When It’s a Mere Story (fake, fake, true)

It is a story, a fib, a lie (if you like). I prefer reading and writing nonfiction (reality), but like any writer, I sometimes make things up and present them as literature. They also surface as fiction or reflections of imagination in my poems.

In my writer’s tool box are words, ideas, experience, knowledge, limited imagination, and scant creativity (I know where to get it), technology (a long list of software and hardware goes here), language, and some ability to read and write. Admitting my shortcomings as a journeyman of letters, I consider every editor I know to be a (god or goddess) helpful resource along with a multitude of other writers, authors, and critics.

I like to work with parable, symbolism, simile, metaphor, allegory and allusion, analogy, and soliloquy in poems and essays. I am talking about verisimilitude (all 14 letters and six syllables), or the appearance of reality or truth. I found that word on a list as I researched this piece.

When it’s not biographical and is just a story, it gets tricky. It’s not the writing. It’s what (WTF) am I talking about? Fiction resides in reality and truth. Fact can likewise be disguised in fiction. Names, dates, situations, and persons are often fictionalized in truth.

I know twins (grandparents) who, as children, were both present at a memorable and emotional family event. They both remember it well. However, when they discuss it, each has a different version of the same event, even though they stood side-by-side as eyewitnesses. Each is telling the truth, but how each one saw it and remembers it is different.

One of my favorite authors is Pat Conroy. Pat wrote autobiographical fiction. His stories were based on his real life: his family, people he knew and loved, his schools, his job as a teacher, and other real events. Indeed, his fiction was based (often heavily) on real life.

Conroy paid a high price in several ways. A lot of people got mad at him. Some fellow writers looked down on his creativity (or lack of) in using real world events and people to write fiction. I like the ties to the real. But that does not mean there was always such an entwinement. Other autobiographical fiction writers include Tim O’Brien, Sylvia Plath, Sandra Cisneros, and many others.

Sometimes I make up a story from a thought or memory, but the reality is only a setting or a trigger. It is not necessarily autobiographical or about current real-life circumstances. It is not a message to someone, not a plot applicable to my personal life, not real at all. Many people assume it is. However, sometimes (often?) it is all of that.

I like the ‘how-to’ memoir book by Tristine Rainer, “Your Life as Story: Discovering the ‘New Autobiography’ and Writing Memoir as Literature.” While one should never intentionally lie (fib?), it may be necessary to fill gaps in events with things that may not be exactly precise, true, and factual.

I have been told that every writer (artist or person) puts part of him- or herself into everything he or she writes. I agree. Still, not everything I write is real, or happened, or is about any real person. It may be about how I feel or what I experience emotionally.

Indeed, it was or is true or partly true, or the true facts as I recall them. Often, for me, my writing is a search for myself – for my truth, my honesty, my story, my interpretation of actual events. Maybe it’s just psycho-babble, but writing seems to be part of me trying to say something about me. I’ve written a memoir. It is unfinished, but I will get back to it.

I wrote a poem about a door. A suggested title was ‘An Ode to Agoraphobia.’ While the poem was not intended to be about any mental condition, after I wrote it, I realized it was clearly about fear of going out into the world. I’ve never had such a fear. When I researched possible submissions, I discovered that some publications only wanted it if I suffered from the malady. I ain’t sayin’ I do when I don’t.

The mag’s policy made sense technically, but it was a true poem about a real emotional or mental state that I can only imagine. I’ve written stories about men committing suicide and people doing all sorts of things I never have or will do. Human behavior, bizarre or normal, is interesting. Fiction and nonfiction rely on interest.

The catch is that when people assume what I write is directly associated with my life, they’re usually correct. People who know me personally would certainly assume autobiographical or nonfictional writing, especially other writers. They know how I work. However, sometimes it is just my overactive Irish blarney oozing onto the page with a bit of imagination peppered with fib to improve the taste.

And that, my dear friends, is the absolute truth.

Look both ways in fact and fiction.
Let reality peek into the gaps of light in everything.

Po’ Poetry – Blatant Babble

This is the first of two unpolished, stream of consciousness poems without form or structure. It’s a mental rant I experienced. I can’t explain it, other than to say I was in the kitchen when the thoughts hit me like three pissed off Muses. I went to my computer and wrote them. I think it is a poor man’s poem, thus the Po’.

