Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sleepless Night

Photo credit: www.greenewave.com

Well, this doesn't happen often. It's 3:30 AM and I'm sitting here wide awake with my head and throat on fire. Sleep completely alludes me.

It's these damn allergies, I suppose. I mowed the lawn today and the pollen count must have been at record highs. This kind of thing usually does not bother me. But I guess that this is just one of the many 'perks' of getting older. Every year, I discover new allergies and ailments I never knew I had.

It seems writers suffer from insomnia more than other folks, and that remains a mystery to me. I can only imagine it has something to do with having a story in your head that simply must be written. I think this way too, and more often now.

Well, with nothing else to do but sit and look at my computer screen, I wrote a quick poem to express my thoughts of this sleepless nights. here it is:

Sleepless Night

Oh, those torrents of the dark
Those devilish, nocturnal things

Tonight, I joined them
Cast away the invitation to sleep
I cannot find rest
And my dreams have left in fear
Of the wilds in the night

I watch with untrusting eyes
As a cast of spirits taunt me
And hold my friend captive, just out of reach

Spirits so dark and deceitful
Even their shadows are not welcome
They are only darkness among shadows
And they hold slumber ransom

What ransom for sleep
Name it and I’ll pay
Although sleep will not be freed

I’ll pay my dues all the next day 

Yep, I'm sitting here hoping that I might at least get sleepy. While most men in my position would eventually resort to surfing porn, I'll probably succumb to the lure of searching for the next typewriter in my collection. 

Somehow I believe porn would be cheaper.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Remette, The Family Typewriter

Ohh, I'm so excited. My newly purchased typewriter just arrived. I'm proud to announce the newest marvelous machine to my collection--The Remington Remette.


Here it is. The diminutive and sporty Remette.


Just like those tiny little sports cars of yesteryear, this machine is stripped to the bones. If you want a platen knob on the left side, or even a warning bell for when your typing reaches the end of the pages, you'll have to purchase the 'deluxe' model.


As you can see in the picture above, the little typewriter worked great. This little bit was typed before cleaning. The only thing I'd done at this point was replace the ribbon.

Here's a typecast sample of the machine's handiwork:




This was the only advertisement I could find for the little Remette typewriter. Funny how typewriter companies put so much into advertising around Christmas. Most folks buying a typewriter during the depression would purchase them on some kind of payment plan, often paying a small amount weekly or bi-weekly. It might be hard to imagine now, but in those days, it was difficult to justify spending $29.75 on a typewriter. It would be the equivalent to spending $2,000 dollars on a computer today. Surely not unheard of, but not pocket change either.














On the left is a short poem I whipped up on my new machine. It's worth noting how a typewriter can inspire and motivate. For people of my age, the typewriter represents something from their youth, before the age of computers and smart phones.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rhymes and Crimes

Literary crimes committed and forgiven in the poetical world.

I’m a fan of poetry, often finding myself lost in the meter and cryptic meaning of words on paper. I sometimes feel as if the artist poured these words directly from their heart onto the page and, in my reading, I drink these words into my soul, warming my body to its very core.

See what I did there? I just invoked emotion in my words. One might also notice how I then had to analyze the words I’d just impressed into the nether.

That’s me, I can’t help it. I so enjoy poetry but sometimes have difficulty processing the feeling when the words and phrases do not match my critical sense. All writers are guilty of this—myself included. But poets often receive special reprieve from their crimes. Readers—myself included—often do not see the crime committed because of the power of the words made into poem.

Let me provide some examples:

First, is a poem by Emily Dickinson called “Her Breast is Fit for Pearls.”

Her breast is fit for pearls,
But I was not a ‘Diver’-
Her brow is fit for thrones,
But I have not a crest.
Her heart is fit for home-
I—a Sparrow—build there
Sweet of twigs and twine
My perennial nest.




Did you catch that? I didn’t think so. Sadly, Emily had passed by the time this poem was anthologized into print. I’m sure the editor just could not see fit to make changes posthumously for the sake of correctness.

Look again. On the second line, the verse slips into past-tense when the rest is in present tense. Yes, I know this is small potatoes but it demonstrates how grammatical crimes are committed and forgiven through poetry.

Now please, don’t be hatin’. I mean no disrespect by my critical analysis. Furthermore, I humbly apologize to Rocio, my daughter in-law for tearing at the reputation of her beloved poet. In a physical display of remorse, I’m having a copy of the book, “The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s envelope poems” sent to you, Rocio.

To be fair, I will also provide analysis of one of my favorite poets, Edgar Allan Poe.

For this, I chose the first section of the poem “Romance” by E.A. Poe.

Romance, who loves to nod and sing
With drowsy head and folded wing
Among the green leaves as they shake
Far down within some shadowy lake,
To me a painted paroquet
Hath been—most familiar bird-
Taught me my alphabet to say,
To lisp my very earliest word
While in the wild wood I did lie,
A child—with a most knowing eye.
 

Holy smokes, I can’t believe you didn’t see that one! Just kidding, the flaw in this poem was more difficult to find. In fact, I believe one would have to be quite anal to see it—oh, wait, I found it, sooo...

Anyway, in this poem, the discrepancy is found on the fifth line where Edgar mentioned the Paroquet. A Paroquet is a type of parrot that lives mostly in Alaska, and would not likely be seen hanging around Boston or Baltimore. In this case, Paroquet was used because “Parrot” simply would not rhyme with the word “say” on the following line.

The thing that strikes a chord with me on this poem is the use of the word, “paroquet.” I had to look it up. Of course, that’s just how Edgar Allan Poe wrote. I’m often challenged intellectually when reading his work. Odd, since many believe that he spent the majority of his days in an alcohol and opiate-induced stupor. I do not subscribe to this myth.

Now, to be fair, I will also analyze one of my own poems. I obviously lack the skill and conviction of the aforementioned poets. Remember, I write mostly fiction. I would implore all writers to engage in the writing of poetry as skill in this craft will surely bleed into other forms of writing. I often use alliteration, rhyming words and other devises knowingly in my stories.

Why no. I’m not being deceitful in my use of words, in my conjuring of magic, in my moving of the literary black arts, I’m simply using the tools available to me. Many writers (and many readers) know that words used in the right place and in the right order, provide the reader with something beyond the story. The proper use of words and phrases bring a color, a tactile feel, a scent even, to the reader’s experience.

I digress, here’s one of my own poems, laid on the floor, bleeding in front of you. This is titled “Beautiful Soul”

She is a beautiful soul
and that is not all I see
Her heart so kind and tender
reaches out to me
With her my life is made complete
her friendship I have found
in my heart, she's taken seat
and struck me so profound

So when I find her faced with pain
unsure of life's intent
I'll help her walk the brightest lane
and follow where she went
my heart hurts along with hers
her pain I strive to mend
for she has given me so much
she has been my friend.

While I certainly am not the best judge or critic for my own work, I can say that, overall, this poem could be tightened up and set on a more direct course.  Also, given my nature, I’m surprised in reading this now that the words used are not more “flowery.” Those who know me best will surely agree.

What say you? What criticism might you find with this work? Do you think that your own writing might benefit through the practice of poetry? And lastly, how is it that we forgive such literary crimes committed by poets? What are they, special?