My last two posts resulted in no comments, at least so far. I can understand how a cheap DVD player with a toothache can be ignored, but it does puzzle me just a wee bit why no one responded to my nearly dying. Was it my tone? Did the style of my droll recollection undermine anyone taking me seriously? Where are you Pat, or you, Jennifer, or you, Norm? I forgive Laurel because she recently posted.
In my quest for fame and glory, death is the last card to play, and it's too soon for me, as my reputation as a writer must occur sometime in the future, as I am too old to die young and misunderstood. I prefer old and misunderstood anyway, as I have some perspective about how no one is truly understood to the degree they had hoped. Sure, "We are all much more alike than otherwise," but none of us can really imagine the world from inside another's head. Even when Descartes reduced himself to a single thought, you have to wonder what kind of mind would seek that kind of vacuum, and whether he could maintain a limited consciousness without secondary comments floating through his mind from his other presumptive selves.
I sometimes think that perhaps a native, an aboriginal, might live in real time--that his only conversations are with others, that no debate goes on inside his head. He doesn't think: "I'm going to hunt;" he hunts. He doesn't think: "What shall I cook?" He cooks what's available or doesn't because nothing is. And he doesn't ask if his hunger is a sign of some god's disfavor. To have a natural consciousness--is it just a dream of Western Man? Could such peace exist internally? Are our interior discussions a result of civilization? Is the education of civilization therefore psychotic, or psychosis-promoting?
Many times in my poetry I have sought the Zen moment of forgetting myself in nature, when there was no "word" for ocean. Here's an unpublished example, one of a very few poems written during my internship half a lifetime ago:
After the thunderstorm’s crackling resonances
the air blinks once
and in the still, unoccupied space
the birds begin their chant
as if by signal
in the tall juniper.
There is a conspiracy among them
or between them and the sky.
Their bamboo bones
divine the air’s pulse
and news travels quickly
through delicate throats.
Their speech is not our speech
but as if one mouth were speaking;
it is not relief they feel
or joy as we know it
but crescendo, counterpoint,
what the proper sound is after rain.
I have other poems that more strain to enter into the moment than describe it, but they are usually not successful, as language breaks down into some unavoidable abstractions. After all, in my imagination, the Aborigine doesn't think, "Kill lizard"--he kills the lizard.
I don't want to go Tom Sawyer on my audience, but 60 people come here each day to read something, whether my latest blog or something in the archives; that not one would comment on my brush with death puzzles me. There, I said it again. And if I were to die, would I be missed artistically? Would my essays, poems, ramblings, unpublished books, songs, CDs, the whole enchilada--would anyone miss them? Or would only my loved ones be tempted to read or listen because it reminds them of me the way I look at photographs of my late daughter, Rachel. Speaking of which, I broke my rule again. Here's the first poem I've written about her death:
On Rachel’s Death
Foam rolls like lava
down the dark rock islands,
waterfalls of seawater,
seafalls of saltwater
down the dark rock,
past the phalanx of gulls
in gray and white,
the colors of my beard.
An old one limps, his yellow
foot more crooked than
this line. I used to joke
that you gave me
the most white hairs.
The ocean sobs at how you died
like Marilyn with her panties on.
These details are what police write,
like the man with the red flag in his pocket
supervising sand, how your hair
(I know I promised to forsake poetry, and I have for the most part, but sometimes an exception bubbles through.)
I suppose my death would provoke as little comment as my near-death did. It's a big world out there, and the craft of writing earns a smaller and smaller audience. My thanks to whomever reads this, and no, you don't have to comment on my near dying. It's moot now that I'm alive. (Or is time past present in time present?)