Thursday, February 17, 2011

it's like i passed the baton along to my wife: i was sick with the flu for a few days, and just as i resurface, down she goes. just in time to arrive in the office to find piles of papers and grading, stuff waiting for me; the same at home, responsibility for kids out of school or getting them to what school there is. no rest for the weary; it was a nasty flu, with shaking, shivering, slight fever, feeling like a truck ran me over, for a few days. but it was nice to stay home, and enjoy a peaceful house as spring kind of gently pushed winter out of the way.

we pull out onto the country road with the four soldiers off there to the right, and the bleak treeless spring makes the shell of the building all the more apparent, now that we know it's there; it stands looking out over the empty fields, guarding them, as the geese shift around above, deciding which lakes to settle in or whether to head up north again. i don't worry about it much anymore, but i always cast a glance; it still amazes me that i'd never seen it, didn't even know it was there for over sixteen years. now, the four soldiers are a kind of sign, they and the dirt road heading over the slight rise, the iron fence blocking the way. i'm capable of letting sleeping ghosts lie. or whatever...maybe a better way of saying it is, i'm too busy to disturb them. it occurred to me, one day when i was sick, and i was at my own stoop, and i actually had the time, but i was so sick, so weary...what kind of time is that? i went back to bed.

i work on my novel a little; maybe i promised i'd show you, but haven't shown you yet. it wasn't a secret. it's just that i usually don't make it past six or seven chapters, and this one is also threatening to go under for lack of plan or clear direction. i have to admit, i hadn't worked out the entire plot, before starting; maybe i should have, but i was more inspired to start, than to work out the plan. so far, it hasn't been an issue; it's been coming along ok. but it won't keep coming along, if i don't figure out where it's going.

then, the light of the last few days, an old friend of mine, dave morice, who i've mentioned in this blog i believe, befriended me on facebook, which he barely uses not to mention exploits. he, the great actualist, dr. alphabet himself, known for writing poetry across bridges, down from the top of iowa city's one six-story building, and now, having written a 10,000-page poem, at the same time, maybe, figured out who i was, an old acquaintance from the seventies, and friended me; i'm honored. this poem must have taken him all these years to write; i can't imagine; i know that it's entirely downloadable and free, which is another amazing feat; and that he, like me, still maintains that the center of the universe is actually iowa city, rather than, say, carbondale, or maybe chicago. it's the center not only because its name itself is an oxymoron (though kansas city and oklahoma city would still be in the race) - but also because it's attracted this steady stream of writers and anti-writers, wordsmiths all, who set up shop and keep it cranking, and, it's on the iowa river, a most intensely beautiful rolling river-valley countryside, the most beautiful natural environment i've ever seen, though slightly despoiled by excessive fertilizer, pesticide and cowpens. dave, i'm happy to say, never let himself be pushed out of the place, as i did, inadvertently; he's still there, and he even has someone who digs up old actualist pictures and uploads them on his site; i know, then, that actualism is alive, whether or not there is now 10,000 pages more of it.

he wrote a poem, many years back, that i found and threw into an online ring, a place which was soliciting best poems to put out in esl/efl classes. i'll find it. it was short, elegant, to the point; it looked out over a bleak horizon, and said, words can do it. they can make you feel, sometimes, what others feel. that's all you can ask.

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