Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Writer's heaven or hell

There’s a joke where a writer dies and meets St. Peter on the other side. Peter gives her the option of spending eternity in heaven or hell. She asks for a tour of both first. He shows her Hell, where writers are toiling over keyboards in a pit of fire while demons whip them into working until they faint. Then he shows her Heaven, where writers are toiling over keyboards in a pit of fire while demons whip them into working until they faint. When she says she doesn’t quite see the difference, St. Peter says, “Oh, that’s easy. In Heaven, your work gets published.”

I have been in no longer care about many things mode lately. Among them, whether I live in Writers’ Heaven or Writers’ Hell. I will write badly at times -- probably often. It doesn’t matter. The late Ken Rand always put it succinctly: “Anyone can say you can’t write. Let no one say you don’t.”

The blog name bears some explanation, and requires the infliction of poetry. I am a transplant to the West and sometimes think of it as finding home, while other times I wonder what I am doing here. I love the open vistas, but I miss trees. I like the low population, but miss people and activity. As with any human, I can be a study in contradictions.

I wrote and published this over a decade ago, although it's been edited slightly Like many writers, I am horrified when confronted with earlier work, no matter how proud of it I was at the time. I interviewed W. Michael Gear once when he told me how relieved he was when packrats urinated on the only copy of his first novel attempt and his wife finally let him toss it. He had lived in fear that he would die and that someone would publish it posthumously. I’m saving myself that fear and putting it out here now:

Bluegrass and bindweed

Kentucky bluegrass, scraggling desperate to the slope
down and down to the walk, where it pokes through,
drying brown in cracks, crying for water
each week, each day in hot Wyoming wind.

This grass and I are kin, my clan
comes from gentle hills, horse country
where bluegrass drinks deep in humid Kentucky summer.

Each spring, I dig bindweed from my garden plots
Trace tendril roots from the soil, from plant to root,
from root to mama root, to big, fat grandmama root,
fat stores of sunlight for infant weeds.

Bindweed feeds its young ones well
Grandmama roots hide dug deep
in foundation cracks
Each summer it returns
When I leave, it will take its land again

Some things I plant survive here.
I’ve learned plants born to barrenness,
Ones that have known bindweed as neighbor
These bounce back from hail, bend in wind,
live hurried lives between frosts,
unthirsty in poor soil.

My roots are not as deep as bindweed,
more deep I hope than bluegrass.
I spread arms and feel wind pushing,
threatening to blow me east
where bluegrass thrives.

Will these roots hold in harsh Wyoming soil?
Or will wind pull me as I pull weeds,
toss me across the Plains
drop me in my birthland
Too torn to reroot?

1 comment:

  1. Better not go back to the bluegrass!!

    Enjoyed the imagery, learned more about bindweed. Loved the joke! It's hell if you write and hell if you don't, so you might as well write, eh?

    ReplyDelete

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