20 October 2011

Questions are the most important things to have.

I've been trying to figure out what my father would have wanted for me. I mean of course he wanted me to be happy, but what version of happiness, how did he want me to make myself happy?

Truth is, my father's inheritence will allow me one of these paths, but not all of them. And so I'm struggling not to sing with angels anymore, like in the poem that I posted in September by David Meltzer. Instead, I am struggling to hear the thoughts of a ghost, a ghost I knew so well, but not enough.


1. My father wanted to be a forest ranger; he ended up an oral surgeon.

I wanted to be a poet; I ended up a teacher.

I could take my inheritence and pay for a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition. And a PhD would allow me to teach full time at any university across the country, allow me to do the thing that makes me happiest: teaching English composition.


2. My father was a great father. Not well understood by most, and often times, isolated from his family because he didn't want to be judged, criticized, or questioned. He hated confrontations and avoided them at all costs.

But he and my mother, despite all the codependency, somehow managed to parent me and my sister pretty well and I think I would make a great father too.

April and I deperately want a baby, but we don't seem to be fertile. This inheritence could pay all the fees and help us prepare our home (or trade up in a home) to adopt a baby. And what a gift we could give a baby who would have no parents, the pair of us who would love a baby so hard.


3. My father was a big game hunter and after he'd hunted the big game in the lower 48, he hunted the big game in Alaska, and after that, he went on to conquer African big game and Australian big game. I am sure, had he been healthier, he would have hunted other places.

We haven't been on a vacation yet. April and I have struggled to just pay bills from month to month. That's what you sign on for when both workers in a household work in non-profit.

I want to take April to Utah to show her where I grew up. Just like I want to see where she grew up (don't tell her though-I give her a hard time about being from the South). I want to take her to New York, Disneyworld, Hawaii-or someone tropical, Japan to see our godddaughter graduate, and Europe.

This inheritence would allow us to travel. All we need is the time off. I can get it pretty easily, but she's a bit trickier.


When my father died, a friend of mine provided some comfort to me be reminding me how much my dad loved and respected me by letting me be different than him. He learned early on that I would never be a doctor or a hunter and I think he suspected that I would wait to become a parent. And I always felt guilty for that, like I had let him down. And for a time, I thought his isolation was him punishing me for that. When I realized that he was letting me become a poet, and a lover, and a working class bleeding heart, I regretted the conversations I missed out on. And by then, he'd married, he'd collected some stepchildren and a huge group of friends, who just didn't let him be who he was, but took from him whatever he was willing to give.

His generosity was unlimited.

And I can pay him back for all of it by becoming the man I want to be. But is that a world traveler, a father, or a teacher?

14 October 2011

Poem of the Week: 14 October 2011

Each week I post a discovered poem for you to read, share, and comment on.

This one is from a poet named Paul Zimmer and I am not very familiar with him, but I like this poem and several others that I've been reading of his. His newest collection is called The Importance of Being Zimmer.

What Zimmer Will Do

The earliest color photographs were called autochromes (1904-
1930), formed on glass plates using a layer of minute grains of
starch dyed red, green, and blue and coated with a panchromatic
emulsion. When viewed closely, the finished images are like
miniature Pointillist paintings.
I am looking at an image of two young French women sitting
           in a garden around 1906,
and I become the great bird of love again;
crazy with spring, I swoop down
into the middle of the belle époque,
skitter and flop on a gravel path at the feet
of these two unsmiling French girls who sit
with their hair pulled back over eyes of shade.
I will make them blush and laugh
in their pink, summer frocks as I fly up
and dart between their wicker chairs
over beds of primroses, fan plants
and columbines, to an open window
where picnic hampers have been placed.
Then the three of us will ramble
Into sunlight and droning grasses.
I will circle their lovely, oval heads,
Gently plucking at their barrettes until
They laugh, "Zimmer, l'oiseau absurde!"
You crazy bird! And toss me
Bits of bread and boiled egg.

--Paul Zimmer

10 October 2011

Poem of the Week: 10 October 2011

Each week I share a discovered poem for you to read, enjoy, share and comment on.

This one was written by a friend who I went to school with. This poem always haunted me, especially the part where Joseph Stalin says, "Why sad?" To hear it read in David's voice, there is a deeper peace in that phrase, as if a person could live in that phrase. As if I have lived in that phrase.

Difficult Snow

by David Cheezem

I am walking in difficult snow,
my boots gnawing the white

ground, and everything I know
is here. The alders, shivering,

are here, and the memory of devil's
club stinging last summer

is here. I am alone,
but Joseph Stalin is talking to me.

He is saying, "Why sad?"
and I tell him: I am

trying to write a good poem
about terrible things,

and I can't seem to find
a place in the language.

And Joseph Stalin laughs,
wraps the wool-clad arm around

my shoulder, and says,
"Ahhh, David, why make things

so difficult. All I have to do is speak,
and twenty thousand people

become my imagination,
and I don't see them any more."

The alders shiver;
the trail disappears.

I am walking in difficult snow
and I am alone,

but everything I know is here.

04 October 2011

How do you eat a whale?

Piece by piece.

I'm currently working on a book about a lot of what I've been writing about, but it also mixes in some fictional elements, parts of the imaginative fantasies I had as a boy that seem as real as anything else that has happened to me.

I began working on it shortly after I got married to April, 5 years ago. Chapter One is complete, Chapter Two is nearly completed. Chapter Three is mapped out. It's only going to have three chapters. Dante was fine with his master work being three pieces. I'm happy with this.

I've never been able to focus on something like this for this long, which is why I have tried to stick with poetry and to be honest, working so long on it, now that I see where it's going to end up, I am having a really rough time accessing the voices I need to roll the rest out lately.

Perhaps because I'm not expecting anymore surprises, and manufacturing surprises for the reader just seems so...fake to me.

I need to go back to it though. I think that's why I took a break from this blog recently. Kinda re-establising my footing, finding a new hold on this piece I'm working on.

After a while, the taste becomes horrific and sometimes you think you can't swallow another bite. So you take a break from the whale. Let the digestion processes learn new things and then come back to the whale.

Hopefully, it won't take me as long as it took Melinda Mae to eat her whale.