***

Good enough is not more shit of a leader’s pass, or the lesser of a prompt leading to a dump. Enough. Is it done? Submittable? Ready to rock primetime or roll in a sty? A thought, a dot, to words and to arms, concludes with brains on pages to be sniffed up into minds with more thoughts and dots. Or, not to be. More snot than thought. Did sniff think shit don’t stink? Good enough is a lie that will have to do because this the tragic end-point that leads to death by less than. What then? Bless the sweet little pickled brain of poisonous brine leaking worthy words of wisdom. Applause. I came, I saw, I failed; I came again, I dumped, they cried. It stinks. It’s good enough. Let it go. Unforgiven consciousness of the unconscionable!

 ©Bill Reynolds 12/13/2018

***

Look both ways with random thoughts.
Be mindful of blatant babbling gaps.
Good enough?

Poetry: They die, dang-it

 

Dad was 74, and then some more.
Mom barely passed 77, but she did.
And then they died, as happens to humans,
even parents go away one sad day.

It’s natural. Bad enough — life and death.

They were just short of some expected norm,
Dad a hard-core Camel smoker with a long past
as an underground hard-coal miner, and a heavy
weekend drinker till he quit. Cuz, “too old.”

Now names of leaves and ancestor memories.

Mom got late to fixes for breast cancer,
yet survived about ten mo’ years and may have
won even more, but in life —  it’s always
somethin’ what makes one go away.

Each day of life is precious with mothers.

“Smoking is my one and only pleasure”
said my sister, ‘Show,’ to me, trying to quit
but failing. And, before yielding to lung cancer,
“You know, Billy, I never quit. Now I can’t.”

I hate being right. Precious is life with others.

Other sister was bro Danny’s sis, half to me,
was still poking in her time card at 80-some.
I loved her dearly but struggled when asked,
“What’s it like, to be treated like 3 year old?”

Over fifty years of love for her baby, half-brother.

Now, I just act my age. If I’m lucky, I’ll be 74,
after I blow out 73 candles in the next year,
more, with good kismet down the road, but got them
genes. I love my life today, an’ when I’m dead,

I’ll love that too, all things now bein’ said.

©Bill Reynolds 12/10/2018

“Existence itself does not feel horrible;
it feels like an ecstasy, rather,
which we have only to be still to experience.”
~ John Updike

***

Look both ways along the life-line and cherish every second,
with every person.
‘When yer dead, you’re dead.” (Mom said)
Mind each gap, cuz they count, too.

Poetry: Love Down a Great Stairway

She walked into the majestic hall glowing with womanly confidence,
her body flowing gracefully, moving like a soft breeze across the floor,
all eyes looked as her light summer gown flowed on and off her soft satin skin
as it shed her refreshing scent, filling the air with the aroma of orchids.

He looked up to her as she briefly paused at the top of the grand stairway
as all sounds in the hall ended for him and he felt his heart fill his chest
with brightness and the promise of soon feeling her divinely elegant touch,
as he studied her footsteps gliding down toward him, his desire piqued.

Eyes on her, he rose up without consciousness of his actions, as he left Earth
and entered into a world of enchanted love and impassioned romance,
soon their eyes met and all visions of reality left their unconscious minds,
instantly they were face to face, then hand in hand, and finally heart to heart.

“May I have the honor of this dance, most lovely and pleasant flower?”
“Of course, mon amour chérie. You are the universal eternity I seek.”
The orchestra stopped playing, but everyone heard the heavenly music
of lovers in love as they moved effortlessly, gracefully to the dance floor.

©Bill Reynolds 12/06/2018

Look both ways, but dance arm in arm into the gaps of eternity.

Paradoxical Love Poem

Disclosure: all is well with me. My life is fine. This is not about me, at least not now. I did not write the poem. Its attraction for me is that it abuts the paradoxical nature of love, as I see it. This post is not about anyone I know but relates to the yin and yang of human romance. I don’t know if the poem is intended to be about anyone. Although, it’s inevitable that some of us will see our own shadow somewhere in the poem. And this: I have experienced shingles even after having been inoculated against the infection, and I plan to take the new shots soon. A poem that compares love to that has my attention.

I’ve been working on two other somewhat unrelated essays on the paradox of love for a long time. For months, it has been slow going for several reasons. It’s not the writing. Getting a handle on some aspects of human nature has been a high bar for me. I may be a little reluctant to publish — not totally sure why. Furthermore, I am multi-interested, but when I try to multi-task, as we call it, I FUBAR, as we also call it.

Romance novels are big sellers, and maybe I’ll write one some day. For now, I want to write about the reality of why we are as we seem to be. Romance novels are works of fiction, but there is some reality-based reason we read them.

