Ellen, it was a sin for you to plan to feel up Ellen, it was a sin for you to figure out a place to feel up Ellen, it was a sin for you to take Ellen to the place for you to feel her up, it was a sin to try to feel her up, and it was a sin to feel her up. There was six sins in one!” George Carlin, Class Clown, 1972.

When I get to be Pope, this lust deal comes off the list. The desire we call lust may cause us innumerable problems, but by itself, it’s no sin. It is not even bad. Our behavior may be bad. The desire may burden us in some way. We may not even admit to its existence. We lust, and we do it well. Were it not for bit of lust taken to the physical level about nine months before our original birthday, none of us would be here.

lust-9I wanna. Before you tar and feather me for being a dirty old man (normal), know that I was raised Irish-Catholic, just like Carlin was. Human sexual desire for other humans is normal, good, healthy, and leads to some of the best moments in our lives, not to mention procreation of the species. A vigorous libido is a good thing to have. But, not everyone agrees with me. Most obviously, many Roman Catholics, and certainly not their leadership. I quote from a piece by Sam Guzman, republished in The Catholic Gentleman.

“In my own observation, lust seems the most obvious of the seven deadly sins, and also the one that can overcome the unwary Christian soul like a flash flood.”

I like the flash (flesh?) flood part. But lust isn’t bad – it’s not immoral. It’s normal. Sexual repression, on the other hand, is abnormal. Yet it is supposed be the hallmark of a good Christian life. Accepting the reality that lust is a feeling just like any other, and learning how to deal with it seems much healthier than trying to deny its existence, repressing it, and making millions of young people think they are going to burn for eternity because racing hormones are doing the talking. Think about it. We’ve all been there.

lust-2

One source I found said the opposite of lust is chastity. I disagree. You can do both: be chaste, but still lust. I looked up antonyms of lust, but the list is unsatisfactory. Only apathy (sloth?), and satisfaction (Rolling Stones song) got my attention. I don’t think there is a precise opposite for lust, unless it is not-lust, and that’s dumb. Maybe sloth is a good opposite, but how do we say having no desire, or not thinking? Dead? I wish not to be dead. Lust is a good sign that I’m not. Is un-wanna a real word?

lust-8

When I was challenged to do this series, the proposal was to juxtapose the sin with its opposite. In this case, I can’t point to anything, and it would be pointless anyway. Sorry, I just can’t get no satisfaction.

When we fight against nature, two outcomes are possible. Either nature wins, or our human nature becomes corrupt and disordered.

lust-1

Everything leads to something.
How we follow that path, and where it leads, is how we live.
Passion is good, desire is good, wanna is good! Lust to your heart’s content.
We get one life – live it well and enjoy the parts you can.
Mind any gaps and look both ways.

Time Perceived

TThe other night, as we sat discussing writing projects and their duration, the subject of time came up. There were three of us, representing roughly three generations. The more we talked about time and how each of us currently sees it in terms of the future, the more I realized how differently each one of us viewed it. Time does not change. We do, and thus our view of time changes with age.

Time2I claim to be a right here, right now kinda guy. I live in the present moment. As I contemplate writing a memoir, this seems to cause me an ‘angst’ problem in that I wanna, and I don’t wanna. (I also struggle with writing about myself, but that’s not the issue.) I like History. It could’ve been considered my second minor at A&M. My manuscript is historical-fiction with too much history and not enough fiction. This morning I was asked if I would write a time-travel book (I’m noticing that Vickie has a knack for asking me thought-provoking questions). I didn’t have a ready answer, but after a lot of discussion and thought, my answer is ‘nope.’

Time1After doing a bit of reading, I’m no longer positive that I know what ‘this moment’ in time is, or if it exists. My metaphysical (woo-woo) friends get excited about this fascinating subject. When they do, I look at my watch and note, “It is one-forty, PM.” But they’re right. It’s really an interesting topic. Physicists and philosophers are all over it. Check out all the wiki and academic research (here and here), it goes on-and-on. But, I want to address time in terms of normal people; ya-know, like a truck-driver, retired cop, and Sociology grad-student walked into a bar to discuss it.

The grad student is a young female (they live longer) and has tons of time and a bright future. She is planning her entire future. The truck driver is a middle-age, overweight, heavy smoker and drinker. He doesn’t think about it much, but needs to change his life style in order to have more time. The retired cop has been there and done that. He feels like he’s been lucky and may be on “borrowed time.” Each can see past and future time differently, but they are now in the same place doing the same thing. The biggest difference is age.

It’s not so much that all of us can’t plan to write our novel with five sequels. It’s how we see the time that it will take to do that, not to mention the patience and persistence that will be required.

Two of my favorite songs about time are below. The first is Jim Croce’s Time in a Bottle. The video is with his wife, Ingrid, and their son, A.J. This song was recorded just before Jim’s untimely death and later released posthumously.

The second is a rendition of the Byrds’ Turn, Turn, Turn, which has a biblical, Ecclesiastes basis.

Finally, the last video is a George Carlin skit on time. It is about 11 minutes long, so if you’re not a Carlin fan, skip it. If you are, enjoy.

Oh my! Look at the time.