Why do we love when we know we shouldn’t? How can we love people who do not love back? Why does our greatest pleasure, love, hurt? Why continue loving when it hurts?

And what does sex have to do with it? Obviously, with some love it’s ruled out. In other cases, it is expected.

Then I saw this poem in The Sun magazine. Part of the paradox of love for me is the pain. The pleasure of romantic love defies description (doesn’t keep me from trying). But is it enough to endure the “love hurts” painful kind of situation? Do we love people and wish we didn’t? Conversely, are there people we don’t love, but wish we did?

I would say no, but I would be wrong. Love overpowers all forms of wisdom, logic, caution, safety, and potential for pain. We’d lie for love, we’d die for love. So many of us go into relationships having experienced the pain and suffering, and knowing what another relationship might bring. Some of us are in those painful relationships. That is what is so great about it.

When I read this poem, I thought she had nailed it. That poem reflects exactly what I am talking about when I try to put the paradox of love into an understandable and logical framework of words.

Due to copyright law, I cannot publish the poem here, but the magazine allows me to post a link to their web page.

Please click this link to the poem Loving You Burns Like the Shingles by Terri Kirby Erickson and read it for yourself at The Sun’s magazine website.

Note: The Sun allows you to view two articles per month without subscription. So, if you have already viewed two on their site, you may not be able to read the poem.

I’ve added a little youtube of the song, Love Hurts, by Nazareth. Sorry for the downer. We love to love, and love is not a downer.

 

Look both ways, to the past and toward the future.
But focus on the here and now. Mind gaps in everything.

Poetry: What Love is this Love?

 

And then she kissed him.

 

Have humans always loved?
Have we always loved as we now do?

Will there always be a forever love? And
is it true – as they say, love conquers all?

What is this love, which we feel but not see?
Or do we see love? How long do we love?

What is the paradox of such love?
Is it that we have only one word
for so many different loves and types of?

©Bill Reynolds

“…I would like to beg you … to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves … to live everything. Live the questions now … then, someday … you will gradually … live your way into the answer.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903, Letters to a Young Poet.

 

For all things and every day, but most especially in love, look both ways.
The gaps will always be there — in your mind.
Live into your answers.


I wish for you and yours a wonderful holiday season.

Poetry: The Whole(y) Trinity (Earth+Rain+Sun) +Air

Our Earth is breathtaking, awe-inspiring, magnificent, wonderful, amazing, stunning, staggering, imposing, stirring, and impressive. It’s also formidable, fearsome, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, marvelous, and wondrous.

I

It is pure coincidence when the sun and I rise together.
Some mornings, I get to see him peeking through smoky cloud,
other times he is in full blast before I notice the lightness
of another day, I might say, he’s looking kind of gray.
We need the sun. Without sun, we are none, no life begun.
But too much sun is less than fun for those of us
who’d a fair-skin mum, with sun’s-red or blonde hair.
Here come the sun, with promises of things not done.

II

‘tis all the same with the rain, hello, this is nature’s sweetest gift.
The water of life, with two hydros and one oh, of it we drink
vapes up to the sky, but not to the sun, to meet
with clouds of wonder before coming to cleanse
and to make things grow, sometimes as ice, or maybe as snow.
To make us a soup the plants may drink and we of the flesh,
must readily use to be mostly moving bags of water —
no rain, no water; no water – no life, but we have for us
the rain and rain and water and life that needs rain.

III

The earth, the dirt and the dullest dust of all things come and gone —
the coat of soil, six inches deep, worn by the planet is key to it all.
Type of soil names go with what it does and may sound human,
like Clay, Loam, Sandy, Peat, Rocky, and Chalky all improved
with organic things of life gone past, soil is often used for art,
but add the seed then wait to see the growth of life and us to be
mixed and matched and combined with time, then add and mix
the sun and rain and plant life comes, and air is there, and life
of animals and we are they. Care for it all if you plan to stay.

IV

Deep sigh for air and sky. Ya know, lads and lasses, it seems
brother air was not always there, but he’s a changeling contrivance
subject to manipulation with a chemical touch and that is, you see,
what all the fuss truly is and what it’s all about. The magic of
the other three working together (with the sea) brought to be
what we now suck into our lungs and over our tongues the air
the plants brought forth by a wonderful trinity of symbiotic
relationships giving life (recently to us) — for a time. How long?

©Bill Reynolds 11/19/2018

Look both ways in matters of life and nature. They’ve been here longer than us.
Mind the gaps with open-minded caution, discovery may one day fill them with knowledge.
All life, all earth is one. Let’s not fuck this up.